Natto, the durian of Japanese food

11 Jan

This totally not my own photo. Thanks, Preetam Rai!

Okay, I’m cheating today, too, since I grew up eating natto, but I’ve run out of topics today. Posting every day is hard, especially now that I’m back home with familiar foods. You may have heard of natto, the notorious Japanese fermented soybean product. Like durian, it has an aroma that people either love or hate, although I don’t think natto has ever been banned from a public place. Unlike durian, I don’t think it would be much good in ice cream, though someone has tried. It’s very, uh, slippery (some would say slimy), it’s a little bitter — and then there’s that ammonia-rich smell. (Yes, I’m aware that other things that smell like ammonia are cat pee and bat guano. Camembert smells like feet, but no one complains if it shows up on their cheese tray.) I like mine mixed with okra (to up the slipperiness factor) and green onion; there’s nothing better on a bowl of hot rice. Home is all about comfort food, right?


5 Responses to “Natto, the durian of Japanese food”

  1. Preetam Rai January 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    How about ika shiokara? I love natto too. We once had a lot of fun preparing natto in a Singapore public library as a part of a Japanese food culture presentation.

    • rgautz January 14, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

      Thanks again for the great photo! I love ika shiokara. Good idea.


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