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This pungent fermented soybean attack on the senses is loathed by most foreigners and plenty of Japanese(somewhere around 30% and way more in Kansai for example) as well but don’t be swayed by its horrendous odour before you at least give it a try!
Its most commonly eaten at breakfast time with rice/green onion and sometimes consumed straight out of the conveniently portioned pack with accompanying Japanese mustard and dashi.
I propose that for your first natto tasting you get yourself a nice bottle of shochu, anything will do although mugi shall be grand, and some togarashi. Its probably in your best interest to enjoy some shochu on the rocks before you take the plunge and let me tell you this is an experience you won’t forget. Before i came to Japan i heard from fellow cooks all of the lore drenched anecdotes on fugu (toxic puffer fish) and what an experience it must be and yes fugu is a sublime fish in a very understated and detailed nature but natto, this delivers an impact that is paralleled by nothing I’ve eaten here which is why you must try it even if its just once. Sprinkle some togarashi on the darlings, do the aroma wave to get in the spirit, take a sip and dive in!

You’ll notice yourself moving your chopsticks around as it is very stringy then make way for an exercise in the joys of fermentation, a window into history and all that is joyous of humanity with complex aromas and infinite taste molecules exploding with gyrating incomprehensible crescendos of intense flavour.
I hope you enjoy it but if not at least you can be content that you did something positive for your health as it is jam-packed with protein, vitamin C,K2, B6,B2, and a slew of important minerals.

Author: jason toner