In our never-ending quest to try all that Japan has to offer, I present to you… natto.
It’s been sitting in our fridge for a week while I’ve tried to figure out what to do with it. I thought I’d start out easy and use it as a filling in gyoza. Technically, natto is a soybean that has been fermented with hay or grass bacteria. However, I’m quite certain based on its quantity of ectoplasm, that it has some relation to this guy.
As usual, I wish I’d taken more pictures of the unboxing process as the packaging itself was impressive. Sealed in a styrofoam box, I feared the worst. Natto has a reputation of being stinky and slimy. As I opened the box, I took a good whiff. The smell didn’t bother me at all. We’re greeted with a small packet of hot mustard and another small packet, which the internets tell me contains a fish-based sauce, so I tossed that.
Then the natto.
It’s covered with a layer of wax paper, which when peeled away reveals the true nature of the beast.
Apologies for the close-up. It seemed necessary.
I tried it by itself first. Not an overwhelming flavor, but certainly not anything I’d want to eat plain. It has a maple-esque flavor as an aftertaste, which might be why it’s a popular breakfast food in Japan, spread on toast or rice. After mixing it with the hot mustard and some soy sauce, it was actually kinda good.
Then I touched it.
Slimy indeed. I tried to use a spoon to fill the gyoza wrapper, but the natto stuck to it. So, I’d take a pinch with my fingers and stuff it in the wrapper. I looked like a first grader elbow-deep in rubber cement (do they still let kids use rubber cement?) as the sticky strings connected my fingers to the beans for a good 12 inches. When I washed my hands, the water mixed with the sticky made a slime that required a lot of washing and a strong stomach.
It came in a three-pack, and I’m not disappointed. Natto spaghetti is also very popular and I found another recipe for natto veggie burgers. Can’t wait to give ’em a go!
Update: So, after eating the natto gyoza, I’ve had a change of heart. There’s something just… off about it. Not sure I’m quite ready to be a fan of natto quite yet.