Japanese Cuisine: What Does Natto Taste Like?

Japan is the home for many strange things, and when it comes to cuisine, there is no exception. Japan is indeed the home for some of the strangest food in the world. Ranging from Fish eyeballs to craving eel. There is one food that will actually bring you pleasant and putrid at the same time, that is natto (なっとう). So what is natto? What does natto taste like? Let’s find out the answers in this blog now!

What Is Natto?

In short, Natto is fermented soybeans. First, the soybeans are brought to fermentation by a bacteria called Bacillus subtilis and then aged for about a week. In the fermentation process, the carbohydrates turn into alcohol or acid. There are two types of soybeans – the small ones and the large ones. The larger the beans, the less sticky they are, making them the best type for beginners. Additionally, there is “hikiwari”, in this case, natto is made from soybeans that were crushed before the fermentation process. This creates more surface area for the bacterias to grab onto, making this natto the stickiest and strongest taste of them all.

what does natto taste like

Natto is made from fermented soybeans.

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What Does Natto Taste Like?

This might be the most popular question that comes to mind when you want to try out natto. So what does natto taste like? It is hard to put natto’s taste in words, some people said it tastes like plunge, some people said natto taste like old cheese. The taste of natto varies depending on how you consume it. But in general, Natto’s taste is really good.

Like all other fermented foods and drinks, Natto’s taste might not be pleasant at first but the more you try, the more you like it. Natto has a very unique smell, taste and texture. It has a strong pungent smell like old cheese, the more smelly the better its taste. Along with the smell, Natto is sticky and has a gooey texture. The flavor of Natto is fairly mild, its taste is reminiscent of bleu cheese, a slightly sweeter than boiled soybean with a little bit of bitter.

If you are expecting a surprising flavor, you might be disappointed in Natto as Japanese cuisine emphasizes contrasting textures much more than aggressive flavors. Therefore, the taste of natto depends mostly on how you eat it.

Let’s see what foreigners said about natto in the video below:

How To Eat Natto?

In Japan, Natto is normally served as a topping to rice with some vegetables and mustard. But there are lots of ways to enjoy Natto, anything can be good as long as you like it. You can it eat with some scallions or wheat, even Kimchi and Natto is a good combination. If you are looking for strong flavor, Okra enhances the flavor of Natto pretty well. And as a recommendation for first-timers, you can try eating natto with rice and Kara-age (Japanese style fried chicken).

how to eat natto

Natto tastes like old cheese or plunge.

If Natto’s smell is your problem, you can try to add a spoon of sesame oil, which make a wonderful aroma. Also, if you are not into slimy and sticky things, mix the natto less before adding condiments, it would lessen the stickiness.

In Conclusion

The answer to “What does natto taste like?” is one of a kind and if you are adventurous enough to try unusual food, Natto is the dish for you. It’s quite cheap and can easily be found on the market. So you can try out many different combinations as you like and find out what suited best for you.

If you do try, tell us What does your natto taste like!

About Haruto Suzuki

Haruto Suzuki is a senior food and drinks blogger at Question Japan. He has a background in F&B industry and also experience of running his own Japanese restaurant in Tokyo for over 10 years. Therefore, he has a great knowledge of Japanese cuisine. So if you want to discover Japan through its unique traditional cuisine, Haruto Suzuki’s blog will be a great source of information for you.

One Response

  1. Ngoc Anh says:

    I wanna try it nowww