Natto Jiru (Natto Miso Soup) Recipe

nattojiru

nattojiru

Natto jiru stands apart from the other miso soup. It is a nutritious meal by itself. The basic ingredients are root vegetables, and four different soy bean products, natto, miso, tofu, and aburaage. The mixture of miso and ground natto creates thick soup, and very satisfying.

Natto jiru is a Japanese word to signify winter in haiku. It is mainly eaten during cold winter month, because it uses root vegetables, which are available even in winter, and the thick soup mixture of natto and miso warm up the body.

Natto itself is an acquired taste, but natto jiru may be even more so. But if you like natto, you will love this soup. I omitted tofu this time, because didn’t have have it handy.

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 1 pack natto
  • 2 tbsp miso
  • 2 cups dashi
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced in 1/4″
  • 2 oz daikon peeled and quartered, and sliced in 1/4″
  • 1 oz konnyaku
  • 1/2 aburaage, cut into 1/4″ strips
  • 1/4 package kinugoshi (soft) tofu

Instruction

1
Grind natto using suribachi until all beans are smashed and smooth.
2
Boil dashi in a small bowl, and boil daikon and carrots about 3 minutes or until done. Cut aburaage and konnyaku into 1/4" strips and add to the pot. If you use already cut konnyaku, you don't need to cut. Tofu will be cut into 1/2" cubes and added this time.
3
Add small amount of soup into suribachi that has ground natto in it, and dissolve natto by grinding even more. The ground natto and soup will be add to the pot with miso paste. Heat the soup just before boil, and serve with chopped scallion on the top.

Natto

natto_bowl

natto_riceI am not certain how many Americans know about natto. My husband recognizes the smell, because I occasionally eat it, but he doesn’t want to know any further about it.

Natto is softly boiled soy beans fermented with a certain type of bacteria which live in straws. It is delicious and almost always eaten with rice.

Natto usually comes with a small amount of sauce in a package, and they are to be mixed in just before eating. Some people prefer to add chopped scallions or Japanese mustard. When natto is mixed, it starts to produce sticky stringy goo.

One of the famous Japanese food gurus Rosanjin stated that natto should be stirred a few hundred times before eating. I don’t know who has time to mix it so patiently, but many agree that natto tastes better when it’s mixed very well. The slimy texture of natto is somewhat similar to boiled okra, but natto is much slimier.

Many Japanese, including myself, familiarized themselves with this acquired taste since childhood as a part of standard Japanese breakfast, so that the slimy appearance, pungent smell and strong taste don’t bother them. But for others, it could be counted as one of the weirdest foods in the world.

natto_strawI remember buying natto wrapped in a bundle of straws when I was a child. That was the way originally natto was made and sold. But now natto is made in factories using cultured bacteria, and sold in styrofoam packages.

So try natto today. It is both nutritious and delicious. You can find it at a Japanese grocery store.

Typical Japanese Style Breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

This is my weekend brunch. My husband and son doesn’t eat this type of food for breakfast, but from time to time I crave it. This very basic meal consists of brown rice, miso soup, vegetable pickles, and natto (fermented soy beans).

I usually don’t eat Japanese style breakfast on weekdays, as it takes time to prepare. Then, I started to wonder, “Do many Japanese still eat Japanese style breakfast?”

According to a Japanese breakfast survey done on 2009, by one of the Internet marketing firm, people who eat Japanese style breakfast and Western style breakfast are almost evenly split, 43.2% and 40.0% respectively. Only tiny portion of respondents eat cereal or something else, and there are some who don’t eat breakfast.

Preparation of Japanese style breakfast takes time, as it usually involves cooking of rice and miso soup. To reduce the amount of early morning chores, people program rice cookers the night before, so that steamy hot rice is ready when they wake up.

In addition to rice and miso soup, other food such as grilled fish, natto (the brownish beans in the photo above), pickles, noriraw eggs, or cooked eggs seasoned with sugar and dashi may be on the table. Japanese style breakfast is smaller version of regular meal. They are delicious and nutritionally balanced. If someone can prepare for me, I would love to eat Japanese style breakfast every day.

Japanese Mustard

Japanese mustard powder


When a Japanese recipe calls for mustard, regular prepared mustard shouldn’t be used. Unlike American mustard, which is a combination of mustard seeds, vinegar, and other spices, Japanese mustard is only made of powdered mustard and water.

You can either buy powder type or ready to use tube type. When you prepare mustard on your own from powder, mix a small amount of water with mustard to form paste in a shot glass. Cover it for a while to develop potency. Once it’s made, it lasts only for a day or so. It won’t get bad, but it gets dry and lose potency. So that prepare a small amount of mustard every time you need.

Japanese mustard is served on the side, to accompany natto (fermented soy beans), oden, tonkatsu (breaded and fried pork), etc. Chinese and other asian cuisine use the same powdered mustard.

Japanese grocery stores carry both powder and tube type of mustard. Korean and Chinese grocery stores may carry tubes. For those who wish to order online, here are the links;