Natto is Japanese healthy food, which is fermented soybeans. If you are curious about how to eat it, I will show you the Japanese way.
I love natto. Our kids also love it, so we eat it almost every day.
Natto is so interesting, it's slimy, gooey, and has a unique texture. And stinks!
It doesn't sound good but it's also known as super healthy food.
- This recipe is for you, if you
- are curious about Japanese natto
- want to learn about natto
- want to know how to eat natto
- want to know natto gohan recipes
What is natto? What does the taste like? I'm going to answer your questions. Let's get started!
About this recipe
- What is natto?
- How to eat it
- Natto over rice is the best
- 8 Natto gohan(rice) recipes
- And more ideas
What is natto?
Natto is fermented soybeans and Japanese traditional food. It is a healthy food eaten all over Japan, and popular menu for breakfast.
If you stay in a ryokan(Japanese style hotel), you would most likely see it in the breakfast.
What does it taste like?
Natto is so unique.
It's slimy, stringy, and stink but it's not rotten, it's fermented.
I grew up eating natto so the smell doesn't bother me at all, but if you try for the first time, it might be disgusting(you will see).
If you eat just natto, you might feel it sweet slightly which is the taste of soybeans, and also umami(savory) by fermentation.
Natto usually comes with a natto sauce (a mixture of dashi, soy sauce, and sugar) and karashi(Japanese mustard), these condiments add more flavor to natto.
But anyway, it is hard to describe what the taste like, so you have to try and experience it on your own.
You might really like it, or really hate it lol.
How is it made?
Natto is made from soybeans and natto-kin.
Natto-kin is a type of bacteria and the natto's stringy texture is made by the natto-kin breaking down soybean proteins.
By the way, natto used to be made by wrapping in rice straw since natto-kin lives in it.
Natto is made in these steps:
- Rince soybeans
- Soak soybeans in water
- Steam soybeans
- Spray natto-kin(bacteria)
You can watch the process in this video : How to make natto in factory.
How to make it at home
Can I make it at home?
It takes time and requires some cooking utensils, but YES you can!
This video "How to make natto at home(With English subtitles)" shows how to do it so if you are curious, check it out.
I haven't tried it yet, but I'm interested in it.
Type of Natto
There are many types of natto you can find in Japan but in this section, I describe three different types by the size of the beans.
#1 Extra Small and Small
This size is the most popular one eaten at home daily. It is close to the size of rice grains, which makes it easy to eat with rice and also easy to mix.
#2 Medium and Large
Large beans are chewier and you can enjoy the texture and flavor of the fluffy beans.
It's good to eat as it is, and also good for soup.
#3 Hikiwari natto (crushed natto)
Hikiwari natto is made by crushing soybeans, removing the skin, and then fermenting.
Fermentation time takes less so it tastes a bit different from other natto. It has a soft and smooth texture.
Since there is no skin, dietary fiber is less and easier to digest so it's recommended for small children.
How to store natto
Keep it in the fridge.
You can also freeze it and it will last for about 1 month.
When eating frozen natto, leave it in the fridge for a half-day to defrost naturally. Do not use a microwave oven as it ruins the taste.
Does natto go bad?
Natto's fermentation continues even after shipping.
It can be eaten even after the expiration date(I do sometimes), but the smell will get stronger and the taste will get bitter.
Also when exposed to 10C(50F) or higher for a long time, fermentation continues and generates a bad smell.
So it's better to keep it in the fridge and eat within the expiration date.
Is natto healthy?
Natto is a healthy Japanese superfood. It's packed with soybean's rich nutrients, and the nutrients are further increased by fermentation.
It is rich in protein, potassium, magnesium, iron, dietary fiber, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
Natto has various health benefits, but the one that I really like is the effect of nattokinase and natto-kin.
Natto contains an enzyme called nattokinase, which helps break up blood clots and blood flow smoothly.
Thanks to that, it also prevents vascular diseases, so it is recommended to eat natto every day.
It's hard to know what's going on inside your blood vessels. But if natto keep it healthy? then let's eat it and be healthy.
By the way, nattokinase will be lost when heated above 70 C so it is best to eat as it is without heating.
If you eat natto with rice, let the rice cool down a little before eating, not hot rice.
Natto-kin contained in natto is a type of good bacteria and it keeps your gut healthy.
When your gut works actively and healthy, bowel movement is improved, boosts your immune system, and prevents you from getting sick(immune cells are concentrated in your gut).
Another benefit is, if your gut is working properly, it will block harmful substances, making it easier to absorb necessary nutrients properly.
Fortunately, heating natto doesn't kill this natto-kin so you can cook it and still get the benefit.
I pay attention to provide a gut-healthy meal for my family because I think it is most important to stay healthy.
Eat natto and be energetic!
How to eat Natto
There are so many ways to enjoy natto but I will show you the most common way to eat: natto gohan(natto over rice).
Natto gohan is the best!
We love it so much, and we eat it almost every morning.
It's a quick, easy, healthy, nutrients rich breakfast.
Natto is sold in an individual pack, so all you have to do is open the pack, mix and put it over rice.
How to prepare natto
Natto comes with natto sauce and karashi(Japanese mustard) and 1 pack are for one serving which is about 50g.
This is how I prepare natto. You can watch it in this video as well.
- Open the pack and you see the sauce and karashi on the top.
- Put the sauce and karashi aside and take the film on top of the natto.
- Pour the sauce and karashi over natto.
- Mix with chopsticks until smooth.
I mix it 10 to 20 times until the sauce is evenly mixed. It takes no time.
