When it comes to natto, there are two camps: the lovers and the haters. They say you’re not truly Japanese unless you enjoy eating this stuff, but most Kansai people don’t like it. I grew up with natto because my family strongly believes in its health benefits. My grandmother says it makes your blood sara sara—meaning it thins your blood and reduces clotting.

People who hate natto will tell you it’s the smell or the neba neba (sticky, slimy) texture. The texture is not unusual in Japanese food. Yama imo (Japanese mountain yam), sato imo (taro yam), and okra all have that neba neba-ness. But I understand some find the thought/smell/sight of it offensive, so for the tentative eater, I recommend ordering natto maki the next time you’re out for sushi. The beans are usually chopped fine and since it’s a roll, the smell is unnoticeable.

natto_rice1Recently, I tried a great natto brand—instead of the usual dashi and karashi (hot mustard) packets, this natto came with shiso nori sauce. The nori was a perfect pairing to the distinctively fragrant shiso. And that ganko oyaji on the package—cute. If you have access to a Japanese grocery store and you love natto, this one’s not to be missed!


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  1. akibo
    Posted June 11, 2009 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Yum! Natto!

  2. Posted June 27, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Mmm. I love nattou although it took eating it with tuna for me to get used to the texture. I think it smells like coffee, and now I love it. Shiso is one of my favorite flavors so I’ll have to look for this next time I’m at a Japanese grocery.

  3. Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I’ve heard of mixing in green onions, sauteed daikon leaves, egg yolk… but tuna—that sounds really interesting. I’m wondering raw tuna or cooked tuna…?

  4. Posted July 7, 2009 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    It was raw, cut into small cubes. It was really a nice contrast. Here’s a picture; we ate it at a Japanese restaurant in Chicago called Katsu.

  5. Posted July 10, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Jennie, thanks for the picture link! Looks so good… I’ll have to try this.

  6. Posted August 30, 2010 at 3:58 am | Permalink

    One of my favorite dishes! Daisuke!

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