What Does Natto Taste Like? A Comprehensive Guide to Natto’s Flavor Profile

I recently tried natto for the first time and was immediately struck by its unique taste and texture. Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans that has a sticky, gooey texture, umami taste, and a strong smell.

It’s certainly an acquired taste for North Americans, but it’s a popular breakfast food in Japan and has numerous health benefits.

Natto has a distinctive taste that has been described as salty, earthy, and pungent. Some people compare it to blue cheese, while others say it tastes like old Brie or foie gras. The flavor may vary depending on the batch and fermentation process.

Along with its distinctive taste, natto also has a sticky and slimy texture that can be off-putting to some. However, the health benefits of natto make it worth trying at least once.

Key Takeaways

  • Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans that has a unique taste and texture.
  • The taste of natto has been described as salty, earthy, and pungent, and it has a sticky and slimy texture.
  • Natto has numerous health benefits and is a popular breakfast food in Japan.

What is Natto

Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. It is a popular breakfast food in Japan, and it is often served over rice with soy sauce, mustard, and sometimes raw egg. The fermentation process of natto is achieved by adding a bacteria called Bacillus subtilis to the soybeans.

The fermentation process gives natto a sticky, gooey texture and a distinctive smell that can be off-putting to some. However, despite its strong smell, natto has a mild taste that is reminiscent of bleu cheese.

Japanese cuisine emphasizes contrasting textures much more than aggressive flavors, and natto is no exception.

Natto is a rich source of protein, and it is also high in vitamin K2, which is important for bone health. The fermentation process also creates enzymes that can help with digestion.

Because of these health benefits, natto is becoming more popular outside of Japan, and it can now be found in many health food stores around the world.

In Japan, natto is often eaten as a part of a traditional Japanese breakfast, which typically includes rice, miso soup, grilled fish, and pickled vegetables. Natto is also used as an ingredient in many other Japanese dishes, such as sushi rolls and okonomiyaki (a savory pancake).

Taste Profile of Natto

As someone who has tried natto, I can confidently say that it has a unique taste that is not for everyone. The flavor of natto is often described as strong, pungent, and slightly bitter. Some people find it to be an acquired taste, while others enjoy it from the first try.

One of the most distinct characteristics of natto is its pungent odor. The smell can be quite strong and off-putting to some people. However, the taste of natto is not as strong as its smell. It has a savory flavor, also known as umami, that is reminiscent of broth, meat, and some fish species.

Natto has a slightly nutty and earthy taste, which is a result of its fermentation process. The beans are fermented with a specific type of bacteria called Bacillus subtilis, which gives it its unique taste and texture. The texture of natto is slimy and sticky, which can be a turn off for some people.

Depending on how long it’s fermented, natto can have a lighter flavor or a very strong, bitter flavor. Some people describe the taste of natto as a mix of old brie cheese with coffee and onion. However, others find it to be mild and enjoyable.

Overall, the taste of natto is a matter of personal preference. Some people love it, while others can’t stand it. If you’re curious about trying natto, I recommend starting with a small amount to see if you like the taste.

Texture and Appearance

Natto has a unique texture that can be described as slimy, sticky, and stringy. It is made from fermented soybeans that are cooked and then left to ferment for several hours.

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During the fermentation process, the soybeans develop a gooey texture, which is what gives natto its signature slimy texture.

When you first open a package of natto, you will notice a strong smell that can be off-putting to some people. However, the smell is not indicative of the taste, and many people find that they enjoy the flavor of natto despite the initial smell.

The appearance of natto is also unique. The soybeans are covered in a sticky, stringy substance that can be a bit intimidating to those who have never tried it before.

However, once you get past the appearance and the smell, you will find that natto has a mild flavor that is slightly bitter and similar to aged cheese.

Overall, natto is a food that requires an open mind and a willingness to try new things. While the texture and appearance can be off-putting at first, many people find that they enjoy the flavor and the health benefits that come with eating natto.

How to Eat Natto

As someone who has tried natto before, I can say that it has a unique taste and texture that may take some getting used to. However, there are many ways to eat natto that can make it more enjoyable.

One popular way to eat natto is to mix it with rice. Simply cook some rice and mix in the natto. You can also add some chopped scallions, soy sauce, and even a raw egg to create a delicious and filling meal.

Another way to eat natto is to use it as a topping for sushi. Simply place a small amount of natto on top of a piece of sushi and enjoy. You can also mix natto with other ingredients, such as avocado, vegetables, or kimchi, to create a tasty and healthy snack.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try eating natto on its own. To do this, simply open the package and mix the natto thoroughly. Some people like to add a bit of karashi mustard or nori to enhance the flavor.

