Natto

July 2, 2013

by Keita Matsui and Shiho Tanaka

Natto is a traditional Japanese fermented food. Natto-bacteria (aerobic bacillus) is added to steamed soybeans in order to make natto. It has special sticky and gooey texture and strong smell. Japanese people say that natto is very stringy and has a bad smell, but there is also amanatto (sweet natto), which is very sweet and doesn’t have a smell. Japanese people eat amanatto as a cheap sweet. Elderly people like it especially, because it is soft and delicious.

Traditional Natto

 

Health Benefits

Natto is extremely nutritious. For example, it contains a lot of vitamin K and protein. Natto is also 212 kcal per serving, so it is good for diet. There are many benefits to eating natto. Among these benefits are:

  • Skin becomes white and smooth.
  • Stomach and intestines stay healthy.
  • Increase in physical strength.
  • Strengthens the immune system.
  • Increases endurance.
  • Lowers cholesterol.
  • Prevents hangovers.
  • Lowers risk of blood clots.
  • Increases fertility.
  • Prevents high blood pressure.
  • Lowers inflammation.
  • Increases lactic acid bacteria.
  • Guards the stomach wall.

As you can see, if you eat natto, you be a very healthy person.

How to Eat Natto

You can eat natto as it is if you want, but in Japan, people usually eat natto mixed with something else. For example, most Japanese people mix natto with chopped green onions. It is very nutritious! If you eat them together, you get more nutrition than eating just natto or green onion alone.Other ways are to eat natto mixed with kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) and mayonnaise. You can also eat natto with spinach and ume-(plam)-dried bonito fish, or you can eat it with takana. Takana is grass in rape family. In Japan, Takana is cooked usually. It is a little spicy, but delicious.

Japanese people also cook with natto. Do you know tempura (battered and deep fried seafood and vegetables)? It is usually made with shrimp, cuttlefish, pumpkin, sweet potato and chikuwa. Natto can also become Tempura, too. Natto is rare as Tempura, but it delicious.

Natto is also used to make gyoza. It is gyoza that wrapped dough rolled flour and water with meats, vegetables and spinach. Usually, gyoza is made with Chinese chives, ground meat, and so on. However, you can also add natto to make gyoza. Furthermore, we can use natto in pasta, curry, and Okonomiyaki and so on. Okonomiyaki is Japanese food. It is Okonomiyaki that baked the liquid dissolved flour into water which mixed meats, vegetables and seafood. Finally, Japanese people even use natto on toast. It is delicious. It is even more enjoyable by combining it with mayonnaise together. As you can see, because natto is used in so many different ways, it is an all-purpose food.

Natto Gyoza

 

Natto Pasta

Different Types of Natto

We usually eat soybean-Natto, but there are many types. There are,Kuromame, Kintokimame, Shirohanamame and Toramame. Among types of soybeans, there are big ones and small ones. Incidentally, we like the small ones. We think you can easily eat natto made from the small ones.

Kuromame Natto
Kuromame natto is made from black soybeans. It tastes sweeter than normal natto and it feels a little harder. If you chew it for long time, you will enjoy the taste more and more.

Kuromame

 

Kintokimame Natto
Kintoki beans are mainly used to make amanatto (sweet natto). It is is very sweet and delicious. It doesn’t have smell. Ama-natto is floured much sugar.

Kintokimame

 

Shirohanamame Natto and Toramame Natto
The Shirohana bean and Tora bean are also used to make natto. Like the Kintoki bean, they are also mainly used to make Amanatto.

Where to Buy Natto

We can buy natto in both the convenience store and supermarket. You can buy both cheap and expensive versions of natto. You can usually buy natto for about 100 yen to 300 yen. And, if you go to a Japanese-food restaurant, you can sometimes order natto. However, not all restaurants serve natto, so if you really want to eat it, you need to visit a supermarket or buy it from the internet. Indeed, there are various types of natto for sale on the internet. Let’s eat Natto!

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