Mix more to increase Umami
However, to bring natto's umami more, it's recommended to mix it very well.
There is an article that scientifically proves that if you mix well, the umami score will increase, and also if you add the sauce in several times separately, the taste will be better.
The method from the article:
- Mix 400 times
- Add the sauce after mixing
- Add the sauce in multiple times(not at once)
I've tried it and see the photo below. The left photo is mixed 20 times, right photo is mixed 400 times.
You can see more white gooey stuff around natto in the right photo. It definitely tastes better, more fluffy and soft as it contains more air.
Also, it's less stringy so easier to eat.
If you are curious, please try and compare the taste.
Natto gohan variations
Simple natto gohan(just natto and rice) is delicious but adding some toppings is even more enjoyable!
It's fun to add various textures and tastes such as "sour, spicy, thick, creamy" to natto. Are you interested? Let's dive in!
Here are the ingredients.
- Nagaimo(Mountain yam): Nagaimo is a root vegetable and eaten raw. When grated, it's slimy and gooey.
- Umeboshi(Pickled Plum): Japanese traditional pickles. It's sour and salty.
- Boiled egg
Let me show you how to prepare each ingredients.
Mix with natto sauce and karashi beforehand.
- Grated Nagaimo：Peel and grate it. Place it on natto and pour a bit of soy sauce.
- Umeboshi：Remove the seed, chop it to make a paste and place it on natto.
- Scallions：Chop it and place it on natto.
- Grated Daikon：Peel and grate it, and place it on natto.
- Kimchi：Place it on natto.
- Okra：Boil okra lightly and cut into slices. Place it on natto and top it with katsuobushi(bonito flakes).
- Boiled egg：Mash it and mix it with mayonnaise. Place it on natto and top it with aonori(seaweed).
- Avocado：Cut it into bite-sized pieces. Place it on natto and add a pinch of salt.
Prepare a bowl of steamed rice(see how to cook Japanese rice) and enjoy the natto over rice!
My most favorite is with kimchi(which is also fermented food)! The spice adds more flavor to natto.
Helpful tips to deal with gooey natto
When you eat natto, your mouth will get sticky and uncomfortable.
Once you put a bite into your mouth, swirl chopsticks(or spoon) to cut the natto's sticky stuff.
It will prevent from them floating and scattering in the air.
I couldn't make it into a recipe, but here are more ideas you could try.
Add just a little condiment, dried food, pickles, and so on to make the natto gohan gorgeous!
If you like it, please try it!
- Condiment: miso paste, mentsuyu(noodle soup), ponzu(citrus sauce), mayonnaise, wasabi(Japanese horseradish), shichimi(spice mixture)
- Oil: olive oil, sesame oil
- Seaweed: shio kombu, shredded nori, seasoned nori, furikake, Mekabu, mozuku
- Vegetables: sliced onion, tomatoes, shiso(green leaves)
- Japanese pickles: takuan, takana, nozawana, fukushinzuke
- Others: Cheese, raw egg, shirasu(baby sardine)
Other natto recipes
Natto is not only for natto gohan also good to cook with something.
These are my favorite natto recipes.
- Natto omlette
- Natto toast
- Natto sushi roll
- Natto udon noodles
- Natto miso soup
I'm going to make these recipes later, please stay tuned!
Where to buy natto?
In Japan, you can find it easy at a grocery store or convenience store.
Like the picture above, it's 3 packs together and the price is about 100yen($1).
The most popular brand is okame natto(the one with a female face).
If you live outside of Japan, you can find it in the Asian grocery store. You would find it around the tofu section or frozen food section.
Thanks For Stopping By
So how did you like it?
Natto is an amazing food. It's reasonable(in Japan), tasty, and good for your health!
If you haven't tried it yet, I can't guarantee you'll love it, but it's worth a try.
And I hope you enjoy natto gohan with kimchi, scallions or avocado.... and have a wonderful day.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment in the section below!
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog♡ If you’ve tried this recipe(or any other recipe on the blog), please give it a star rating below!
Also, feel free to leave comments if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!
Chef JA Cooks is a Japanese food blog that shares simple and healthy Japanese home cooking recipes include vegan and vegetarian. From traditional Japanese recipes to modern recipes with step by step instructions.
, which is fermented soybeans. If you are curious about how to eat it, I will show you the Japanese way.
- 1 Natto(50g/1.8oz): natto sauce and karashi(Japanese mustard) is included
- 1 bowl of Rice(150g/5.3oz)
Toppings (the amount is as you like)
- Nagaimo(Mountain yam)
- Umeboshi(Pickled Plum)
- Okra and katsuobushi(bonito flakes)
- Boiled egg and mayonnaise
- Avocado and salt
- Mix natto: Add natto sauce and karashi and mix well.
- Peel and grate it. Place it on natto and pour a bit of soy sauce.
- Umeboshi: Remove the seed, chop it to make a paste, and place it on natto.
- Scallions: Chop it and place it on natto.
- Grated Daikon: Peel and grate it, and place it on natto.
- Kimchi: Place it on natto.
- Okra: Boil okra lightly and cut into slices. Place it on natto and top it with katsuobushi(bonito flakes).
- Boiled egg: Mash it and mix it with mayonnaise. Place it on natto and top it with aonori(seaweed).
- Avocado: Cut it into bite-sized pieces. Place it on natto and add a pinch of salt.
- Natto over rice: Put natto and topping of your choice on top of the rice.
- If your natto doesn't come with sauce and karashi, you can use soy sauce, or make it on your own by mixing soy sauce, dashi and sugar.
Keywords: how to eat natto, natto gohan