Natto, also known as fermented soybeans, varies in characteristics according to the region it is produced in and the techniques that are applied to. There are roughly two types of natto in Japan: itohiki-natto and shiokara-natto.
As its name suggests, “shiokara (salt-spicy) natto” has a salty and miso-like flavor, and so it is often eaten as ochazuke or used as a seasoning. Therefore, when we usually call “natto,” we mean “itohiki natto” which uniquely pulls threads. “Itohiki natto” is divided into three types. One is “marudaizu-natto,” those that are commonly eaten by Japanese people, which is made by boiling whole soybeans and fermenting them with natto bacteria. The second is “hikiwari-natto,” which is made by roasting and roughly grinding soybeans, and removing the skin on the surface before it is boiled. It was made in Aomori, Akita, and Iwate even before the Edo period. The third is “goto-natto,” a dish that has been passed down in the Yonezawa region of Yamagata Prefecture for a long time. It is made by adding koji and salt to hikiwari natto, which is then aged in a barrel. It is now sold under the name of “Yukiwari Natto” with reduced salt content.
Did you ever know that there are so many types of natto? Though different regions preferred different nattos, itohiki natto is the most commonly served natto today.
When you visit Japan, we recommend you taste the various natto and understand the culture behind them. We also recommend Sasayaka’s Never Never Pack that would surely enhance your experience.
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