How to Eat Natto

I started to eat natto, a kind of fermented soybean, after I became convinced that we need to eat plenty of fermented foods to be healthy. That was four or five years ago. Recently I learned it is a very good source of Vitamin K2, which is a co-factor of Vitamin D3.

This post about an infographic called World Stinky Foods (in Japanese) complains that the infographic doesn’t include natto. In my experience, however, natto has a moderately strong taste but does not stink. If anything it has too little smell, which is why it comes with packets of mustard and sauce. I think it is the texture that some people don’t like. Wikipedia refers to this difference of perception: “The flavor of natto can differ greatly between people; some find it tastes strong and cheesy and may use it in small amounts to flavor rice or noodles, while others find it tastes bland and unremarkable, requiring the addition of flavoring condiments.”

By ordering it in restaurants, I have finally figured out a good way to eat it: 1. Add both flavoring packets (mustard and sauce). 2. Add a raw egg. 3. Add chopped onion. 4. Mix. The egg adds protein and creaminess, the onion adds bite and crunch. I might try it with scrambled eggs. Ever since I learned that Mr. T (a rat) liked scrambled eggs, I have been eating about one egg per day.

6 Replies to “How to Eat Natto”

  1. I too found the texture of natto a problem at the start, I can barely taste anything from it except a faint hint of burnt coffee or something slightly bitter.

    I always do a raw egg with natto, and usually just the yolk as I dont think it needs to be any slimier! Good tip on the onions though.

  2. In my experience, natto seems horrifically stinky. Maybe one gets used to what wikipedia calls the “powerful smell” with repeated exposure. I didn’t mind the texture at all, but the smell seemed like ammonia, kind of hard to put up with.

  3. Timely – I was wondering what to do with the natto in my freezer, since I rarely cook rice any more. I take it you are eating this “straight,” i.e. not over rice.

    Why do you add a raw (rather than scrambled) egg?

    Red onion or yellow/white onion?

    As a complete aside, it’s interesting that the styrofoam natto box does not feel cold to the touch even when straight out of the freezer.

  4. 3/3 of my friends so far, when asked (or not asked), never want me to microwave or even eat natto anywhere near them because of the smell.

    Thanks for the raw egg tip; always on the lookout for more places to put those. Double bonus for supreme gross-out when others see me eating it like that. Wonder if I can somehow get the half stick of butter in there, too.

  5. I tried some natto this past week and it was not exactly what I had expected. It didn’t smell totally horrific, but a wee bit off-putting. I mixed a bit in with some green onion and soy sauce and served it over rice for breakfast. Slimy, yes, but not bad tasting at all. I can’t imagine eating a ton of it one sitting. But I think any taste can be acquired.

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