Updated: Sep 28, 2021
Just like marmite in the UK, natto is a food that divides opinions in Japan - you either love it or you hate it. So what exactly is natto? Basically, natto is made of soya beans fermented using natto yeast (bacillus subtilis) which I understand comes from rice straw. Natto is well known for its health benefits - if you want to find out more about this, you can find find lots of information on the internet - (personally, I make natto and I eat natto because I like it but it's nice to know it's doing your body good as well!) Natto's flavour matures after it's fermented. You can keep it for two weeks in the fridge and the flvaour will keep on improving. You can also freeze natto which means you can make a big batch and divide it into eat now and keep for later portions. Although most Japanese eat natto with a bowl of rice, there are other ways you can use it like Natton Linguine and Natto Maki sushi rolls. I'll be putting some other recipes on the blog in the coming weeks. But first, you have to have some natto. Of course, you can buy it but why not try to make your natto instead? It isn't really that difficult - it's a bit like yoghurt, it's easy to do but you have to wait for the result. If you're interested in making natto, the first thing you will need is some natto yeast (or natto spores as you'll also find them described on the internet). Alternatively, you could buy a pack of ready made natto and use that as your activator although I have to confess I always use natto yeast as a starter.
Next, you'll need some raw soya beans - you can buy these at most supermarkets or online. For the fermentation stage of making natto, I use my oven, which has a low temperature setting down to 30C. If you can't use your oven, I've heard of people using breadmakers or slow cookers - the key is to keep the soya beans at 38-40C for 20+ hours. You can find a written recipe by clicking Make your own Natto.
The Youtube video tutorial is here on the right, above.
I do hope you'll try this out - I know there are a lot of gimmicky features and videos showing people grimacing when they try natto but if you like rich, savoury flavours like blue cheese and marmite, you may well think natto is great too.
Happy fermenting! Kurumi XXXX.