Natto is a traditional Japanese food with strong flavor and smell. Natto is very good because it has lots of health benefits. Learn what is natto, how to make natto with high-quality ingredients,natto food recipe, and how to enjoy natto!
Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. It has been known since ancient time. Many people eat natto, so you can say that it is a food that is loved by many generations.
Making natto includes a fermentation process to convert carbohydrates into alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms (natto starter/natto bacillus) under anaerobic conditions. Therefore, the ingredients of natto are soybeans and natto starter only.
Natto has sticky and slimy texture, strong flavor, and rather strong smell.
A lot of people love natto, but there are also many people who dislike it.
For you who haven't tried it yet, please try by all means!
In Japan, natto is very popular.
We can say that all Japanese know natto.
Japanese people usually eat natto as breakfast food.
In addition, natto is unexpectedly good for your health. It has many nutrients in one serving. This tiny, sticky little thing will keep you healthy if you consume it!
The Nutrients of Natto, a Superfood from Japan
According to Japanese Population-Based Osteoporosis (JPOS) Study, the consumtion of natto has many benefits such as protection againts breast cancer, prostate cancer, menopausal symptoms, heart disease and osteoporosis. This benefits are derived from the isoflavones inside natto.
These are five health benefits you can get from natto:
Natto Benefit 1 Contains Probiotics
The soybeans in natto undergo a fermentation process which creates conditions that promote the growth of probiotics.
Probiotics is the "good" and "helpful" bacteria that have many benefits to our body.
Some of the benefits are they improve your food digestion, as a defense against toxins and harmful bacteria, and can help reduce gas, constipation, and bloating. Probiotic content also help to cure diarrhea.
Natto Benefit 2 Rich in Vitamin K
Natto is abundant with vitamin K. A serving of nattō (100g) provides 29% of the Daily value (DV) of vitamin K.
It's rather easy to find another food with vitamin K1. You can find vitamin K1 in many green vegetables such as spinach.
However, another important K vitamin, vitamin K2, is not as easy to find. Vitamin K2 is produced by bacteria, and natto happens to be rich of it. Vitamin K2 delivers a wide range of health benefits, such as maintaining bone density, supports bone health by increasing bone mass and slowing boneloss, and is associated with lower risk of heart disease, artery calcification and death.
Lack of vitamin K in your bloodstream puts you at risk of osteoporosis, bleeding, and delayed healing of bruises and wounds.
Natto Benefit 3 Source for Vitamin C
A serving of nattō (100g) provides 22% of the Daily value (DV) of vitamin C. Natto has higher antioxidant activity capacity than raw soybean because it is fermented.
Vitamin C, or also known as antioxidant vitamins, is among the essential nutrients your body needs. This vitamin is suggested to decrease oxidative damage and could lowering the risk of certain chronic diseases.
It also could boost your immunity by helping the body to fights off infection.
Natto Benefit 4 Help You Lose Weight
Natto is the best choice for those who want to maintain a stable weight or when dieting.
It is because natto contains just over 200 calories with 5g of dietary fiber in one serving. This content could help you to control your diet.
The dietary fiber content in natto fullfil 22% of the Daily Value (DV). Good thing about dietary fiber is it makes you feel fuller, so it's good to eat natto in your breakfast. Dietary fiber also promotes the digestive system to work more effectively.
Natto Benefit 5 Good for the Skin
Natto is rich of a vitamin known as pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), which is people little-known about, that is important to maintain healthy, beautiful skin.
Vitamin PQQ can help you maintain a beauty and healthy skin - which makes you look younger.
You can prevent the effects of premature aging. This vitamin is the perfect addition to your diet.
It is also said that the best way to consume soybean is the fermented soybean, such as natto, miso or tempeh.
There are two types of natto; itohiki natto and tera natto. There is also dried natto - which is safe to be shipped abroad because it is freeze-dried. The types of natto can differ their taste and structure. Feel free to taste it and find your own type!
Itohiki natto is the usual natto that we know. We tried all types of Itohiki Natto so we'll tell you about our comments and its differences! Itohiki Natto (stringy natto) can be categorized into 3 types:
1. Marudaizu Natto
Marudaizu or whole-soybeans natto use the whole soybeans and fermenting them to become natto. This type is the most popular one.
The size of the bean used will affect the natto's stickiness. The bigger the bean, the less sticky things get when you mix it. So if you are new in this "natto world", choosing bigger beans will be a good choice for beginners.
We also taste the marudaizu natto that is made with black soybean. The taste is more flavourful comparing to the yellow soybeans.
