three ways to eat natto

Lynn Shibuya
April 17, 2024

For some, natto is a delicious staple. For others, it’s slimy, mysterious, and potentially off-putting. There’s usually no middle ground. 

Natto is made of fermented soybeans. It’s thought to have originated in Japan nearly a thousand years ago. Natto even made an appearance in a newly released television show based on a novel that takes place in Japan in 1600. Are you tuning into that show, too? Here's what to know about natto.

Food facts   
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, natto contains 19.4 grams of protein in a 100-gram serving. In contrast, kidney beans contain 7.8 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. 

Natto is a source of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), such as manganese and iron. 

Manganese helps the body break down carbohydrates, proteins, and cholesterol. Iron supports metabolism, immunity, and helps to transport oxygen to the body’s tissue and muscles. Natto is also one of the top food sources of vitamin K, which plays a role in blood clotting and bone health. 

How it’s made
Natto is made by washing, soaking, steaming, and adding a probiotic strain to the soybeans. The soybeans are then packaged and fermented for about 18 hours. Get an inside look at natto production in a Japanese factory.

How to eat it
There are many ways to enjoy natto. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • On rice. Add the shoyu and/or mustard packet that comes with store-bought natto, mix together, and add the natto mixture on a hot bed of rice. It can also be enjoyed with green onions, an egg prepared your favorite way, and with a drizzle of sesame oil. If you know, you know. 

  • On toast. Take two slices of bread, toast them, add your natto mixture, top with Monterey jack cheese, broil to finish. Read more about this method.

  • On pasta. Prepare and drain spaghetti or preferred pasta, add a tablespoon of butter and shoyu to taste (or butter, miso, and a splash of half and half), add natto, top with chives. 

Did you know?
Natto Day is celebrated on July 10, which falls on a Wednesday this year. “Na” is an abbreviation for nana in Japanese, which means seven, and “tou” is one of the ways the number 10 can be read in Japanese. Hawaii restaurants may offer natto specials on July 10. 

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