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