納豆(なっとう)【Natto (fermented soybeans)】

Soybeans have been of vital importance as a major source of protein for Japanese people. In Japan soybeans have been processed into a variety of foods including miso (fermented soybean paste), soy sauce, and tofu (soybean curd). Natto is also an important soybean food and is superior in some respects. It is both abundant in vitamin B2 and is also easy to be digested and absorbed since its protein has been separated.

大豆は日本人の重要なタンパク源で、味噌(みそ)・醤油(しょうゆ)・豆腐(とうふ)など多くの大豆加工食品があります。納豆もまた大豆を用いた重要な食品で、ビタミンB2を豊富に含み、また大豆のタンパク質が分解されているため、消化吸収が容易な点で優れています。

Natto is made by fermenting steamed soybeans using natto bacilli.Soybeans were formerly wrapped in straw as natural natto bacilli adhere to it and fermentation will take place. Since natto is a fermented food it has its own strong smell and stickiness. Therefore, even in Japan there are many people who do not like to eat it. Natto seems to be preferred regionally in the eastern part of Japan rather than in the western part.

納豆は、蒸した大豆にナットウ菌を加え、発酵させて作ります。以前は、藁(わら)に大豆を包み、藁に付いている天然のナットウ菌を利用して納豆を作っていました。発酵食品であるため、特有の臭みと粘りがあり、日本人でも納豆を好まない人が多くいます。地域的には、西日本よりも東日本でよく食べられています。

Mito, located in Ibaraki Prefecture, is well-known for producing quality natto.

茨城県の水戸は、質の良い納豆の産地として知られています。

There are various ways to eat natto. Generally, however, it is seasoned with soy sauce, negi (green onions), chopped fine, and mustard.Stirring it up with chopsticks makes you able to enjoy the flavor. If it is eaten with hot rice, it will become even tastier.

色々な納豆の食べ方がありますが、醤油をかけて刻んだねぎとからしを加えて混ぜ合わせ、温かい御飯と一緒に食べるのが一般的です。

In addition, natto-jiru such as miso soup with minced natto is one of the most popular dishes using natto. In recent years, natto has been recognized to be of high nutritive value and various recipes have been created. Natto is now used as an ingredient in rolled sushi, a long rice roll that is wrapped with a sheet of toasted seaweed, and also as a sauce to dress vegetables and seafood.

この他に、納豆を刻んで味噌汁に入れた納豆汁もよく作られます。近年では、納豆の栄養価が高いことが認められ、色々な調理法が工夫されています。巻きずし(すし飯を海苔で細長く巻いたもの)の具として、また和え物のドレッシングとして利用されています。

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