15 Health Benefits of Natto, According to Science (+5 Delicious Recipes)

Natto is a fermented soy product packed with nutritional benefits for human beings. Many people consider it unappealing owing to its strong smell and gooey texture. However, you may be surprised at the immense benefits you can accrue from consuming this super food on a regular basis.

Fermented soybeans are the best and safest way to consume soy. Natto is packed with minerals, vitamins, fiber, and protein (1). A cup of Natto provides you with 38% of the daily-recommended intake of calcium. Natto is also surprisingly low in sodium, which means it is beneficial for people with high blood pressure.

You can make Natto by soaking soybeans in water, and then steaming/boiling them. You then add a bacteria known as Bacillus subtilis to the boiled soybeans. This will make the soybeans ferment over a short period.

The following are some of the health benefits of natto, as well as some delicious recipes you can make at home.

1. Natto is good for the promotion of bone health

Natto contains a significant amount of vitamin K, and studies have shown that the vitamin is partly responsible for bone mineralization (2). One particular study showed that the vitamin can help in the prevention and management of osteoporosis especially in postmenopausal women.

Research also shows that postmenopausal women who consume at least four packets of natto every week reduce their risk of bone loss by 80%.

Studies also indicate that vitamin K can help slow down the process of age-related loss in bone mineral density. In addition, the vitamin is critical in reducing the risk of fractures in the elderly.

Calcium is abundant in natto, and several studies have shown that the mineral provides a definite structure to both teeth and bones (2).

In addition, adequate dietary intake of calcium on a regular basis has been shown to help in the prevention of certain bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

Natto also contains iron, and conclusive research has demonstrated that a deficiency in the mineral can cause bone resorption, as well as increase the chances of osteoporosis (3).

The nutritious food also contains manganese, and scientific reports indicate that manganese helps copper and zinc in promoting healthy bone density (4). Studies also suggest that manganese can help relieve pain in patients who are suffering from osteoarthritis.

Bottom Line: Natto contains manganese, iron, calcium, and vitamin K, which are all important in maintaining proper bone function.

2. Natto promotes good heart health

As a rich source of vitamin K, especially vitamin K2, natto can help prevent the calcification of the arteries and their stiffening (2). This is important as arterial calcification is often a precursor of coronary heart disease, among other cardiovascular diseases.

Animal studies have also shown that an increase in the intake of vitamin K can help in reversing arterial calcification.

Natto is also an excellent source of calcium, and studies have proven that adequate intake of the mineral is effective in lowering blood cholesterol and pressure (2). These activities contribute to a healthy heart.

Natto also contains an enzyme known as nattokinase, which studies show in preventing a number of cardiovascular conditions (5). These conditions include stroke, atherosclerosis, varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, chest pain, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

Studies also indicate that nattokinase is effective in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressures (6). This means it can be used in the treatment and prevention of hypertension, which is often a factor in the development of heart problems.

Natto is a rich source of dietary fiber, and studies have proven that this nutrient can help in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases by lowering cholesterol, and reducing blood pressure (7).

Natto also contains Vitamin C, a natural antioxidant that inhibits the oxidation of bad cholesterol, a process that ultimately results in atherosclerosis if left unchecked (8). Scientific research has also shown that there could be an inverse relationship between dietary vitamin C intake and risk of cardiovascular diseases (8).

Research has proven that higher intake of vitamin C can help reduce both diastolic and systolic blood pressures, which can help relieve and alleviate hypertension (9).

Natto also contains iron, and studies have shown that a deficiency in the element is linked to a higher chance of heart failure (10).

The fermented food also contains high level of zinc, and studies show that the mineral possesses protective effects against atherosclerosis (11).

Natto also contains an abundance of copper, a trace element known to reduce total and LDL cholesterol (12). A deficiency in copper is associated with an increased risk for atherosclerosis and hypercholesterolemia.

In addition, the nutritious food contains significant amounts of potassium, and one study showed that an increase in potassium intake in hypertensive patients results in a drop in blood pressure as well as a reduced risk of stroke (13).

Bottom Line: Natto contains potassium, copper, fiber, nattokinase, zinc, iron, vitamin C, vitamin K, and calcium, which are essential in the prevention and management of cardiovascular diseases.

3. Natto can help maintain proper blood function

Natto contains significant amounts of vitamin K, which is responsible for enabling blood coagulation (2). This helps prevent excessive bleeding as well as exacerbates wound healing.

Natto also contains nattokinase, an enzyme that studies show can help improve blood flow by preventing the aggregation of platelets, as well as preventing thrombosis (14).

Nattokinase can also enhance proper blood function due to its fibrinolytic activity (15). This activity helps hasten the process of wound healing.

Natto contains a relatively high amount of iron, and it is a scientific fact that the element is required in the synthesis of hemoglobin and the transport of oxygen throughout the body (16).

Bottom Line: Natto contains iron, nattokinase, and vitamin K, which are crucial in the proper functioning of blood.

4. Natto can help improve cognition and prevent cognitive diseases

Natto is rich in vitamin K, which studies indicate can help improve cognition especially in older adults (17). These studies have shown that vitamin K can help improve memory in the elderly. In addition, a deficiency in the vitamin can lead to cognitive impairment among elderly individuals.

Studies show that nattokinase, one of the most important functional ingredients in natto, protects the brain from infarctions, which is whereby the arteries supplying oxygen and blood become narrow or blocked (18).

