November 18, 2023

What Does Natto Taste Like?

Despite its overwhelming aroma and gooey texture, many who taste natto grow to love it. It’s a great source of probiotics, antioxidants and is packed with iron, manganese, copper and magnesium.

Traditionally made from soybeans that are soaked, steamed and then inoculated with bacteria known as Bacillus subtilis, the food is fermented for up to 24 hours. This fermentation process is what gives natto its deeply earthy flavor, pungent smell and sticky, stringy texture.

You can find natto in Japanese and Asian grocery stores, typically stocked near the tofu. It also comes with seasoning packets. Look for natto that is labeled as low-odor to minimize the strong odor.

The flavor of natto is unique and complex, ranging from nutty to musty to bitter. It can be compared to the flavor of aged cheese. It has a rich umami (savory) flavor that adds to the flavors of other foods when mixed with them.

It can be eaten on its own, but is most commonly served as a side dish to other Japanese meals. The most popular natto dish is natto over rice with a raw egg on top. This savory breakfast is known as tamago kake gohan in Japan.

It may be an acquired taste, but those who love it are often obsessed. It can be used in salads, soups and as a base for sauces. The nutty flavor complements other ingredients well, including vegetables, meat and seafood. It can even be used as an ingredient in desserts!


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