Natto (Fermented Soy Beans)
(Natto over Rice)
Since you read this blog here in JapaneseExperts.net, I assume you know a bit (at least) about Japanese culture. And a fun part – Japanese food including Natto, too! The picture above is a typical way of eating natto in Japan – Natto over rice. You mix natto with spice, like Japanese mustard, and Soy Sauce called Shoyu. All you need to do is put the mixture over warm rice and mix the rice and Natto. If rice is freshly boiled, that will be super!
As you may know it, Natto is fermented soy beans. “Fermented” is a key here. Whatever fermented it may be, it STINKS!! Like cheese! Lots of people, even among the Japanese, who don’t like Natto tend to complain the smell of Natto keeps them away from the food.
I hated Natto as young once again because it smells awful! When my parents (Natto Lovers) bring up “Ready-to-Use” Natto on the table, I literally held my breath! I was so certain that I would never have a chance to eat Natto on my own in my life!
You, a Natto Lover, usually see Natoo at a grocery store like this in Styrofoam like this:
(Typical Natto Package in both US and Japan in current days)
Traditionally, however, you see Natto in “candy wrap” kind of straws. Of course, this is far better than Styrofoam, which relieses poisonous chemicals. I have never seen Natto sold in “candy wrap” straws in US, though….
Well, I have to tell you a story of mine – Why does a Natto hater turn into a Natto lover all of sudden?
When I was a college student (I went to a night school of a public university located in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka in Japan.), I got a very handsomely paid job – working at a notable international hotel as a morning time waitress. I worked, like other students of my college (Night School), only 3 hours a day (7 – 10 am before full-time waitress and waiters came to work). During our special shift, we were provided with “a breakfast” every single day. So, we didn’t have to have breakfast at home. We simply got up and get on a bus to go to work! During those 3 hours, we went to the hotel backroom including a filthy workers’ launge to take a break. We also could go to the small backroom cafeteria with simple kitchen, where our breakfast was prepared. 99% workers there took a break and went to the cafeteria to have meals.
All the menus consisted of all the leftover from restaurants, where we waitresses worked. So, we could eat a grilled slice of fish and rice with miso soup. This didn’t happen often. Usually whatever leftover was served in a buffet way. You took a tray and get whatever you wanted (very few choices!!) on your plates and sit down at the table to enjoy it.
Like I mentioned above, I was a Natto hater. I stayed away from my parents when and after they ate Natto. However, here in a backroom filthy small cafeteria for employees we sometimes had ONLY NATTO for a choice – NOTHING ELSE. The servers there just mixed leftover Natto in a big bowl and gave us rice.
What else could I have done in this situation? You eat ONLY rice because you hate Natto? Or, you starved to death without eating anything? I asked myself if I would rather try eating Natto by holding my breath!? No way! I was like 20 years old at that time – Hungry!! Especially after working in a restaurant, serving expensive breakfast packages (Japanese style or Western style) to hotel guests.
I felt as if I had been about to dance on a rope! OK. I could take anything other than poison! I wish I had had a clothes pinch to pinch my nose to avoid the “flavor” of Natto…
HUNGER IS THE BEST SAUCE!!!
Genuinely I was delighted with Natto Rice! What an idiot I had been before I experienced this miracle food!? I was hooked. I was even waiting for the day when nothing other than “Natto and Rice” were left. This combination looked like a diamond to me! This is how I became a Natto lover!
Nowadays, more and more people all over the world are becoming fans of Natto because of its nutritional value. And they have invented lots of recipes with Natto. Here are some example of those:
(Natto Sushi #1)
(Natto Sushi #2)
(Natto Hot Dog)
(Natto over Hiyayakko – Tofu)
(Natto in Fried Tofu)
(Natto Poke – Howaiian Style)
(Natto Hamberg – NOT Hamburger but Natto is cooked inside the patty)
Well, well… you see even Natto supplement because of it contains high nutrition:
Although I don’t deny the fact that lots of Japanese people still hate Natto, the value of its nutrition has been really appreciated all over the world. No time-consuming preparation is needed. Take it out of the fridge and mix it with soy sauce to pour it over the warm rice! You will feel you were in JUBILATION!!