Black soybean are usually using soy sauce and wasabi as their topping. The topping gives a little spiciness at first (wasabi), but it become refreshing once you chew it. As for the smell, black soybean natto has a weaker smell and it won't bother people who doesn't really like natto.
2. Hikiwari Natto
The grounded natto is made by roasting soybeans -> grinding soybeans -> removing the peel -> and boiling soybeans. This type of soybean creates more surface area for the bacteria to grab onto, making this natto the stickiest and strongest tasting of them all. Hikiwari natto is easy to eat because of its small, chopped sized. The taste is also fresher than marudaizo natto.
I would like to recommend this natto for you who already like to eat natto. Because it is more sticky compared to the usual marudaizu natto, this can be your next challenge in your natto eating experience.
3. Goto Natto
Goto natto is a fermented form of natto, koji (malt), and salt. It took around 1 week to complete the fermentation process. Its origin is from Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture.
After having been changed to be made with less salt, it is sold under the name of "Yukiwari Natto."
We tried to make the traditional-style of Goto Natto and fermented it for 1 week, and the taste is very amazing!
At first, we thought that Hikiwari Natto has the strongest taste among all natto variations, but Goto Natto has the strongest taste after all. It has strong aroma and taste, a little bit salty (depends on how much you put the salt) but in the same time, you can enjoy a little bit sweetness from the rice koji.
The texture is not that sticky and sometimes the rice koji is stick into your teeth. The strings became thinner and not as sticky as Marudaizu Natto.
As you can see at the image, the natto's color became darken because of the fermentation process. Usually, natto's taste will become awful when you leave it for a few days. But in this case, the beans are still tasty. You can normally eat it with rice or another toppings.
"This combination (natto, rice koji, and salt) increase the umami of natto!"
Not many Japanese people know about this Goto Natto, even we tried to make it for the first time. So, why don't you take your try too?
Another type of natto is called Tera Natto (Shiokara natto or salty natto). Tera natto is said to firstly made by monks in temples.
It was produced in one of the Buddhist temple called "Nassho" that became the origin of natto's name.
Tera natto is another kind of natto that is not stickly. It is a savoury fermented black soybeans that has a similar taste to red miso.
The production is using koji-mold, then salt is added before the mixture is set aside for the fermentation process which took approximately six months.
Like the usual natto, Tera natto can be eaten plain or added to a dishes like miso soup (mix it with hatcho miso will be delicious), or make a kinkan maki.
Dried natto is natto that immediately freeze-dried. In Kumamoto Prefecture, dried natto is called as "Korumame" and it has been popular since ancient times too.
It has the same flavor and taste of natto even it is dried. Also, dried natto is not sticky like normal natto. So it's easy to consume, and good for those who don't really like sticky natto but still want to take natto's nutrients. Instead, the umami and nutrients are improved because it is frozen.
Some commercially available dried natto may contain a lot of salt. However, Kawashima The Japanstore have a salt-free dried natto. It is also free of food additives, salt, sugar, oil, and genetically modified soybeans. So you can consume it without worry. Click here to read more about "Dried Hikiwari Natto 45g (Domestic Soybean 100%)"!
It is a type of fungus for making natto. Sprinkle a small amount of Bacillus natto on the steamed soybeans and keep it warm, so that fermentation will proceed and natto will be completed.
I heard that the commercially sold natto can be used as a natto starter. Is there any reason to use the bacillus natto as the natto starter?
If you use commercially sold natto as natto starter, the fermentation will not go well because it has weak fermentation ability. It will not able to pull the sticky strings, and the bacteria will produce a strange smell to both natto.
Why my homemade natto hardly make white slimy strings?
There is a possibility that the fermentation is not going well. Please keep warm and keep it for about 12 hours and see the condition.
The natto is extremely smelly!
There is a possibility that miscellaneous bacteria have been produced during the fermentation. Please do not eat the finished natto. Please try again to make homemade natto after checking and paying more attention to hygiene.
The finished smell of natto has a strong smell of ammonia.
After the end of the fermentation process (heating the natto), leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Fermentation will stop and ammonia odor will decrease.
Natto Preservation Method
Homemade and moist natto can be refrigerated for 3 days. 1-3 days of aging in the refrigerator will result in more improved flavor.
However, it will last for more days if you store it in the freezer. Don’t forget to place a piece of clear film or food parchment paper on the top of the beans, and seal the natto with air tight container. If you leave the natto in a place with high temperature, the amino acids will break down and cause an ammonia smell.
On the other side, dried natto is safe to be preserved for a long time at room temperature.
