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Natto

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Frank Deis

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Natto

by Frank Deis » Tue May 07, 2013 10:19 pm

As a result of an online "dare" of sorts -- I hang around on Japanese oriented websies -- I have to try Natto.

Natto is notoriously a bit stinky, but so are some cheeses I like.

Does anyone have suggestions for appreciating Natto? Are there tricks to make it taste good?
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Jeff Grossman/NYC

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Re: Natto

by Jeff Grossman/NYC » Tue May 07, 2013 10:37 pm

A friend of mine, who travels a lot and who likes ethnic food, once found himself at a Japanese restaurant. He ordered natto. An old man sitting near him, was watching him and eventually came over to talk. He said, "We eat it because it is traditional. Why are you eating it?"
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Frank Deis

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Re: Natto

by Frank Deis » Tue May 07, 2013 10:42 pm

I don't exactly have a choice at this point. Hoping that my weird tastes will bring me thru

:mrgreen:
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Mike Filigenzi

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Re: Natto

by Mike Filigenzi » Wed May 08, 2013 12:38 am

I will be very much looking forward to hearing about how this goes, Frank! You're in the kind of position I might find myself in one of these days.
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Frank Deis

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Re: Natto

by Frank Deis » Wed May 08, 2013 3:49 am

I wonder if I can find it -- there is a Japanese video in which some "famous comedian" gives Japanese children their first taste of Natto and interviews them to see how they like it. They are all kind of "WTF???" which is probably pretty funny.

At any rate you could probably do something similar with French children and a famous stinky cheese...
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Barb Downunder

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Re: Natto

by Barb Downunder » Wed May 08, 2013 3:55 am

Frank, there were one or two episodes of Iron Chef (the Japanese) version where natto was the theme ingredient, maybe the episodes are available somewhere on the www.
If I can find the DVD I will have a look and see if there are any preps that look okay ( it does not look like the worlds yummiest ingredient LOL)
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Rahsaan

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Re: Natto

by Rahsaan » Wed May 08, 2013 11:14 am

Jeff Grossman/NYC wrote:"We eat it because it is traditional. Why are you eating it?"


Great quote. When living in Japan it was always interesting to see the foreigners who were more aggressive about eating natto and would find all sorts of complicated justifications for why it was worth eating. But it could never just be 'delicious'.
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Mark Lipton

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Re: Natto

by Mark Lipton » Wed May 08, 2013 12:36 pm

Frank Deis wrote:As a result of an online "dare" of sorts -- I hang around on Japanese oriented websies -- I have to try Natto.

Natto is notoriously a bit stinky, but so are some cheeses I like.

Does anyone have suggestions for appreciating Natto? Are there tricks to make it taste good?


Tasting good may or may not be within its capabilities, Frank, but the way I was taught to eat it by my Japanese roommate in grad school was to put it on a bowl of steamed rice, mix it in well and eat the whole thing. In that form, it kind of reminds me of raw egg and rice, a guilty pleasure of mine.

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Paul Winalski

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Re: Natto

by Paul Winalski » Wed May 08, 2013 8:42 pm

Natto is clearly a prime example of desperation food: "Oh, crap! All the soybeans have gone moldy, the crops have failed, and it's either eat the moldy soybeans or starve to death."

Ditto for the large escargot snails in Burgundy (I've observed wild escargot on my visits there). Nobody would consider eating them except in a do-or-die situation.

And especially ditto with Epoisses and related stinky cheeses. These are clearly cases where the cheese-aging process went wrong, but the people involved were too desperate for food to throw the spoiled goods away.

The first human consumption of oysters had to be a similar dire circumstance. In the case of raw oysters, they were out of cooking fuel as well.

Add sea cucumbers to that list.

One common thread in all of these disgusting eat-or-die foods is that later on they said, "Gee, we didn't die. We'll have to classify this as a 'delicacy'." :twisted:

Mal appetit,

-Paul W.
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Ken Schechet

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Re: Natto

by Ken Schechet » Fri May 10, 2013 10:59 pm

I once tried natto in Japan, pretty much on a dare. It was for breakfast which, I gather, is when it is most popular. It was just dumped on top of some rice. You then stir it into the rice and it becomes stringy. At best it is an acquired taste, and I haven't acquired it yet. I can't imagine what you can do with this stuff to make it better. But I do remember the Iron Chef episodes where they attempted to make it edible. Not sure they succeeded then either.
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Frank Deis

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Re: Natto

by Frank Deis » Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:44 pm

I bought a little double pack of natto months ago at H Mart and never worked up the nerve to try it. Then my son brought his good friend for a visit -- this friend went to school with Tom and he's Japanese. I jokingly suggested we could eat the natto for breakfast and he was enthusiastic, said he really likes the stuff. So I got up early and made a batch of good koshihikari rice with kombu tucked into it, in my Japanese rice maker, and then attempted to make onsen tamago. The recipe I found online had the clever trick of stirring in a tablespoon of potato starch into the water heating the eggs, the idea being that a lack of convection in the water would allow the eggs to draw heat from the adjacent water but not from the entire pan of water. Tom complained that the eggs were "too raw" but Yohei liked his pretty well and also the rice and natto and some avocado I provided. I had to rush off to a meeting yesterday morning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzuwiZLIAKY

This morning I had my own bowl of natto -- I made a 5 minute egg, which has a runny yolk but the white is more cooked than in an onsen tamago. The natto surprised me, individual brown beans (not a paste) glued together with some icky fermentation and smelling rather weird. In the package there was a teensy square packet of yellow mustard and a slightly larger packet of flavored vinegar. I used both and then topped with the egg and stirred together. It did taste healthy and I could imagine eating it again.

natto.jpg
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Re: Natto

by Rahsaan » Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:04 pm

It looks ok. The worst part about natto from what I can remember were the strands of slime oozing out of each bean. But I don't see that in your photo!
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Re: Natto

by Frank Deis » Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:07 pm

Oh, Rahsaan, the slimy strands were there!!! :D
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alex metags

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Re: Natto

by alex metags » Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:23 am

I like natto and ate it often while living in Japan. Cheap and easy, just be sure to stir the mustard, shoyu and fermented beans vigorously till it's frothy and gooey, before you put it on rice. Can add raw egg and spring onions but I'm usually don't bother. The Asian supermarkets here in the Bay Area all seem to carry it - Chinese and Korean supermarkets too, not just the Japanese ones - so there must be a demand.

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