When eating natto, it’s important to use chopsticks to pick up the sticky and slimy beans. You can also try using okra or other vegetables to help scoop up the natto.

Overall, there are many ways to eat natto that can make it more enjoyable. Whether you’re mixing it with rice or trying it on its own, natto is a unique and healthy food that is worth trying at least once.

Health Benefits of Natto

As a Japanese superfood, natto is packed with various nutrients and health benefits. Here are some of the key benefits of natto consumption:

Rich in Vitamin K2

Natto is an excellent source of vitamin K2, a nutrient that plays a crucial role in bone health and cardiovascular health. Vitamin K2 helps to activate proteins that are involved in calcium metabolism, which helps to maintain healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis.

Additionally, vitamin K2 can help to reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing the buildup of calcium in the arteries.

High in Fiber

Natto is a great source of dietary fiber, which is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Fiber helps to promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation. Additionally, fiber can help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Contains Nattokinase

Natto contains a unique enzyme called nattokinase, which has been shown to have potent blood-thinning properties. This can help to improve blood flow and reduce the risk of blood clots, which can lead to stroke and heart attack.

Packed with Nutrients

Natto is a nutrient-dense food that is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of iron, potassium, and vitamin C, which are all essential for maintaining optimal health. Additionally, natto contains polyglutamic acid, which has been shown to have antioxidant properties.

Supports Gut Health

Natto is a natural source of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and help to maintain a healthy digestive system. Probiotics can help to improve the absorption of nutrients from food, boost the immune system, and reduce the risk of digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In summary, natto is a highly nutritious and beneficial food that can help to promote optimal health and prevent disease. With its unique combination of fiber, vitamin K2, nattokinase, and other essential nutrients, natto is a great addition to any healthy diet.

Storage and Preparation

When it comes to natto, proper storage and preparation are key to ensuring that you get the most out of this traditional Japanese food. Here are some tips on how to store and prepare natto:

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Storage

Natto can be found in most Asian markets, and it usually comes in small plastic containers. Once you’ve opened the container, it’s important to store the natto properly to prevent it from spoiling.

  • Market: If you plan on consuming the natto within a day or two, you can store it in the refrigerator.
  • Freeze: If you want to store the natto for a longer period of time, you can freeze it. Simply place the container in the freezer, and it should last for up to a few months.
  • Fridge: If you have already opened the container and have some leftover natto, you can store it in the fridge for up to a day or two.

Preparation

Preparing natto is relatively easy, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you get the best taste and texture.

  • Cooking: Some people prefer to heat up their natto before consuming it. To do this, simply place the natto in a small bowl and microwave it for 20-30 seconds.
  • Straw: Natto is traditionally eaten with rice, and many people like to add a little bit of soy sauce and mustard to the mix. To eat natto, simply use a pair of chopsticks to stir the natto until it becomes slimy and stringy. Then, use a straw to slurp up the natto and rice mixture.

By following these tips, you can enjoy natto at its best.

Natto in Japanese Cuisine

As a staple food in Japanese cuisine, natto has been enjoyed for centuries. It is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans that is often served as a breakfast dish. Natto is also used as an ingredient in many other Japanese dishes, such as miso soup and sushi rolls.

One of the most popular ways to eat natto is by mixing it with green onions and soy sauce, and then spooning it over a bowl of hot rice. This simple yet delicious dish is known as “natto gohan” and is a common breakfast food in Japan.

Natto’s unique flavor is often described as slightly sweet and bitter, with a texture that is sticky and slimy. It has a strong smell that can be off-putting to some, but many people enjoy its distinct taste.

Japanese cuisine emphasizes contrasting textures much more than aggressive flavors, so natto’s mild flavor fits perfectly into this culinary philosophy.

Natto is also often used as an ingredient in miso soup, a traditional Japanese soup made with miso paste, dashi broth, and various ingredients such as tofu, seaweed, and green onions. Adding natto to miso soup can give it a boost of protein and a unique flavor.

In addition to being a delicious and nutritious food, natto is also a popular ingredient in sushi rolls. It is often paired with other ingredients such as avocado, cucumber, and salmon to create a flavorful and healthy sushi roll.

Overall, natto is a versatile and delicious ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Its unique taste and texture make it a popular choice for breakfast, soup, and sushi. If you’re looking to try something new and exciting, give natto a try!

Trying Natto for the First Time

As a food enthusiast, I had always been curious about natto, a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans. However, I was a bit hesitant to try it due to its reputation for having a pungent odor and slimy texture.

