Eat Your Natto

Natto is one of those things that you learn to love. The first bite, and you immediately think…what is this?!  Two or three servings later, and you’re hooked. It’s a traditional Japanese dish of fermented soy beans. It’s popular not only for its addictive taste and texture, but there are even scientific studies published on the impressive health benefits of natto. So, my typical breakfast while in Japan looks a little something like this…

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The most standard way of enjoying natto is by mixing it with just a drop of mustard and soy sauce and serving it over a bowl of fresh rice. The more you mix the natto, the more gooey and sticky it gets. Some people even say that it enhances the flavour.

If you want to be fancy, it’s also very common to eat it with slices of raw negi (green onion). The photo on the bottom is a picture of natto with negi, and in the photo on top you can see a bunch of different finely chopped veggies together with the natto. This is a mixture of pickled daikon radish, daikon leaves, and carrots that I mixed with vinegar and salt and left for a day or two. It’s the perfect breakfast when I’m craving something savory. Have you ever tried natto? I’d love to know what you thought of it! 😀

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53 thoughts on “Eat Your Natto

    1. Oh my gosh! That’s such a good idea!! I’ve had nagaimo by itself with rice, but I never thought to mix it with natto. Oooo I really want to try that 😀

  1. First time I tried natto it was meant as a joke, I don’t think my japanese friends would ever think that it was something I’d like… The way they presented it too me I seriously thought it was something that would smell and taste horribly – and with that I tried it and liked it. Too me it’s a part of breakfast. Rice, spring onions and a bag of natto. Classy. Never seen it outside Japan though.

    1. Hahaha I know what you mean! I think foreigners often kick up a big fuss about it, and Japanese think that anyone who’s not Japanese is going to instantly recoil at the sight of it…poor natto! Another one of those things is umeboshi. I like natto and umeboshi but people are always surprised to hear it. Actually, I can buy natto very easily at local Asian grocery stores in Vancouver. Too bad you can’t get it where you are!

      1. That’s right! 😛 Umeboshi is usually referred to as a pickled plum, but in reality…it doesn’t taste pickled at all. But the interesting thing is that homemade umeboshi and store-bought umeboshi are totally different! Store-bought ones are very sweet and soft. Homemade ones are salty and a little more firm. Homemade umeboshi are the best!!

      2. I am sure I never had homemade! It never crossed my mind it would be different! If you post a step-by-step how to make it I’d try. But If you use fresh plums it will have to wait until August when ours are ready 😉

      3. I’ve actually never made them myself before! I don’t think many young people make it. I think it’s the sort of thing that someone’s grandmother makes for you haha. At least that’s always been my experience! They use a very special type of ume plum which are small and green, and they’re picked unripe while they’re still hard and sour. And then, they’re dunked in alcohol and left to sit with a lot of salt and shiso (perilla leaves). Umeboshi can last for decades, or even a hundred years, so they were traditionally a very important food especially during famine. I’ll make a post sometime on the difference between homemade and storebought umeboshi! 😛

      4. hehe I always wish I could try it myself but somehow I feel like it’s the sort of thing that should be passed down from an elder instead of looking up a recipe on the internet. I may have to do that though 😛

  2. I guess different variants of this dish is available across different parts of the world! Indians make their own beans and rice with a lot of spices, Mexicans also serve rice and beans as whole meals and as sides with burritos and its quite common in South America. I thinks the taste differs considerably when you move from one continent to another!

    1. Good point! There are so many neat ways of using beans across cultures. (Just between you and me, Indian food is my favorite hehe…Spices make everything better.) Natto is maybe one of the rare dishes in Japan where beans are savory. Most of the time, bean dishes in Japan are sweet desserts. Are there any sweet bean dishes in Indian cuisine?

      1. I am with you when you say spices make everything better! I don’t think Indians can ever imagine sweet bean dishes. Rajma, which is basically kidney beans cooked with spices, is a huge thing in North India. Rajma with rice can even bring the worst enemies together!

