What is Natto? Natto is sticky, repulsive, and rumored to be one thing that can split Japan into two. Natto comprises fermented soybeans. The process behind it is fascinating; it involves the use of bacteria and beans that have been aged for at least a week. The result is the classic Natto dish that is quite famous in Japanese cuisine.
What does Natto taste like? The flavor and texture of natto is the really distinctive feature that many notice. It has a funny smell and a gooey slimy texture that can make even the strongest stomachs turn.
Natto is an acquired taste. Natto has been connected to aged cheese because it smells like that. But, Natto has a mild fermented flavor that is slightly sweeter than boiled soybeans and accompanied by earthy undertones.
If you are familiar with blue cheese, trying natto shouldn’t be so bad on the first try. Regardless of how many sides to the description of natto, there is no question about the nutritional benefit that it possesses.
Nutritional Benefits of Natto
Many Japanese citizens consider natto to be a superfood. They are not so far from the truth since natto is chocked full of protein and probiotics. Probiotics are important to the overall well-being of the human system. They promote the growth of the healthy kind of bacteria and boost the immune system.
Natto plays host to vitamins C, B, K, and minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. Natto is a great inclusion to any diet; it has no cholesterol, has a low-calorie count and sugar content, and benefits the body in every way.
Natto is a great source of fiber and protein. In every 100 grams of natto, you have about 20 grams of protein. The core nutritional benefits of natto come from the presence of these two micronutrients. For example, about 50 percent of the carbohydrate content of natto comes from its fiber content. The bacteria used in the fermenting process that creates natto serves as a nutritional benefit.
Research and studies carried out have shown that this bacteria can improve the growth of a human microbiota Lactobacilli. Lactobacillus produces lactic acid which helps to keep pathogenic bacterial infection away. It also helps to protect the walls of the intestine from the invasion of bacteria. Natto could prove to be very beneficial to one’s gastrointestinal health.
Natto is a very good source of vitamin K2 which has been discovered to play a role in lowering the risk of the occurrence of cardiovascular and other related diseases. Vitamin K2 helps to transport the calcium in the body directly to the bones instead of it getting deposited in the arteries.
Culinary Uses of Natto
In Japan, natto can be served anytime in various manners depending on how creative the chef can be. Natto has been compared to miso because they are both made with soybeans but neither can serve as a replacement for the other.
Natto is traditionally served with rice, green onions, vegetables, and condiments soy sauce or karashi mustard. If you buy a pack of Natto in Japan it might be accompanied by a bottle of condiment. Somehow similar to how sushi packs are sold.
There are several other ways you can use natto in the culinary department. It can be served alongside fried chicken which is also known as kara-age in Japanese. It pairs well with kimchi, cold tofu, okra (which helps to enhance the flavor), daikon, raw eggs (not for the faint at heart), scallions, and bonito flakes. The way natto is served or what it is served with is dependent on what part of Japan you are in.
There is the question of whether natto should be eaten warm or cold. But, it is really based on preference. Whichever way you decide to have it, it is cool as long as you get to enjoy it.
What is the History of Natto? How to Procure It?
Natto is fermented with the bacteria Bacillus subtilis var. natto. The origin of natto cannot be accurately verified because there are various sources that talk about the early origins of natto. All the different sources seem to agree on the fact that natto was discovered due to an encounter of boiled beans with straw.
Natto can be bought online, it is pretty easy. If you are too far away from an authentic Asian supermarket, you can visit Amazon and have it delivered to your home. There is also the option of walking into a Japanese restaurant with natto on its menu.
Why is Natto Sticky?
The sticky nature of natto is caused by the polyglutamic acid that is produced during the fermentation of soybeans. That goop makes natto repulsive to some but it plays an important role in cosmetics because it is an excellent moisturizer.
Facts You Don’t About Natto
- Natto is estimated to have been invented sometime around 1051-1083 AD in Japan.
- Natto has been found to have properties that can improve the elasticity of the skin. Some manufacturers of skin moisturizers are using it.
- If the smell of the natto dish proves to be too pungent for you, a splash of sesame oil can help to make it bearable.