diy homemade nattō! (and yogurt)
Sticky, stinky, stringy, and downright delicious! Japanese people love their nattō and being half Japanese myself, I’m certainly no exception. I have fond memories of waking up to the smell of a traditional Japanese breakfast spread put together by my obaasan, usually consisting of miso soup, tamagoyaki, steamed rice, and nattō among other dishes. One of our family favorites is to serve nattō topped with nori along with pan-fried salmon, steamed broccoli and/or spinach, and steamed rice. Forget about hamburgers and chicken nuggets. THIS is the meal that my 11 year old craves! When you take into account the health benefits of natto, it’s a no-brainer to make it a regular part of your diet.
There’s just one problem; nattō is not readily available here in western Puerto Rico. Freshmart carries a lot of what Whole Foods carries in the states, but I have yet to find a Japanese food store anywhere in the area. We made do without for as long as we could, but one day I thought of something that probably would’ve never occurred to me in the states; maybe you can make nattō at home.
An online search quickly validated this idea so we bought some non-GMO sprouting soybeans and nattō starter spores online and got to work. The first batch was fermented in the oven using the heat of the oven light. Our second batch was fermented in our Instant Pot using the “Yogurt” setting. We found this approach to be much more convenient while also producing better results. (Here are our step by step directions on how to make nattō in an instant pot) We are still playing with fermentation times and techniques to increase the stickiness, but overall we were pretty happy to finally have some delicious and fresh nattō!
We have also tried making other fermented foods with mixed success. Holly used to make kombucha, sauerkraut, and pickles back in the states but has not been successful here because it’s too warm without whole-house air conditioning. We are planning to try again using a cooler. The only other thing that has worked well was tangy, fresh yogurt, also made in our Instant Pot.
Here, like anywhere, obstacles become challenges. Tell me I can’t have nattō anymore and I’ll go to the ends of the earth (or the world wide web…) to prove you wrong! 😉