As part of one of Japan’s food experience is to try Nattō. Fermented beans usually eaten with rice in the mornings, although some people’s love for it would say it would be eaten for lunch and dinner as well. I wonder about that. It was first discovered by accident during the Kamakura period around the 1100s. It was initially given to horses as food and later became part of the people’s diet. Why? That is what I am here at the factory to find out. Nothing fermented sounds delicious, however, there are a lot of Japanese people that eat it and many friends have already mentioned to me their profound love for Nattō. For this task we visited the first town from where it all started. The benefit? We get to try Nattō at the end of the tour.Nattō is made using soybeans, smaller ones preferably, as the fermentation process will be able to reach the center of the bean more easily. The beans are washed and soaked in water for 12 to 20 hours and later steamed for 6 hours. Then they are mixed with the bacterium Bacillus Subtilis, known as Nattō-kin in Japanese. The mixture is fermented at 40 °C (104 °F) for up to 24 hours. Afterward the Nattō is cooled, then aged in a refrigerator for up to one week to allow the development of stringiness. Simply using 250ml of the bacterium is enough to make 4.5 tons of Nattō.Only 9 people worked at the factory and 3 of them worked in the processing and packaging of the product. That’s how few people it is needed to make 400kg of Nattō per day. The typical packages include 40g of Nattō and a small bag of ketchup and mustard sauce. As Japan is currently trying to make Nattō more popular to the world, they are thinking of ways to make the taste more appealing to foreigners. We suggested using barbecue sauce and other typical foreign sauces. Currently Yamada Foods Company is introducing Nattō in the United States and hopes to spread the culture of Nattō to other countries. Nattō is occasionally used in other foods, such as Nattō sushi, Nattō toast, in miso soup, tamagoyaki, salad, as an ingredient in okonomiyaki, or even with spaghetti.At end, we were each given 3 packages of Nattō and I must say, it was definitely interesting. And I mean interesting as…interesting. It definitely has a high nutrition value, higher than eating meat, yet it is also an acquired taste. I recommend everyone should try it and make their own opinion about it. There must be a reason why 70% of the Japanese population say they like it.
It is a short and straightforward tour of the history of one of Japan’s most interesting delicacies to be planned together with other trips around the area.