But one day, I decided to take the plunge and try it for myself. I bought a pack of natto from a local Asian grocery store and prepared it according to the instructions on the package.

When I opened the package, I was hit with a strong aroma that was a mix of earthy, nutty, and slightly sour notes. It was definitely a unique smell that I had never experienced before.

I scooped a spoonful of the sticky, stringy natto onto a bowl of steaming hot rice and mixed it together. The texture was slimy and gooey, which was a bit strange at first, but I quickly got used to it.

As for the taste, I was pleasantly surprised. The flavor was savory and slightly nutty, with a hint of sweetness. It had a unique umami taste that was different from anything I had ever tasted before.

Overall, trying natto for the first time was a memorable experience. While the aroma and texture might take some getting used to, the taste was definitely worth it. If you’re curious about natto, I recommend giving it a try and experimenting with different serving and recipe ideas to find what works best for you.

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Nutritional Content of Natto

As a fermented soybean dish, natto is a rich source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It is a great addition to a healthy diet and can be consumed in various ways, such as with rice, vegetables, or as a topping for sushi.

Here are some of the key nutritional components of natto:

  • Calories: A serving of natto typically contains around 211 calories. This makes it a great food for those who are looking to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight.
  • Sugar: Natto contains a small amount of naturally-occurring sugar, which provides around 6 grams per serving. This makes it a great food for those who are looking to reduce their sugar intake.
  • Carbohydrates: Natto is a good source of carbohydrates, providing around 13 grams per serving. These carbohydrates are complex and provide a sustained source of energy, making natto a great food for those who are looking to maintain their energy levels throughout the day.
  • Protein: Natto is a great source of protein, providing around 19 grams per serving. This makes it a great food for those who are looking to build or maintain muscle mass.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Natto is also a great source of vitamins and minerals, including manganese, iron, copper, and vitamin K. These nutrients are essential for maintaining good health and can help to prevent a range of diseases and health conditions.

Overall, natto is a highly nutritious food that can provide a range of health benefits. Whether you are looking to maintain a healthy weight, build muscle mass, or simply improve your overall health, natto is a great food to include in your diet.

Natto and Other Foods

As someone who has tried natto, I can say that it is definitely an acquired taste. The fermented soybeans have a unique flavor that is difficult to describe.

Some say it tastes like a combination of bonfire smoke, skunk, nail polish, and fish food flakes. However, others describe it as having a savory, umami flavor with earthy, nutty, and slightly yeasty notes.

If you enjoy strong, pungent flavors, you may find natto to be a delicious addition to your meals. However, if you prefer milder flavors, you may want to avoid it. Similarly, if you are a fan of aged cheese, you may appreciate the distinct flavor of natto.

When it comes to serving natto, there are a few different ways to enjoy it. The traditional way is to mix it with soy sauce and mustard, and then serve it on top of rice. Some people also like to add toppings such as green onions, shiso leaves, or grated daikon radish.

Overall, natto is a unique and interesting food that is worth trying at least once. While it may not be for everyone, it is a popular dish in Japan and has many health benefits, including aiding digestion and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find natto near me?

Natto is a traditional Japanese dish that is becoming more widely available in specialty grocery stores and Asian markets. You can also find it online through various retailers.

Check your local Japanese restaurants to see if they serve natto or have it available for purchase.

Why does natto smell so bad?

Natto has a distinctive odor that is often described as pungent or even foul. The smell comes from the fermentation process, which creates a compound called ammonia. While the smell can be off-putting to some, others find it to be a pleasant and even appetizing aroma.

Is natto an acquired taste?

Yes, natto is considered an acquired taste due to its unique texture and flavor. Some people may find it too slimy or bitter, while others enjoy its nutty and earthy taste. If you are new to natto, it may take a few tries to appreciate its flavor and texture.

How can I make natto taste good?

Natto is often served with soy sauce, mustard, and green onions to enhance its flavor. You can also mix it with rice or use it as a topping for sushi rolls.

Some people enjoy adding natto to miso soup or stir-fry dishes. Experiment with different seasonings and recipes to find a combination that works for you.

What does natto look like?

Natto is made from soybeans that have been fermented with a type of bacteria called Bacillus subtilis. The fermentation process creates a sticky, slimy texture and a brownish color. When you open a package of natto, you will see small beans that are coated in a sticky, stringy substance.

Does natto taste fishy?

While some people describe natto as having a fishy taste, it is not made from fish and does not contain any seafood ingredients. The nutty and earthy flavor of natto comes from the soybeans and the fermentation process.