When we read about Natto, it is often mentioned as a superfood, as well as “supersmelly”, so will be those natto recipes. Is that a big surprise ? Not really, as we are talking about fermented food, like cheese, for exexemple. In this small article we will see some ways to eat them !

What is the smell and taste of the Natto ?

There is not only “one taste” or “one smell” for natto and it varies according the fermentation process you will choose. Some people say it is close to cottage cheese, blue cheese, fermented old meat. We can resume it like this, but I would say natto just smells like natto ! The taste is also pretty similar to the smell !

How good Natto is good for health ?

Natto is fantastic to strengthen your intestinal flora: it is one of the richest fermented foods in prebiotics and probiotics. It contains the Bacillus subtilis, whic is helping the other “good” bacterias of your intestine to grow up ! It is also helping losing weight.

How to eat Natto ?

We are comparing a lot natto and cheese. That said, it is not true that we can eat natto in as many way than cheese. In Japan the most traiditonnel way to eat it is on the top oof a bowl of rice, topped with soy sance and karashi, the japanese mustard. Eaten that way you can add some sesame seeds, avocade, bonito flakes, onions, shiso or even eggs (yolk) ! You do not need to eat a lot of natto to enjoy its benefits, in general, at the supermarkets you can find them for one meal, packed in a box.

Recipes of Japanese natto

Here we will see some of the numerous recipes that exists in the world of natto. I believe they are also the most common ones.

Vegan Japanese Cuisine: Natto no Age Yaki

My French Friend in Osaka has already extensively written about such recipes, so the present recipe is more a confirmation than an innovation!

Natto no Age Yaki

It is very popular in Japan, probably more in my region, Shizuoka and Kanto, than in the western part of Japan including Osaka!

fresh thin leeks

First of all, choose some good fresh thin leeks and use a lot for your Vitamin C, fibers and other useful nutrients. Chop them fine and drop them in a bowl.

Add the natto to the leeks.

Add the natto to the leeks. I also add a little light taste soy sauce, a little sesame oil, a little mustard and some chili pepper for additional zip. But this seasoning is entirely up to your preferences and priorities.
Mix well! It must form a really sticky mass.

Aburaage: deep-fried tofu pouches

If you make them yourself, great!
If you can buy them freshly made at the market, great again!

Aburaage: deep-fried tofu pouches.

Now, if you buy them packed, they either come as they are or in brine.
If in brine, throw the brine away and sponge the aburaage of between sheets of kitchen paper.

Cut each aburaage in half

Cut each aburaage in half, or cut off one “tail” only to form a larger pouch.
With a sharp knife, “open” the aburaage so as to form a pouch.
Fill the pouch with the natto nixture.

“Lock” the pouch

“Lock” the pouch with a wooden toothpick as shown on the picture.

On a frypan without any oil

Fry on a frypan without any oil (plenty left inside the pouch), unless you are using aburaage preserved in brine.
Then, fry to a crispy broan colour.
Cut or serve as it is (look at top picture!) with some freshly grated ginger and some ponzu!

Vegan Japanese Cuisine: Lotus Root and Natto Sandwiches

I still have plenty of recipes with natto to publish!
This time I would like to introduce a very simple idea for a cruchy snack (Bazooka Gourmet will certainly have a comment for that! LOL):
Lotus Root and Natto Sandwiches!

Lotus roots and natto !

INGREDIENTS: For 4 people

  • Lotus root/Renkon: 20 cm long piece or the equivalent in 2 or 3 roots
  • Natto: 1 standard pack
  • Ooba/large shiso leaves/perilla leaves: 1 for each sandwich!
  • Leek: as appropriate (chopped)
  • Cornstarch: as appropriate
  • Soy sauce: as appropriate


  • Cut the lotus root into 5 mm/1/2 cm thick slices. Wash in clear cold water.
  • Mix the natto with the chopped leeks and the tare/sauce and mustard provided in usual packs (if unavailable add some soy sauce, sesame oil and mustard).
    Wash the large perilla leaves in clear cold water.

  • Take water off both sides of lotus root slices with kitchen paper. Do the same with perilla leaves. Sprinkle lotus root slices with cornstarch on one side only, that is the side which will come in contact with frypan and oil.
  • Make sandwiches with one slice of lotus root + one perilla leaf + natto mix + one more lotus root slice.
    Pour a little oil of your liking in a frypan and fry snadwiches on both sides until the lotus root is cooked and has attained a nice colour.
  • Serve with a light soy sauce and yuzu kosho/lime and pepper paste for extra seasoning!

Enjoy with a beer!