      2. I like the sound of that! Good food bringing enemies together haha. Have you ever tried a Japanese sweet like a red bean paste bun or daifuku? I wonder what you would think! Indian sweets are incredible though. One of the best desserts I ever had was cardamom ras malai!

      3. I haven’t tried much of Japenese cuisine coz its not available in India and I haven’t been to Japan yet. I would definitely try their sweets!! And, Ras Malai is my favorite too!

  3. Natto is not just tasty (for Japanese) but it has a huge health benefit! If anybody has a risk of stroke have this every day. It reduces the clot in your blood. Seriously!!

    1. Absolutely! I’ve heard that too! And not only that, but it’s also good for digestion and your intestines. Lucky that it’s so delicious 😀

    1. Hahaha I don’t blame you. There’s no dish like it in western cuisine. It’s very different, and can definitely take some getting used to. Maybe the best way to describe the texture is like kind of like okra. The flavor is of course totally different, but if you’re okay with the gooey stickiness of okra, then natto is no problem. It’s delicious though, I swear! 😛

      1. Ooh. I like pretty much every vegetable, but okra is one texture I can’t take! No fear, I’m not heading to Japan any time soon. Ha!

    1. Yeah! It’s a mecca of natto, and umeboshi as well. I guess that’s why I like them both so much! Where in Japan are you from? Do they have a favorite traditional cuisine there?

      1. I’m from Saitama and there are many things that I want to introduce… But my recommendations are “soka-senbei (草加せんべい)” and “gokabo (五家宝)”. They are yummy! 😀

      2. Oh, Saitama is very close to Ibaraki! I’ve never heard the names 草加せんべい and 五家宝, but I looked them up and the foods look very familiar! Maybe gokabo is like Mito’s yoshihara denchu (吉原殿中)? And soka-sembei looks like good quality shoyu-sembei. Those are the best type of sembei!

      3. Yes, gokabo is very similar to yoshiwara-denchu!! Soka-senbei is typical senbei, but it has a taste from the old days – hard texture and additive-free. 🙂 There are lots of good old shops for both products.

    1. Hahaha I can’t blame you! I know…when I was little I couldn’t stand it. And then one day, I just randomly had a craving for it out of the blue, and I’ve loved it ever since. Just kind of snuck up on me hehe.

    1. I hope you do get to try it! I’d love to know what you think of it. I’ve never gotten to see someone eating natto for the first time, but I want to haha. It’s unlike any other food!

    1. Yeah, in Japan it’s just a typical staple food but for me it’s still a big treat! I hope you try it sometime! You can even get it easily in Vancouver in places like T&T Supermarket 😀

      1. Interesting! I didn’t think of that. Natto and tempeh are both fermented soy beans. The process is totally different, but I wonder if there is any similarity in flavour at all? Now I’m even more curious to try tempeh!

      2. Funny that – I’ve always heard people say that natto has a particularly divisive flavor (and pardon for not reading through every comment to back up that observation) – tempeh has a nutty richness to it, somewhere between tofu and cashew but I wouldn’t say it’s divisive. If you’ve had a Kind bar, you know what consistency to expect. 😉 Do they have Kind bars in Canada?

      3. Haha well I wouldn’t call natto divisive at all! It’s just a matter taste. It’s kind of like other foods like olives, okra, tofu, aged cheese, and that sort of thing — a lot of people love them, but at the same time a lot of people like to say they’re unappetizing. Yup, we do have Kind bars in Canada! If tempeh is anything like that, it must be awesome!

  4. Natto sounds ike an acquired flavor. But I think I would like it because I didn’t like tempeh at first either but now, I am very fond of it, BBQ too & tempeh bacon! 🙂

  5. My niece recently introduced us to Natto, which didn’t sound so appealing being with.. however, now, we love it and we try to spread the word and get other people to enjoy this good and HEALTHY food 🙂

    1. Awesome! I’m so happy that you like natto haha 😛 And you’re right, it is incredibly healthy. Is it easy to find in the UK? It must be a bit pricey!

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