Natto My Love

Hubbie is in Belgrade, Serbia at the moment, giving a lecture.
And I & Mr. B are left alone to roam free. Yipee!

Not that Hubbie is a controlling kind of guy. Far from it.
However, he can be quite picky when it comes down to food.
So I eat what I cannot eat normally when he is away!

He is born & bred in Yorkshire with very plain foods (so I gather).
Therefore, his taste bud is rather conservative. Serving him anything un-British, his cutlery stops moving.
Ever since we started to go out together, I introduced him to more diverse culinary experience.
However, old habits die-hard, he can’t take anything overly spicy, sour nor pungent.
One of the foods I look forward to enjoying during his absence is Natto.
Natto is a soya product which is an everyday food amongst Japanese, especially in the east half of Japan.
It has a certainly smell & texture due to its making process – fermentation. The distinctive smell of Natto, which resembles smelly French farm cheese, presents a definite challenge for any non-Japanese. They meet their Waterloo…
As being a picky child myself, Natto was not my favourite side dish either. My heart used to sink when I caught a whiff of that sticky & slimy brown stuff. Detecting my disapproval, my mom sternly ordered me “Take 2 more spoonfuls. It will make your bone strong”. I gingerly transferred 2 large scoops of Natto on my rice and shovelled the mixture into my mouth as quickly as I could manage…
I can’t remember since when I started to appreciate and enjoy eating Natto. Maybe in my twenties? My taste bud seemed to have grown up. And learning that Natto had many health benefits helped me to overcome my initial reservation too.

When Hubbie visited my family the first time, my parents opted for a large tray of sushi as a welcome dinner.
My dad became mischievous and chaperoned him to try one of Natto gunkan-makis – Gunkan-maki is a type of sushi consisting of sushi rice shaped in a oblong cylinder and wrapped in a sheet of nori. The top is adorned with fish roe, Japanese style coleslaw or Natto.
Hubbie was so keen to impress his future father-in-law, therefore, picked the one up obligingly and placed it in his mouth. His eyes widened with a shock then became slightly teary. While I held my breath, he gulped it in one go like a starving crocodile and followed it up with a large swig of beer.
Dad’s eye glinted of glee and uttered “Outstanding!” Naughty dad.
Ever since, Natto never goes anywhere near Hubbie’s lips…

Anyway, my lonely feast starts earnestly…

Typical Natto comes in like this.
3 or 4 are bundled up as a set. I buy them from a Japanese supermarket and keep them in a freezer.
Accompanying Natto is a small sachet of seasoning (soy sauce based sauce) and mustard…

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Seasoning & mustard will be added later.
First of all, the Natto is transfered to a bowl…

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Then, whisking commence!
My mom used to say “Stir 100 times at least!” At the beginning, the natto is very sticky which makes getting going rather tough. The Natto spins white web and it sticks to the surface like a Spiderman’s!  Still, I persevere with firmly held chopsticks in my right hand and gripping the bowl like a vice with my left.
This is how it looks after stirring 200 times…

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After it is whisked more than 200 times, the texture loosens up and turns creamy.
Then, I add the seasoning. Mmmm, it’s ready…

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Natto can be enjoyed as it is, or with a bowl of rice.
It can also be added to omelette or even be served on top of Japanese style curry!
Natto provokes and divides opinions. Some love and some loathe.
It’s a bit like Marmite, don’t you agree?…

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