How to make Natto taste better?
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. Then, this post is for you. 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 lookout for when buying natto and I’ll pass these tips on to you.
Table of contents
- Getting past the terrible image
- Make sure you have fresh natto
- Eat natto cold
- Choose your favorite natto maker
- Bonus tip
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. This seems to be particularly true in western countries, where 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 actually find it quite pleasant. This could be due to food companies using strains of bacteria that produce a milder smelling natto.
Natto is really good for you
Despite the negative press, there’s not denying that natto is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. In Japan natto is said to be so good for your health. That they even have a phrase translated to English as “Natto Brain.” This saying is used to describe someone who is creative or intelligent.
Yes, in Japan many people think natto is good for brain activity. That’s not exactly scientific. However, it’s well known that natto has a lot of vitamin K and this vitamin has showed numerous health benefits in medical studies.
How to make natto taste good?
Tip 1: Eat Fresh Natto
This is no surprise. However, if you’re not used to eating natto, then fresh soybeans might seem rotten. Let me explain.
Natto is fermenting soybeans, that have active bacteria on the surface of the beans. Fresh natto will look moldy, and if you look closely, natto 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.
Fresh natto will look moldy with a white layer covering the beans. This is a good sign. Soybeans that are a few days old, will start losing this white covering. Also the soybeans will become more slimy 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 nicer tasting beans.
While you may have seen pictures of rice with natto on top. 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, however, you don’t have to.
- Japanese prefer eat natto cold or at room temperature
- Natto placed on hot rice will heat up the beans, so some Japanese like to keep the two dishes separate
Tip 3: Not all natto tastes the same
Each brand has a slightly different taste
- In Japanese supermarkets there is a huge selection of natto to choose from. 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, with most makers now using bacteria which makes natto less smelly. However, these bacterial starters can strongly influence the flavor of natto. So you may prefer one brand over another.
Natto comes with a variety different flavorings
While mustard and a dashi and soy sauce combination still remains popular, many new flavors have entered the market.
For example, you can try combination 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 do make natto taste a lot better.
If you make your own natto from a starter, then you’ll need to add your own condiments. To give a extra flavor to your natto.
I recommend adding a little soy sauce and mustard. The Japanese mustard or “Karashi” tends to be a mild and a little sweeter than regular mustard. The yellow mustard, usually put on hot dogs, is fairly 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.
Experiment with Natto
Even though many Japanese prefer to eat natto as a stand alone dish, or on-top of a bowl of rice. Other dishes such as 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 least 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. The beans are also still fermenting so in warmer weather they can go bad quickly, so keep them in the fridge. If stored correctly the natto should be good for a week.
Also remember the following
- Eat fresh natto and fresh in this case is moldy
- 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?