As long as Japanese people have lived abroad for a long time and return to Japan, what you want to eat may be natto. To foreigners, it is essential to become the number one Japanese food that can not be eaten, but for Japanese people it is as important as Australian Vegemite or British Marmite. And recently attracting attention from all over the world that this natto is good for health. So I will introduce this natto this time.
What is Natto?
Natto is a fermented food that fermented soybeans mixed with Bacillus natto. Soybeans are rich in nutritious food, as it is said to be ‘farm of the field’, but if you just boil, if you eat too much due to the digestion inhibiting enzyme called trypsin inhibitor, you may cause dyspepsia and diarrhoea. However, fermentation not only disappears of this enzyme, but also increases vitamins and umami by the action of Bacillus natto. Further abundant proteins are broken down into amino acids and produce various effects to us.
What Kind of Bacteria is Bacillus Natto?
Bacillus natto is an elongated rod shape (fungus) found by Masahiro Sawamura in 1905 (Meiji 38). Originally living in the straw, it is said that 10 million rice sticks adhere to 1 rice straw. Most of the things sold now by Styrofoam, but in the old days they were wrapped in straw. By wrapping it in the straw, the heat keeping effect is raised, and Bacillus natto also increases easily.
However, Bacillus natto is wrapped in a durable shell called spore, so you can survive even in harsh environments. To be surprised, it seems to be OK even in sunlight ultraviolet rays and hot water, and even -100 ° C. You can buy frozen natto at a Japanese foodstuff shop, as go through this principle, it means that natto bacteria are not dead even it’s frozen!
The first character that comes out natto is ‘Shin Sarugaku’ written by Heiji Fujiwara (Akihira) in the Heian era (794 to 1185). It is said that it originated from what was made of ‘delivery’ (monikeru), where the priest plays a bribe in the temple. However, natto at this time seems to be a black and salty type with no sticky.
There are various episodes and legends in the birth of necto (natto fermented bean) we are eating current style. The most famous story is in Ibaraki prefecture. The anecdote of Yawata Taro Yoshiie (Genjiya), During the battle in ‘The Three Years’ Role (1083), we had the warriors carrying cooked beans covered in straw. When we took a break in Mito area, Ibaraki prefecture, it was fermented well and very delicious, so it was the beginning of making Natto. This is said to originate from Mito-natto.
Why is Natto so Sticky?
Natto’s stickiness is a mucin that Bacillus natto produces when fermenting soybean and glutamic acid is bound. Glutamic acid is a famous amino acid as a taste component of kombu, but the unique flavour of natto is also due to this.
Besides natto, mucin is also contained in okra, taro, and stewed leeky ingredients, but the surface of the mucosa of our body is also covered with mucin. Especially the stomach is thick, the stomach is not dissolved by stomach acid because it is protected with mucin.
Benfits of Natto
Natto contains abundant digestive enzymes. This enzyme is quite important for digesting what we ate and absorbing it as a nutrient to the body. Enzymes are something that can not live without it, not only digesting and decomposing food but also maintaining your heathy life styles.
- Prevent myocardial infarction and cerebral infarction : The enzyme nattokinase not only prevents thrombosis that causes myocardial infarction and cerebral infarction but also has the function to dissolve already formed thrombus.
- Make a strong bone : Natto contains rich in vitamin K 2 which is a supplementary ingredient of calcium necessary for strengthening bones. Originally K2 is made by our intestinal bacteria, but the number of bacteria decreases with age, so K2 also decreases and bones become weak. It is also included in Aonori and eggs, dairy products, etc. It is said that the content of natto is the largest.
- Decrease cholesterol level : It is said that an unsaturated fatty acid such as linolenic acid contained in lecithin and soybean contained in natto which suppresses and melts bad cholesterol.
- Anti-bacterial : It is said to be effective for constipation etc. because it has a function to activate good bacillus in the intestine and to adjust the intestines.
- The effect of lowering blood glucose level.
How to Eat Natto
Well, Natto is very good for health, but in fact it is very smelly for foreigners and it is very sticky, not easy to eat at all. Basically, you can arrange a few different way, such as mixing with tofu, pasta or even add to some salad but well, I don’t think it’s eatable for most foreigners.
My husband still has a terrible disgusting face when I am eating it. And I tried to feed him a few times changing cooking methods and recipes but there is no chance, sorry…. you have to grow up with this….
But I found some good news for people who still wants to try this beautiful Natto!
* This photo is copyright free public domain material, this guy is not my husband!
Nowadays, I have seen a few Natto supplements (sorry only online), here we go!