Yoshizen's Blog

Nattou (納豆) = Japanese food, others dread !


(Photo left ;  Nattou I found in a Japanese food shop = £1.5 for 3~4 packages. 

It comes with light colored soy-source and mustard. 

Photo right ; Mixed all together with added spring onion = just in a minute, it’s ready to eat  )

You know, Nattou is the most popular food in Japan —– still, so far, I never seen

any westerner ever eat,  let alone liked it.  😀

Nattou is a fermented soy-bean.  To make it, soy-bean was just boiled and placed between a

straw-mat and kept overnight, that’s all, nothing else.   No trick, no additive, even no need to put

yeast kind of bacteria = in fact, the bacteria  [Bactillus Subtilis var. natto] naturally comes from the

straw or any kind of dried grass hence fermentation will be naturally taking place.

( —– though, today the production was automatized in the factory where no straw

in sight = using cultivated pure bacteria instead, still some enthusiast making it

in traditional way   )


In nature, bacteria are everywhere, include inside of our body and some are doing pretty good

job helping digestion etc, but others are not necessary so, and cause illness.

Some are working to decompose the milk to make it a cheese, or to make a wine etc etc =

as long as it works useful to us, it is called fermentation otherwise called rotten.

So, fermented soy-bean is = to Japanese, it is a great fermentation but to rest of

the world, it is nothing but rotten. 😀

Rotten, because it smells like rotten and the bean became covered with sticky slime.

(In the same context, many of cheese here smells nothing but awfully rotten to the Japanese)


To eat Nattou, Japanese are mixing it with soy-source, generally with mustard

and finely chopped spring onion — some people even prefer to add raw egg-yolk

to make it more slimy. (how delicious !  😀 )

As the protein of soy-bean has been decomposed by the bacteria, it is much more digestible and

nutritional value is much higher than just boiled soy-bean. = Hence, Nattou is an indispensable

part of healthier Japanese food life.

And an interesting point is, as Japanese are familiar with slimy Nattou, they also

eat many slimy food such as Okra, name but few.

—– You may not think,  Okra is slimy food because you eat them boiled.

But, Japanese eat it raw by cutting it into thin slices and mixed with dried fish flaks and drip of

soy-source = if you cut, you will notice, it got slimy mucilage =this texture is what

Japanese are after.   ( I’ll write about this kind of cooking more on a coming post 🙂


Incidentally, Okra is a sister of Hollyhock or Marshmallow, and a cousin of

Hibiscus = all in the same Malvaceae family hence if you clash those plant between your

fingers you will feel it has slimy texture inside = using this slimy mucilage property,

a soft sweets  [Marshmallow] was originally created, as its name suggests.

(But today’s Marshmallow is an almost artificial sponge made by substitute) 

And using its slimy substance as a fiber-bonding glue, Malveceae plants has been used for the

paper making —– you believe or not 🙂 )   As a matter of fact, lots of food such as cheap

Ice-cream couldn’t keep its soft creamy texture without having those slimy additives.  

So, you may read a name of  Zantan-gum on a food packages, it’s a slime created

by the rotten Cabbage ! —– horrified ?  — Or you accept your unavoidable fate,

and start eating Nattou ? 😀


—– thanks to its pure vegetarian contents, Nattou is very popular in the

Buddhist’s temple menu hence if any westerner had a chance to stay in a temple

= it would be a real dread as well, to face Nattou.  😀

But, I know, to get know to eat Nattou would be rewarded by really healthy life.

To open your mind (and the Mouth), it is the Zen —– ? —– really ?

Yah, —– may be. —- Ha ha ha 😀




8 Responses

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  1. Lemony (Gr)Egghead said, on January 12, 2013 at 02:08

    You’re cracking me up! 😀

    • yoshizen said, on January 12, 2013 at 02:30

      Ha ha ha ! Thank you Lemony.
      (So, are you going to try ? 🙂 )

      • Lemony (Gr)Egghead said, on January 12, 2013 at 02:31

        Well, actually, I’ve always wanted to try it. So, when the opportunity arises, I’ll go for it! 🙂

        • yoshizen said, on January 12, 2013 at 03:22

          Excellent !
          When you did, please comeback this post to put another comment.
          ( I mean honest opinion 😀 )

  2. bentehaarstad said, on January 12, 2013 at 13:11

    Traditions in food are so very interesting. I don’t know nattou so don’t know if I would like it, but I would definitely try if it was around. Have a good, zen day, Yoshizen.

    • yoshizen said, on January 12, 2013 at 14:42

      Thank you Bente.
      If you appreciate strong tasted cheese, I’m sure
      you can eat Nattou, provided if you were not completely put-off by its slimy texture.
      I think, instead to looking for to buy it, it must be much
      easier to make it by yourself.
      * Find a bunch of straw and boil them once.
      (the Nattou bacteria is strangely heat resistant and
      only them survive.
      * Then put boiled soy-bean between
      the straw and keep them warm, over-night or a day.
      * Here, you get Nattou.
      Have a good try. 🙂

  3. elenacaravela said, on January 12, 2013 at 19:53

    An acquired taste, Im sure.

    • yoshizen said, on January 12, 2013 at 22:14

      Thank you Elena.
      Like eating rice, as it is so common, child start to eat it even before the memory start, I never met anybody who doesn’t like Nattou among the Japanese.
      My memory starts when I was two years old but unlike other food I don’t remember when I eat Nattou in the first time 🙂

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