I’m almost 40 years old and half-Japanese and I have never eaten natto, a.k.a. fermented soybeans, before today. I am adopted and grew up without knowing any Japanese people. I didn’t even know what natto was until I was in my twenties.
I must have been feeling a little wild Thursday night (par-tay!!) because I bought a package of frozen natto from the Korean grocery store that carries a lot of Japanese food. Having no idea what to do with it or how to prepare it, I figured I would have to look it up on the internet in order to figure out what I was to do with the 3 packages in my frozen natto pack. Luckily for me, I got a hold of my wonderful friend Yoshie who personally showed me how to eat natto.
Yoshie grew up in Japan eating natto. She loves it! Now that I’ve tried it, I can say I’m not a huge fan. Natto is a little scary even though I grew up eating far grosser things like hot dogs and cream of chicken casserole, eww nasty.
Natto comes in a styrofoam package. There were several kinds in the freezer section.
Looks innocent enough. My natto was still frozen when I arrived at Yoshie’s, ha ha, oops. So it was not ready to eat. Yoshie had some defrosted natto in the fridge which is why I did not escape eating natto today.
Yoshie opens the package…
Hold me, I’m scared.
For one, natto smells bad, kind of like certain cheeses. I was never a fan of cheese smells. It is made of fermented soybeans. Supposedly it is very healthy because the fermentation helps your stomach to make good bacteria. Then there is the sticky texture. I was reminded of marshmallows, especially Rice Krispie treats (which are easily veganized, BTW) when you mix the marshmallow into the krispies and they stick together.
Yeah, it’s definitely stinky and gooey/slimy.
We mixed in soy sauce, ponzu, and wasabi. It was still scary. You have to swirl your chopsticks in the air to make the thready marshmallow strings detach. Seriously. I would have had no idea about this if it wasn’t for Yoshie.
Then Yoshie made me some sushi rice and nori wraps for the natto, which was really good.
Now I was feeling like a totally spoiled princess because Yoshie not only showed me how to eat natto, she made me seaweed wraps for it and then proceeded to make me my vegan lunch of today, Natto Fried Rice.
The slimy/stinky thing went away as she stir fried the natto. I may not entirely care for plain natto but natto fried rice is absolutely delicious! Now I know what I will do with my remaining packages of natto… Boy, Yoshie is a great friend. Thanks Yoshie!