Natto, traditional fermented food made from soybeans

Natto is a traditional food made by fermenting steamed soybeans with bacteria.

In Japan, we often eat it with rice at breakfast. Originally eaten at a temple as a vegetarian dish, it has a history of 1100 years.

It is popular as a health food, although it is often shunned by first-timers due to its stickiness and unique odor.

What is Natto and can I eat it?

Materials of Natto

Soybeans, and natto bacteria (Bacillus natto)は

Gluten-free Low-gluten Wheat-free Low FODMAPs High FODMAPs
with Beef with Pork with Daily with Egg for Vegetarian
Restaurant Fast food Food supermarket Convenience store Drug store

Stir before eating to make Natto delicious

Sprinkle natto bacteria on boiled soybeans and leave at 40 ˚C for 24 to 30 hours to allow fermentation to proceed and natto to be produced. After completion, it is stored at 10 ˚C or below to prevent fermentation from proceeding.

Natto usually comes in disposable plastic containers for each person and comes with sachets of sauce and mustard. Stir well with chopsticks the natto in the container, add sauce and mustard, and then eat.

The natto in the container is not very sticky. When you stir this, it will become sticky and you will start to draw threads. This is a mixture of sugar and amino acids contained in natto.

It is said that natto tastes better when stirred, and this is said to be due to the fact that the amino acids, which are the umami ingredients, are torn apart by stirring.

Introducing how to eat natto deliciously. After removing the sauce and mustard from the container, stir well with chopsticks. Add the sauce to the natto where the stickiness increases and the thread can be seen , and you’re done. Please add mustard as you like.

Also, although it is not included in commercially available natto, chopped green onions are often added.

Natto has a peculiar smell. This is the odor of the ingredients produced when Bacillus natto breaks down soybeans. It is the same as fermented foods such as cheese have a unique odor.

By the way, natto wrapped in straw is sometimes sold.

This has something to do with the old way of making natto. Natto has been made since 1100 years ago when there was no equipment for culturing bacteria. Originally, when boiled soybeans were wrapped in rice straw and placed in a warm room, the soybeans were fermented by the natural natto bacteria attached to the rice straw, and natto was produced.

The resulting natto was sold wrapped in straw. Nowadays, it is made in a factory with good temperature control, but it is a remnant of that time that it is wrapped in straw and sold.

Try to eat Natto!

How much ?

  • $ 0.8, a side menu at a Gyudon (beef bowl) restaurant
  • $ 1, pack of 3 at food supermarkets.

Where can I eat or get Natto ?

  • Accommodation including breakfast service
    Natto is often served at a Japanese breakfast. Accommodations that serve a Japanese breakfast are often included in the breakfast menu.
  • Gyudon (beef bowl) restaurant
    Natto may be included in the breakfast set menu offered at a Gyudon restaurant. If it is not included, you can order more.
  • Food supermarkets and convenience stores
    Natto is available at almost every food supermarket and convenience store. Mainly 3 packs of products are sold.

Precautions when eating Natto

For gluten-free people

Natto does not contain wheat ingredients, but the sauce that comes with natto contains soy sauce.

The raw materials for soy sauce are soybeans, wheat and salt. However, the protein contained in the raw materials is decomposed during the brewing process and does not remain in the soy sauce.

Therefore, the sauce contains very little gluten. If you have celiac disease, decide whether to use sauce. If you are gluten-free except for celiac disease, you can use sauce without any problem. However, make the final decision yourself.

Japanese writer’s comment for Natto

At convenience stores, rice balls called “natto maki” are on sale.

It is made by wrapping seasoned natto with rice and sea weed, and can be eaten with one hand. The smell of natto is also considerably suppressed. If you are eating natto for the first time, this product is recommended. It’s about $ 1.2, so give it a try.