The Infamous Superfood
Don't judge a book by its cover, seriously.
The following food is regarded as the smelly equivalent of rotten cheese.
The taste draws comparisons to cottage cheese and, again, rotten cheese.
The slimy, sticky texture draws a close similarity to melted caramel.
If you guessed something found in a sewer of a significant city, honestly, you're probably right in that regard. However, unlike things found in a sewer, what I've just described is something that I believe could become the food of the future.
Natto is hated by many. A popular food with its origins traced back to Japan, natto is simply fermented soybeans. Consumed in Japan by the hundreds of thousands, reception is shown to be the opposite once you step outside of the island nation. Either being driven away by the slimy, sticky residue or the foul-smelling odor and taste, many internationals steer clear of this food as if it's a biohazard. I'm here to support the consumption of natto and help people understand how such a devilish-looking cuisine can provide a myriad of benefits that may outweigh the cons.
Where to find Natto:
In Japan, Natto can be found almost anywhere; however, if you reside in the states or anywhere else globally, you may need to check out the freezer section of Asian supermarkets. Surprisingly, natto is incredibly inexpensive, costing nearly $2-$3 per pack of three. After all, something that is solely fermented soybeans can't go for a fortune.
How to Prepare Natto:
Preparing the natto, in my opinion, is the most fun part of preparation. After adding the sauces provided in the packaging, take your two chopsticks and mix. Mix until your heart's content as you notice the slimy, sticky substance begin to inherit a hue resembling the sauces. The more you mix and whip the natto back and forth, the more air you'll be introducing to the dish, resulting in a fluffy, foamy texture.
Newcomers in the world of natto primarily eat the infamous cuisine straight out of the package. Unknown to most, there's a variety of ways to enjoy natto. Spreading it onto toast for breakfast, enjoying it inside a sushi roll, or simply on top of rice with egg. I feel like you should experiment with different methods. Personally, I enjoy natto on top of white rice alongside the added Karashi mustard, and tare sauce provided, and a bit of soy sauce and sprinkled sesame seeds. The simplicity of eating nato is one of its many charms.
My First Natto Experience:
Reminiscing on my first time trying natto, I didn't love it or hate it. Being used to various cuisines at home, I had a pretty neutral standpoint regarding the infamous lore of natto. In addition, I was no stranger to "bizarre foods," so I welcomed it with open arms. First off, the smell wasn't as bad as people described. For the most part, the scent wasn't putrid nor foul, maybe a bit salty. Second, the taste wasn't bad, resembling wet peanuts, which I don't exactly mind. Now the most controversial topic is the texture. People complain about the slimy, sticky texture drawing comparison to eating one's vomit. I, for one, however, found a certain charm in the infamous texture. It's so unique, and instead of following the crowd and dismissing it, I enjoyed this "breath of fresh air."
Health Benefits of Natto:
I eat natto every day for breakfast, and you must be wondering, "Why would he put himself through that? It doesn't make sense." My reasoning is natto's very exceptionally nutritious and good for the body. If you flip over the packaging of your natto, you'll be surprised just one package contains at least 9 grams of protein and is a good source of dietary fiber. Suppose you're still not sold. However, going into deeper detail, natto provides a cornucopia of vitamins and minerals, all aiding in your body's function and being one of, if not the richest source of K2, a vitamin that plays a pivotal role in heart health, blood clotting, and bone health. During the fermentation process of the soybeans, numerous amounts of probiotics and beneficial bacteria emerge. Talking about probiotics is for another time, but they have so many benefits, such as aiding digestion.
Is natto my favorite food? Despite my answer being no, I understand how valuable it can be to my overall health. As mentioned at the beginning of my natto rant, I believe natto could become the food of the future. Natto is very inexpensive, sustainable to eat, and offers insurmountable nutritional value. If people get over the smell, taste, and appearance of natto, I believe people would be better off incorporating this odd cuisine into their diets. They would not only be helping themselves, but they would also be helping the environment. So next time you find yourself inside an Asian supermarket, head over to the freezer section, and give natto a try!