Signs when Natto goes Bad
Natto does spoil. Natto may spoil due to the incorrect way to preserve natto (too long storage time or storing natto in the unsuitable temperature).
There are few signs when your natto goes bad. Please discard it right away when you notice these signs:
- The natto has strong ammonia smell,
- White rough stuff starts to grow and covers the natto,
- The texture is too firm or too soft,
- The color of soybeans are faded.
How to Deliciously Eat Natto
Natto is said to be Japanese-style breakfast's classic menu. Almost all of the Japanese households have stocks of this fermented food. Some people can't eat it, but you can't argue that natto has nutrient benefits for your health!
You need to learn how Japanese actually eat natto to improve your natto eating experience.
There are many delicious ways to eat natto. You can eat as it is, as dressings, or use it in cooking. One of these methods may become your favorite, so please check it out!
1. The traditional way with toppings
Japanese people would love to eat their natto with toppings.
Each people would have their own preference, but here's some topping to choose :
- raw egg
- shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
- tamanegi (onion), sliced
- karashi (Japanese mustard)
- wasabi (recommended for black soybean natto)
- nori (seaweed)
- kimchi, etc.
One important advice before eating your natto!
Make sure to stir / mix your natto thoroughly. Wait the texture until it become sticky, and that is the perfect time to eat your natto!
You can put your favorite topping at your own preference afterwards. Some topping will need another stir to make the taste even and delicious (shoyu and karashi, for example).
You can eat natto in the top of your rice. Japanese people said that rice is one of the best natto partner, especially when the rice is still warm.
When you put natto with rice and raw egg, it become natto tamago kakegohan (rice mixed with raw egg plus natto as the topping).
But eating it by itself will also be a good choice. You will be able to taste the unique, delicious taste of natto directly into your mouth!
2. Add your natto to dishes
Why not combine the western style food (spaghetti) with Japanese cousine (natto)? Japanese people usually add egg when making natto spaghetti. Or it can be using another ingredients. In addition, there are some restaurant who already have this on their menu.
Natto maki roll
A maki roll with natto as their topping. You can taste the authentic taste of Japanese rice wrapped with nori (seaweed) with the sticky sensation from the natto.
For you who currently wondering whether curry is a perfect match for natto.. the answer is yes. Japanese style curry is good with natto. You need to try it yourself before you gonna regret it!
Gyoza is a wrapped dough usually filled with meats, and vegetables. But you can also add natto to make gyoza. The important point is you can enjoy gyoza after steamed it or fried it. Delicious!
Another form of natto with noodles. But this time, it's soba (a noodles made from buckwheat flour). This is another favorite way to add natto to dishes.
When eating raw egg is not your style, you can try to add natto in your omellet. Japanese omellet (玉子焼き；grilled egg) is one of the Japanese-style recipe. You will need dashi (simple broth made with dried bonito flakes) and Japanese soy sauce to add more umami to the dishes.
What is Natto and How to Eat Natto Deliciously Natto is a versatile food, there are many delicious ways to eat natto. After you learn how to make natto, let's find out more ways to eat natto. Follow the delicious recipes in the article below to help you enjoy natto to the fullest! Read the article here
Where to Buy Natto
Natto is delicious when you buy it from Japan's grocery store or Asian supermarket.
However, fresh natto can't be shipped overseas because natto has a short storage time. Natto's quality may degrade because of the shipment, too.
The best way to enjoy fresh natto when you are far from buying it is to make homemade natto.
You can also enjoy dried natto because it's safe to be shipped overseas.
In Kawashima The Japanstore, we are shipping natto starter (Bacillus subtilis natto), good-quality organic soybeans, and even dried natto. Please take a look!
Recommended Products for Natto
Pesticide-free handmade natto kit (Powder natto bacteria 3 g + no pesticide soybean 500 g set from Hokkaido)
Pesticide free handmade Natto kit is a set of high-quality powdery natto bacteria of Hokkaido's non-pesticidal soy "Suzumaru" and 100% soybean raw material (not genetically modified). You can enjoy your own favorite natto with top quality bacillus natto, "Nanpu Suzumaru", the ultimate grain natto suitable for natto.
100% natto starter/bacillus natto powder extracted from organic soybean. Since this natto starter has a very strong fermentation ability, every person can easily make natto at home. Even for first-timers. Carefully read "How to Make Natto" in our website to make your own homemade natto using this starter.
Hokkaido non-agricultural soybean "SUZUMARU" is a non-pesticide soybean "SUZUMARU" raised carefully by Mr. HIRAWAKE who has been making soybean in Hokkaido Makubetsu-cho for over 30 years. It is a small grain variety most suitable for natto.