Vegan Japanese Cuisine: Natto Mabodofu

Mabodofu in Japanese or Mapo Doufu in Chinese Mapo doufu, is a popular Chinese dish from the Sichuan (Szechuan) province. It is a combination of tofu (bean curd) set in a spicy chili- and bean-based sauce, typically a thin, oily, and bright red suspension, and often topped with minced meat, usually pork or beef.

Variations exist with other ingredients such as water chestnuts, onions, other vegetables, or wood ear fungus, but these are rarely considered authentic Sichuanese.

Natto Mabodofu

The Japanese sometimes combine it with natto to create a vegan recipe!

Natto Mabodofu!

INGREDIENTS: For 2~ people

  • Natto: 2 standard packs
  • Tofu (silk to fu): 1 standard block/300~400 g
  • Leek: 1/2 finely chpped
  • Fresh ginger: 3×3 cm cube, finely chopped
  • Garlic: 1 clove, finely chopped
  • Salad oil or seasme oil: as appropriate
  • Soy sauce: 1 tablespoon
  • Mirin/Sweet sake: 1 tablespoon
  • Japanese sake: 1 tablespoon
  • Doubanjiang/豆板醤: 1 tablespoon
  • Shichuan pepper (if a vailable): a little


  • Mix the natto with its tare/sauce. If tare is not provided, mix it with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Press water out of tofu. Cut tofu into small pieces (size of the pieces is up to your preference actually!).-In a bowl mix soy sauce, Japanese, mirin and Doubanjiang into seasoning sauce. Set apart.
  • Heat oil in a frypan. Throw in the chopped leek, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for a while.
  • Once the leek have become half transparent throw in natto and the seasoning sauce. Mix and heat quickly for a short while.
  • Add tofu, Fry until natto has mixed with tofu.
  • If there is not enough water to your preference, add some hot (not cold!) water. Sprinkle with Shichuan pepper and serve atop freshly steamed plain rice!

Fried Spicy Natto and Daikon

Since I started this series on natto, (Lou Ann; , keep your eyes open!), I seem to have found more vegan recipes for it!

Fried Spicy Natto & Daikon:

Fried Spicy Natto & Daikon:

INGREDIENTS: For 2~3 people

  • Daikon: 10 cm long piece (peeled, bear in mind that the bottom tip is hotter!)
  • Natto: 2 standard packs
  • Soy sauce: 2 tablespoons
  • Mirin/Sweet sake: 1 tablespoon
  • Seven Flavor Chili Pepper/Shichimi Togarashi (Shichimi)/七味唐辛子/: as much as you like!


  • Cut the daikon into 1~2 cm square pieces.
  • Mix the natto with the tare and other condiments provided in a bowl. Put aside.
  • Pour some oil in a frypan. Fry the daikon pieces over a medium fire until they become half transaprent.
  • Lower the fire. Add the natto to the daikon and mix well while cooking until the natto has become less sticky.
  • Add soy sauce and mirin. Stir. Check taste and add seasoning if needed.
  • Last add Shichimi and mix.
  • Serve with beer or Japanese sake!

Natto and Sesame Seeds Sushi Roll!

Some time ago, I did come with some Vegan Sushi suggestions.
Since I have started postings on natto (Lou Ann; , keep your eyes open!), combining it with vegan is only natural!

Natto sushi roll !

Natto & Sesame Seeds Sushi Roll!


  • Natto: 1 standard pack
  • Dry seaweed/nori: 1 standard sheet
  • White (actually yellow!) sesame seeds: 8 tablespoons
  • Rice: 1 “go” (180 cc/ml
  • Konbu/seaweed (hard type for cooking): 3×3 cm piece
  • Salt: 1/3 teaspoon
  • Sesame oil: 1 teaspoon
  • Japanese mustard: as appropriate
  • ◎Rice vinegar: tablepsoons
  • ◎Sugar: 1 teaspoon
  • ◎Salt: 1/3 teaspoon


  • Wash the recipe and steam until still a little firmer than usual.
  • Drop “◎” ingredients in a small and gently heat until all is dissolved. Try to keep it lukewarm.
  • Add “●” ingredients to natto and mix.
  • Mix in “◎” liquid with rice by “cutting ” it in.
  • Line a sushi roll mat with cellophane paper and sprinkle the whole surface with sesame seeds.
  • Spread the sushi rice evenely over the sesame seeds covered cellophane paper. Cover with the dry seaweed sheet.
  • Spread the natto mix along one side of the sushi rice and on the seaweed.
  • Roll in carefully by lifting the cellophane paper at the same time.
  • If you think that the roll is not round enough to your taste, pinch each cellophane paper extremity shut and press into shape.
    When cutting the sushi roll, you can do it across the cellophane paper with a sharp knife and then delicately unwrap it.
    Wipe your knife clean after each cut!

