Daily Vegan Lunch for 28 March, 2013: Natto Fried Rice

My friend Yoshie made me this dish when I visited her house, today’s Daily Vegan Lunch.

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Here’s a photo she took of me eating natto:

me eating natto for the first time

I got through about 1/4 of what you see in the styrofoam package. I wasn’t a huge fan of natto. The texture was a little creepy and the smell was a bit much for me, honestly. Yeah, I’m definitely American.

Yoshie showed me the secret of natto — stir frying it with rice! She not only made me lunch today, she added a great recipe for this blog by showing me how to make natto fried rice. So I did not actually make this Daily Vegan Lunch, Yoshie did. It was nice having the day off!

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon oil
1 package natto, defrosted
2 – 3 cups cooked sushi rice
4-5 green onions, finely sliced
2 – 3 teaspoons ground up kombu
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Salt to taste
Soy sauce, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil in a large pan on medium-high heat. Add the natto beans and stir fry them until the sticky threads disappear. Add the rice, green onions, kombu, and sesame oil. Taste and add salt and soy sauce if needed.

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My first time eating natto!

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.

natto

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.

natto package

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…

yoshie opens the natto

Hold me, I’m scared.

opening natto part 2

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.

Here goes…

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Yeah, it’s definitely stinky and gooey/slimy.

Eating natto

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.

natto up close with wasabi and soy sauce mixed in

Then Yoshie made me some sushi rice and nori wraps for the natto, which was really good.

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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!

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