You might have heard if it before: that infamous Japanese food called natto. When encountering for the first time, many get goosebumps. Honestly, the appearance is not the main reason. Some would say it has a rather strong smell to it. So what is this mysterious food that millions of Japanese people eat, not only because of its health benefits? Let’s take a closer look.
Natto is basically fermented soy beans. It is mixed with a small potion of Japanese mustard called karashi with an additional soy sauce like substance. There are various ways of eating it. One way would be plain, as a side dish for almost any Japanese meal, another would be on the top of your rice bowl, mixed with a raw egg inside of udon noodles, etc.. Basically there is no rule on how to enjoy your natto, as long as you like it. There have even been recipe books been published just specialising in how to cook food with natto. Many of them even suggest to use natto as a pizza topping, in your daily soup or even on a slice of bread.
If you ever dare to try this rather strange food, you will soon discover that it is not that bad. Once you get used to the sticky texture ( jap. neba neba) and the unusual taste you will benefit from the nutrients, mainly vitamin K and vitamin C. Recent studies have shown that natto has positiv effects on cancer prevention. Vitamin K is even essential for preventing osteoporosis.
Natto is mostly sold in white styropor packaging, usually three in a pack. Each individual pack includes mustard, an additional soy sauce like sauce and of course natto itself. Some add spring onion after it is mixed.
There are various kinds of natto. Natto, which has crushed beans and are therefore good for “beginners” is called hikiwari. More experienced eaters might want to try ootsubu, which has bigger beans than usually.