Vegan Natto & Aburage Tofu

Tofu and natto are both made from soy beans and can be easily combined into vegan recipes!

Tofu and natto are both made from soy beans

Natto & Aburage Tofu!
If you have any problems with quantities, look at pics or experiment!

INGREDIENTS: For 2 people

  • Aburage/deep-fried tofu: 1 standard pack/2 blocks
  • Natto: 1/2 standard pack
  • Natto tare/sauce/dresing (sold with pack): as appropriate
  • Miso: 2 tablespoons
  • Leek: 1/2 chopped
  • Soy sauce: as appropriate


  • Sponge water the oil and humidity off the aburage with some kitchen apaper. Cut through as to be able to open and stuff the tofu. The best method is to cut at an angle as shown in above picture, leaving half closed. Actually, you had better experiment, although you must keep in mind that the tofu should not be completely cut!
  • Add some chopped leeks and the tare/sauce to the natto and stir until sticky. Add remaing chopped leeks and stir well.
  • Paste the inside of the tofu with miso. Use a spoon. Stuff each tofu block with half of the natto. Secure with a toothpick.
  • Until tofu attains a nice toast colour, fry it. No need to use oil!
  • You can also grill inthe toaster!
  • Cut to size of your preference or serve it whole. Provide soy sauce for more seasoning if needed.
  • Aburage as sold packed in Japan, although you will find them freshly made at any good large supermarket here!

Natto, Tofu & Yam Fritters

Since Lou-ann has decided to run an article on natto (Japanese fermented beans), I thought that some recipes were in order!
Sorry for the small picture.

Natto and tofu Yam Fritters

Here is a very simple recipe that vegans and vegeatarinas can re-arrange by replacing the egg!

Natto, tofu and yam fritters!

INGREDIENTS: For 2 people

  • Tofu (solk tofu): 1 block/300~400 g
  • Natto: 1 standar pack (more or less according to taste-Natto tare/natto dressing (usually sold together)
  • Soy sauce: according to taste (experiment!)
  • Yam/Yama imo: 5cm long piece/grated
  • Egg: 1
  • Leek (chopped): as much as you like!
  • Rice powder or cornstarch: 3 tablespoons
  • Salt, pepper, spices: according to preferences


  • Wrap the tofu in cellophane paper and heat in microwave oven for 2 minutes.
  • In a large mortar, drop all ingredients and mix well.
  • Add natto tare/natto dressing and soy sauce. Mix well.
  • Heat deep-fry oil to 170 degrees Celsius.
  • Drop the fritter batter a large spoon at a time.
  • Once it has reached a nice “fox” colour, take out of the oil. Serve on a dish lined with kitchen paper.
  • Serve with a sauce/dressing made with soy sauce, mustard and ponzu, or mustard, rice vinagar and ponzu.

Note that there endless possibilities with the recipe ingredients:
you can add or replace with shiso/perilla leaves, sesame seeds, hijiki/sweet seaweed, grated carrot and so on!


Natto miso soup !

For sure, Natto is a great condiment to add to your miso soup!
It is not only healthy, but also so comforting!
Here is the basic recipe, which is open to so many variations.
I did not bother with quantities as it is the basic recipe!
I made it vegan to please everyone!

(Vegan) Natto Miso Soup/Natto Jiru!

First of all, you need dashi/Japanese soupstock.
Check the Vegan Dashi Recipe!
It will make for at least 60% of the whole soup.
Heat the dashi but do not bring it to boil!

Next you need miso paste.
Check Miso, The Basics.
I personally prefer white miso in this case, but it’s open to all varieties. Bear in mind that usually the darker, the more salt miso will contain.
Mix the amount of your preference (experiment) and and mix.
The Japanese first put the miso in a large ladle and will mix it with a small amount iof the same dashi to attain a smooth mixture.

Add a few small pieces of tofu!

Now, the natto!
The amount is up to your liking!
But first stir it well until it has attained a sticky paste state.
Add to the dashi and cook gently, stirring from time to time if necessary until the natto has “spread” into the soup, losing its stickiness at the same time.

Next, mushrooms!
My favourite are nameko, a small mushroom with a lot of “stickiness”.
(Wikipedia: Nameko (Pholiota nameko) is a small, amber-brown mushroom with a slightly gelatinous coating ).
You can buy them at Asian markets in sealed packs.
Naturally you can always experiment with other mushrooms!

No need to overcook, and please do not bring it to boil.
Serve with a good amount of finely chopped leeks!

Simple, isn’t it?


Iri Natto recipe

Japanese Vegan Recipe: Natto Cha Zuke・納豆茶漬け

Vegan Natto Imperial Rolls

Vegan Natto & Cucumber Sushi Rolls

Natto & Rice Patties

Natto: Make-It-Yourself Recipe

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