How to make Natto taste good with 3 simple tips.

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Make Natto taste good. Picture of 6 packs of Natto.

How can you make Natto taste good? After all, you hear people love these fermented soybeans. But you’ve eaten a few packets and simply can’t get your Natto to taste any good. In this article, you can learn how the Japanese like to eat their Natto and improve the taste of your own locally sourced fermenting soybeans. There are also a few things Japanese look out for when buying Natto.

Table Of Contents 

  • Getting past the terrible image 
  • Make sure you have fresh Natto
  • Eat Natto cold
  • Choose your favorite Natto maker
  • Bonus tip
  • Conclusion

How To Make Better? Take Out The Negative Preconceptions

The Smell Is Not As Bad As You Think.

People often have one of two reactions when eating Natto. And you are likely to fall in either one of these groups. You’ll either love it or hate it. This seems to be particularly true in western countries. Because we have nothing quite like the taste or texture.

Natto also has a unique smell. Everyone seems to describe it differently. I’ve even heard it described as dirty old socks. Yikes, I wouldn’t eat it either. Luckily, I think Natto has a nutty smell, and I actually find it quite pleasant. This could be due to food companies using strains of bacteria that produce milder-smelling Natto than in the past.

Is Natto Is Really Good For You?

Despite the negative press, there’s no denying that Natto is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. In Japan, Natto is said to be so good for your health. And they even have a phrase translated to English as “Natto Brain.” This saying is used to describe someone creative or intelligent. 

Yes, many Japanese believe that Natto is good for brain activity. That’s not scientific. However, it’s well known that Natto is a good source of vitamin K. Vitamin K has shown numerous health benefits in medical studies.

How To Make Natto Taste Good? 

Tip 1: Eat Fresh Natto

Natto is fermenting soybeans that have active bacteria on the surface of the beans. Fresh Natto will look moldy, and if you look closely, the beans will have white mold on the surface. However, older Natto will appear browner with fewer bacteria on the surface. This may look nicer, but actually, the beans are going past their used by date. And the taste deteriorates quickly.

KEY TAKEAWAY

Fresh Natto will look moldy, with a white layer covering the beans. Soybeans will start losing this white covering over serval days. Also, the soybeans will become slimmer over time, and there’s nothing worst than old beans.

Tip 2: Eat Your Natto Cold

Japanese people prefer to eat their natto cold. So store your Natto in the refrigerator if you want to eat better-tasting beans. 

While you may have seen pictures of rice with Natto on top. And this still remains the most popular way to eat Natto.

Yet many Japanese prefer to eat Natto and rice as two separate dishes. And some like to eat it straight out of the container. Sure, you can put your Natto into a bowl over hot rice. But the taste can be heavy going. 

KEY TAKEAWAY

  • Japanese prefer to eat natto cold or at room temperature. 
  • Natto placed on hot rice will heat up the beans.

Tip 3: Not All Natto Tastes The Same

Each Brand Has A Slightly Different Taste.

In Japanese supermarkets, there is a type of Natto. However, if your supermarket offers a few choices, try them all. Every brand of Natto brand can taste completely different.

Natto companies use bacteria to start the fermentation process. And this process has changed over time. Most makers now use bacteria that produce a milder smell. However, these bacterial starters can strongly influence the flavor of Natto. So you may prefer one brand over another. 

Natto Comes With A Variety Of Different Flavorings.

While mustard and a dashi and soy sauce combination remain popular, many new flavors have entered the market.

For example, you can try combinations such as daikon to wasabi. But don’t make the mistake of skipping the little packets of sauce that come in the container. They are there for a reason and sure make Natto taste much better.

If you make your own Natto from a starter, you’ll need to add your own condiments to give an extra flavor.
I recommend adding a little soy sauce and mustard. The Japanese mustard or “Karashi” tends to be mild and a little sweeter than regular mustard. The yellow mustard put on hotdogs comes close to Japanese mustard.

Natto Comes In A Variety Of Different Bean Sizes.

Bean size is another consideration if you want to enjoy Natto. While small soybeans are the standard size, you can also buy Natto with larger beans. Or with beans that have been de-skinned and cut into tiny pieces. Personally, I like the bigger beans. However, even for a Natto fan like myself, the bigger can be quite the meal.

Three Natto packets that show the different types of Natto
Natto comes in a variety of sizes. On the left, the soybeans have been de-skinned. And cut into small pieces
In the middle the Natto has standard sized beans.
On the right larger soybeans are used.

Experiment With Natto 

Many Japanese prefer to eat Natto as a stand-alone dish or on rice. However, Natto maki and Natto sushi are also common. 

Note that sushi rice is not hot. Again coming back to the point that Natto is best eaten cold or at room temperature. With that being said, Natto is sometimes eaten in Tamagoyaki. (Type of omelet which is often slightly sweetened). And Natto on toast is also becoming more popular.

How To Make Natto Taste Good? Learn From The Japanese

It seems that eating natto cold is the key to making it taste better. Make sure to store Natto in the refrigerator and serve cold. If stored correctly, the Natto should be good for a week. 

Also, remember the following: 

  • Eat fresh Natto.
  • Try different brands because they all taste different.
  • Have fun adding different flavorings

Natto Is The Japanese Breakfast Of Champions.

There are so many different Natto brands available. If your first experience wasn’t so good. I really recommend giving Natto another try. In Japan, Natto is often eaten for breakfast, and it’s well known to be extremely good for your health. What better way to start your day?

References

  1. https://www.seriouseats.com/2017/07/obsessed-ann-yonetani-natto-nyrture.html
  2. https://traditionalkyoto.com/eat/natto/
  3. https://toyokeizai.net/articles/-/128328
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/food-science/natto
  5. https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m34

4 COMMENTS

  1. Hey,

    I’m super interested in trying Natto and was wondering where I could buy some. I’ve been searching for the individual packs for a long time with no luck. But it seems like you have know how to get hold of a few packets going by pictures featured.

    • Hi Jake

      Thanks for getting in touch. I live in a region in Japan where Natto is often eaten for breakfast. So the supermarket are full of lots of different brands to try. I’d try your local Asian supermarket in your hometown. They often have import food items not regularly available in standard supermarkets.

      Good on you for wanting to try Natto

  2. Had natto my first time at a popular little Japanese restraunt…was dissapointed as it was bitter beyond belief and couldn’t even swallow a bite. 🙁 The next time I bought a pack of 3 from a market and had it over a little rice with some seasoning and was actually really good…mild almost smoky cheesy and nutty flavor- the stickiness was interesting but a little fun to eat..I started to crave it after that. If you hate it the first time try to get it fresh…have a feeling the one at the restaurant was extra fermented and probably sitting around in the fridge fermenting for an extra month or two after purchase.

    • Hi there Amber

      Thanks for leaving a comment, I’m glad you weren’t put off by your first try.

      Totally agree, for me, Natto has a really nutty favor.

      The stickiness put me off at first but when I saw how the Japanese quickly rotated their chopsticks to remove the natto stands. It was a game changer.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

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