How to eat Natto

Natto or fermented soybeans, are a staple of the standard Japanese diet. Usually consumed at breakfast, these smelly, sticky, stringy, almost cheesy fermented little beans come in small styrofoam packs about the size of a deck of card’s. Inside the packs, one typically finds a small packet of mustard as well as soy sauce. The idea is to mix the soy sauce and the mustard into the bean’s and then “bon appetite”.

Before I highlight a few more novel ways I have encountered to eat natto let me say that despite alot of the hype that has surrounded this food over the year’s (at one point it was trumpeted as a super food and then again as the ultimate diet food etc etc) it is true that natto is healthy. The soy protein in the beans is good for you and its also very cheap.

Ok on to the various way’s to indulge in natto mania….

Natto Maki
This is just a natto roll and can be purchased at any sushi place. Natto Maki is not unlike a “California roll” just sea weed and rice rapped around something in the middle, in this case that something is natto.   These are also sold in convenience stores all over Japan now and are, in fact, quite good.

Natto in the Miso soup
Prepare a piping hot bowl of your favorite type of Miso Soup and dump in the natto. I prefer to do this with some extra soy sauce as well as Tabasco sauce. It’s good people, Im telling you….

Natto, tuna, rice
Get a bowl of rice and dump in a can of tuna fish. Next you mix in the natto. Again I also add soy sauce and Tabasco ( I do love me some Tabasco) AND I use some prepackaged spice kits that you can buy at stores here in Japan. This is an easier way to get your Natto hit in the morning as opposed to natto straight for those of you have can’t handle the smell, which is quite poignant.

Chanko Nabe
This is the staple food item in the traditional Sumo diet. Nabe is like a big soup sort of…and all sorts of stuff is in it. Chanko nabe can have various ingredients but one of those is often Natto. I personally, have never eaten this but people have told me on more than one occasion that I should give Sumo a try. Trying to determine how to take this.

Boiler-maker: Natto style
I kid you not. For the uninitiated this is a beer with a pack of natto dumped in it and then it all gets skuled. The only time I have had this was at 0530 in the morning on a Tuesday in January, maybe,  in 2008 and I was talked into it by half a dozen Japanese construction workers who had just finished a shift. The answer is yes: its horrid.

I have heard rumors about Natto on Pizzas and Natto on Burger’s and I know that there is some dish involving udon and natto. The ones listed above simply the dishes I have seen or eaten. I suppose there is really no limit to the potential natto depravity and it’s all up to the imagination of the person preparing to eat up.  So please…indulge.

How often do you eat Natto?