There's nothing quite like opening that white styrofoam container and peeling off that plastic film that separates you and your chopsticks from the sticky, slimy goodness of natto. Perhaps you have your own special techniques of getting past those stringy webs of fermentation, but I personally make circular swirling motions in the air with my chopsticks as if I am about to cast some sort of magical spell...and indeed, it is something quite magical.
For all the natto lovers of the world, this post is dedicated to you. Here is a compilation of natto dishes I've tried, and I hope you can contribute more ideas and keep the #nattolove alive. Enjoy :)
1. Natto + Ahi + Yamaimo + Quail Egg
Natto (slimy) and Yamaimo (also slimy) is an excellent idea! Add cubes of ahi and a creamy quail egg yolk, and you pretty much have perfection in a bowl. This was from an awesome sushi place in Hilo, Hawaii called Takenoko. This place only seats about 8 people, so make a reservation (probably several months in advance).
2. Natto + Shoyu Poke + Egg (Donburi style)
This is something I concocted at a breakfast buffet in Japan. I pieced together the finest ingredients they had on the buffet line, and created something even better. This bowl is evidence that the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.
3. Natto + Spicy Ahi
This is probably my all time favorite combination. You just can't go wrong with this one! This picture was taken at home, but here's a tip for eating out (most bang for your buck): I recommend the spicy ahi or mix don at Kuru Kuru Sushi and order natto on the side (ask for no rice). Instead of giving you the natto nigiri, you'll get a whole bowl of natto that you can use as topping for your donburi!
4. Natto + Hawaiian Poke Bowl
Paina Cafe was one of the first places that really got me hooked onto natto. Their regular poke bowls with natto topping are classic, but why not go a step further and get the awesome Hawaiian Poke Bowl (includes kalua pig, lomi salmon, and your choice of poke) and top that off with some natto? It's not your usual combination, but natto makes (almost everything) better, right?
5. Natto + Sauteed Vegetables + Poached Egg
This is a creation I made during college when I pretty much threw random ingredients that I had in the fridge together. Super easy and super delicious! I sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and onions in butter, put it on top of rice with some natto and a poached egg and breakfast was served :)
6. Natto + Cheese + Mochi (Okonomiyaki)
Well, sometimes I think I get a little crazy with my combinations. This looks like a hot mess, but it didn't taste like one. If I only put some kim chee, then this would've been extra delightful. I got this from a restaurant in Honolulu that no longer exists, but I think I want to make this at home someday. Another good okonomiyaki combination that I've made at home before is natto + spam + cheese. Yum!
7. Natto + Toast
Normally, natto on rice is a quick and simple breakfast. But sometimes, you just don't have rice and you have to get creative. This picture was taken when I was living in Japan and I found myself in this exact predicament. I added some ground sesame to the natto mixture for added flavor. An excellent alternative to peanut butter :P
8. Natto + Tofu
This dish is from a place called Sakura Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii but this is easily done at home. All they did was put natto on top of some deep fried tofu with some green onion. What's not to love?
9. Natto + Pasta
Pasta doesn't always have to be about marinara and alfredo. Natto makes this Wafu-style pasta complete. Find it at a place called Godmother located in Shirokiya.
10. Natto + Nabe
I love natto and I also love nabe. So of course, putting the two together is a whole lotta love. This one's self-explanatory. Just make your favorite nabe, and top with natto. Your belly will be happy.
11. Black Natto
I ordered this dish in Takaoka, Toyama (Japan) because I had never tried black natto at the time. It looked kind of scary, but it tasted pretty much like normal natto. I think you can find black natto at Japanese grocery stores here in Hawaii such as at Marukai, Nijiya, or Don Quijote.
12. Natto + Curry
At Curry House, while most of my friends order katsu or fried chicken as their topping, I decide to go with something a little different...
13. Natto + Grilled Mochi
One of my favorite late-night snacks that my mom used to make growing up was grilled mochi dipped in shoyu and wrapped in nori. Now my new favorite late-night snack is grilled mochi stuffed with natto! That makes it health, right??
14. Natto + ICE CREAM?!
Ok, so I only tried this because I love natto so much, but I have to admit that this wasn't the greatest idea. I got it at a place called Namjatown located in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. They had tons of varieties of ice cream flavors and of course, I chose the natto flavor. It pretty much tasted like vanilla ice cream with chunks of natto...but it was worth a try.
So, how much do you love natto? What is your favorite way to eat it, or are there any crazy combinations that you enjoy? Maybe you love natto as much as the person who made it their license plate...anyway, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. I hope you continue to share your natto love! #TeamNatto #NattoLove
Love and grub (and stringy slimy deliciousness!),