First Impressions: Natto

What is it? Fermented Soy Beans.

Usually eaten by the Japanese at breakfast over some steaming hot white rice. Some mix the white rice with raw egg too. It’s very high in protein.

I bought it from the Japan Centre on offer from £2.55 to £1.76. £1.76 for four boxes of natto seemed a good deal. I was asking a worker there about the natto, and she was really well informed, giving me her opinions, ways she eats it, and prices. She was so nice and helpful! I wish I caught her name. Anyways I found the natto in the chilled foods section. I stored mine in the freezer and thawed it in the microwave, on the website I can see that it’s not recommended to freeze. I will keep mine in the fridge from now on. I bought some a few years ago and I remember trying it and hating it, it’s clear some things have changed since then including my tastebuds.

It’s described as the Japanese version of marmite and I can see why. The first thing that hits you is the smell, it’s very pungent. Two packets of sauces were inside, mustard and some soy sauce. I poured them in and I mixed with a pair of chopsticks. The very sticky strings are very noticeable because when you are finished mixing and put the chopsticks down, the strings follow you. If you accidentally touch a bit that may have spilled out of the box, the strings will follow you too. I didn’t have fresh eggs on hand so I made do with just hot white rice and some more soy sauce. It has a really strong taste, I couldn’t taste the hotness from the mustard much, but the saltiness from the soy sauce shined through along with some bitter undertones. The texture is how it’s described everywhere, it is slimy and it does have a phlegmy consistency. I’ve attached a video showing what it’s like when mixing it.

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If you can get past the smell and what it looks like and give it a chance, it’s quite a unique and enjoyable food experience. I actually think if you like marmite you’ll get a hint of similarity with the natto too and enjoy it.



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