One of the most popular breakfast dishes in Japan is natto (fermented beans). Even the Japanese chain restaurant have “Natto teishoku” (natto set meals) as a breakfast menu.
Many visitors from overseas tend to avoid natto due to its sticky texture and pungent smell, but once you know its benefits and try it more than once, you may start to like it.
Natto is basically fermented soybeans. The beans are brought to fermentation by a bacteria called Bacillus subtilis and then aged for about a week. In the process of fermentation, the carbohydrates turn into alcohol or acid. Usually this is done with bacteria or with yeast. In the case of natto, Bacillus subtilis is the bacteria which is used.
How To Eat Natto
You can also eat natto with condiments such as kimchi, raw egg, soy sauce, and thinly sliced green onions, myoga (Japanese ginger), grated daikon (radish), bonito flakes or nori seaweed. It can also be placed on cold tofu, making a dish called “hiyayakko“, or eaten with other sticky foods such as Chinese yam, mekabu (flower part of wakame seaweed) or okra (ladies’ finger).
Taste, Texture and Smell of Natto
Trying natto for the first time can be a big task. It tastes best when eaten with hot rice, a tinge of soy sauce and chopped green onions.
Natto is really a micronutrient powerhouse. In addition to vitamin K, natto contains significant amounts of Vitamins C and B, as well as B6 and B12. Moreover, it also contains minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, and even Iron. Each 100g of natto contains 8.6 mg of iron.
Even if you have experienced soy allergies, natto may not bother you. The fermentation process breaks down the difficult-to-digest proteins, rendering them unrecognizable as a problem food to your immune system!
If smell is the problem, add a spoon of sesame oil, which will gives the dish a wonderful aroma. Also, if you are not so much into slimy things, mix the natto less before adding condiments, by doing so it will be less sticky and gooey.