Natto for breakfast, what better way to start the day?

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Natto with a raw egg. A traditional Japanese breakfast.

It doesn’t get much healthier than fermented soybeans for breakfast

Do you want to eat a wholesome breakfast? Then you may want to look to the Japanese diet for inspiration. A traditional Japanese breakfast has a variety of small dishes of prepared food such as rice, miso soup, pickles and fish, and natto. Natto is fermented soybeans and is a popular breakfast dish eaten in Japan, especially in Honshu. These little beans are packed full of protein and vitamins, So why not eat natto for your breakfast, and get your day off to a flying start?

In this article, you can find out how the Japanese eat their natto, and why you should eat these healthy little soybeans.

Table of contents:

  1. Why do people dislike natto?
  2. Is natto healthy?
  3. How to eat natto for breakfast the Japanese way
  4. The correct way to prepare natto
  5. Conclusion
Make natto for breakfast
Did you know, you can eat natto straight from the container? Simply stir in the Japanese mustard and dashi sauce.

If natto is really that healthy, then why don’t more people eat it?

The smell of natto can send people running

Let’s be honest, natto has a bad reputation, and this reputation is not unfounded. Yes, natto does have a pungent smell that can be off-putting to many. This smell comes from the healthy bacteria found on the surface of the fermenting soybeans.

Although modern strains of bacteria used in the fermentation process have resulted in milder and less overwhelming odor. For me, natto smells nutty, and I’d describe the smell similar to peanuts. But for others the smell is too strong.

However, if your buying from a small local business, then they might be using traditional or naturally occurring strains of bacteria. And this can smell like ammonia. As you can imagine, the smell of ammonia isn’t exactly appealing, especially first thing in the morning.

Natto really is slimy

Natto is so foreign-looking that some people are completely grossed out by the appearance and texture. I must admit it isn’t exactly pretty to look at someone eating these slimy beans. Japanese like the texture of natto, but slimy food in the West is not common. However, don’t let that put you off, natto tastes great and is healthy.

Brand of natto for children
Did you know there are brands of natto for children? Inside is the same tasty soybeans but the dashi sauce is slightly sweeter.

Why eat Natto for breakfast?

Natto contains a lot of protein

Beans are a great source of protein as we all know, and fermented soybeans are no exception. But unlike baked beans, there is little preparation and clean-up. And if you’re like me, I always add a big dollop of butter to my baked beans to soften the taste.

Natto, however, contains a whole heap of protein and is often eaten a stand-alone dish for a quick and easy meal that takes seconds to prepare. Although most Japanese have a rice cooker and have their natto with a bowl of rice.

This Japanese breakfast is full of protein and carbohydrates and will give you the energy to start the day.

Look to natto if you want a great source of Vitamin K

Natto is full of Vitamin K. How much? Well, the tiny beans are packed full of it. And ounce for ounce it’s once of the highest natural sources of vitamin K you can find.

According to medical studies, vitamin K has shown to help heal wounds and be beneficial for your bones. Some say natto can slow down the effects of aging. And there are pharmaceutical companies that make vitamin K tablets, deriving the vitamin from natto.


How is natto eaten for breakfast?

Ask five Englishmen how to make a cup of tea, and you’ll probably get five different answers. However, natto is often enjoyed with a cup of green tea and a bowl of rice.

Natto is best served cold or at room temperature. Japanese do not eat natto heated, like we eat beans in the West.

How to prepare Natto for breakfast?

Natto is easy to prepare. In true Japanese fashion, natto comes in single servings and with sauces to accompany it. Although these sauces vary depending on the brand of natto. Usually, however, a packet of natto contains two packets of sauce. The first is Japanese mustard, and the other is a special sauce that consists of dashi and soy sauce. 

  1. Open the box and remove the packets of sauce
  2. Remove plastic covering the natto. Lift the covering and quickly rotate to remove the strings of natto
  3. Mix natto with chopsticks. The natto will become stringy, but this is a good sign
  4. Open and add the small packet of mustard and sauce
  5. Finally, mix mustard and sauce in with the natto

I have great tips on how you can enjoy natto if you want to learn more.

How to make natto?
I recommend the twirling motion to remove the strands of natto for the plastic covering. And then fold the plastic to avoid sticking to other surfaces.

Check your local supermarket for natto

If you have natto at your local supermarket, why not give it a try for breakfast? You’ll most likely find it in the refrigerated section. Natto needs to be stored in the fridge, otherwise it goes bad very quickly.

I would also recommend trying the different natto brands. Some companies that make natto, add different sauces. And use different sized beans. If you haven’t eaten natto before, I would recommend the standard size. The bigger soybeans can take a bit of getting used to.

Do you already eat natto? Then you could be interested on how to select and store natto? And if are, just click the link for another article from a Japanese expat.

References

  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10874601/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/natto#section4
  4. https://matcha-jp.com/en/3158
  5. https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m34
  6. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2018/04/28/food/natto-will-change-life-youll-give-try/

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