One animal study has shown that nattokinase can help in inhibiting the factors that lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease (19).

Natto also contains dietary fiber, and studies have linked the nutrient to better cognitive health and performance, especially in postmenopausal women (20).

Studies also show that dietary fiber helps improve spatial memory, and inhibit inflammation, which can lead to cognitive degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (20).

Vitamin C, abundantly found in natto, can protect the brain from cerebral ischemia, a condition where there is insufficient blood flow to the brain (21).

Studies also show that vitamin C can help improve memory and learning in aged patients particularly those suffering from amnesia (21).

Iron is also found in natto, and studies have shown that a deficiency in the element can lead to impaired cognitive development and function (16). The deficiency can also result in diminished learning capacities.

Natto contains relatively high amounts of zinc whose deficiency can lead to cognitive ailments such as neuronal atrophy, impaired memory, loss of cognitive function, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.

Natto also contains thiamine, which is known to boost cognitive performance especially in the elderly (22).

Natto boasts of a healthy dose of selenium, an essential mineral, which when deficient contributes to cognitive decline (23).

Bottom Line: Natto contains several nutrients that are essential in promoting cognitive health in people of all ages.

5. Natto can help boost the immune system

One animal study has shown that Bacillus subtilis, the bacteria present in natto, can help improve the immune function (24). This is by promoting a healthy gut flora, which inhibits the growth of dangerous bacteria such as Escherichia coli.

Studies also show that dietary fiber, found in significant amounts in natto, can help improve the immune function by stimulating the production of short-chain fatty acids (20). Increased fiber intake is linked to an increase in neutrophils, macrophages and T-cells, all of which play an integral role in the immune system.

Studies also suggest that increase in fiber intake increases illness resistance, and lowers mortality from common ailments such as inflammatory diseases, and CVD (20).

Natto is also rich in vitamin C, and a lot of research proves that the vitamin is effective in the prevention of the common cold (8).

Studies also suggest that vitamin C improves the immune function by encouraging the spread of T-cells when an infection occurs (8). Furthermore, scientists argue that ascorbic acid also inhibits the death of the T-cells, which helps promote the immune function.

Natto is rich in iron, and studies suggest that a low intake of iron can result in hampered immune system functions (16). Iron deficiency can also result in increased vulnerability to infections.

Zinc is also found in high quantities in natto. Studies show that a deficiency in zinc leads to an impaired immune system (11). The most common feature of immune impairment due to zinc deficiency is diarrhea.

In addition, studies have shown that an increase in zinc intake reduces the prevalence and risk of pneumonia (11). Furthermore, zinc deficiency is related to increased recurrent infections in the elderly.

Natto also contains selenium, and conclusive scientific research has shown that a deficiency in selenium directly contributes to a decline in immune function (23).

Natto is also rich in copper, and studies indicate that the trace element is crucial in maintaining proper levels of macrophages, natural killer cells, and phagocytes, thus promoting the immune function (12).

Bottom Line: Natto contains several trace elements, as well as fiber, bacteria, and vitamin C that help boost the immune function.

6. Natto can help promote proper digestion

Natto contains the probiotic bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, and studies show that the organism prevent and heal diarrhea caused by pathogens (25). In addition, studies show that the bacterium is effective in relieving several types of intestinal inflammatory diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome.

The probiotics in natto also make the food that we eat more digestible. This accelerates the rate at which the body can absorb the nutrients (26). In addition, the probiotics can help protect the gut from dangerous bacteria and toxins.

Natto also contains dietary fiber, which is essential for proper laxation (7, 26). This is mainly because fiber adds to the weight of the stool, and makes the stool softer. These activities also help prevent or relieve instances of constipation.

Bottom Line: Natto contains fiber, prebiotics, and bacteria that play an influential role in promoting healthy digestion.

7. Natto can help promote proper oral health

Natto contains the probiotic, Bacillus subtilis, which studies have proven is effective in defeating periodontopathic bacteria in patients suffering from periodontitis (27).

The super food is also rich in vitamin C, and several studies have shown that vitamin C is essential in preventing oral diseases such as periodontitis, gingivitis, and dental caries (28).

Natto also contains zinc, a metal whose deficiency can lead to a disease known as acrodermatitis enteropathica. A rash around the mouth often characterizes this disease (11). Thus, higher intakes of zinc rich food such as natto can help manage and alleviate the disease.

Bottom Line: Natto contains zinc, vitamin C, and probiotics that promote healthy gums, teeth, and overall oral hygiene.

8. Natto can help in the prevention and treatment of various cancers

Natto contains dietary fiber, and numerous animal and human studies have shown that fiber can help in the fight against various cancers including colon cancer (7, 29).

Dietary fiber acts against different types of cancer by limiting the digestion of macronutrients, as well as inhibiting contact between the cancer causing agent and the lumen of the intestines (29).

Natto contains high amounts of probiotics, and scientific research has shown that these organisms can help in the prevention of colon cancer (30).

Natto is also an effective anticancer agent because of its rich content of vitamin C. Studies have shown that vitamin C can help in the prevention of cancer by scavenging free radicals before they cause any damage (8).

In addition, studies have shown that ascorbic acid helps the beneficial free radicals in the body destroy cancerous tumors while they are still small (8).

Extensive research demonstrates that a high dietary intake of vitamin C is inversely related to the risk of stomach cancer (8). Furthermore, research shows that a low intake of ascorbic acid is linked to an increase in the risk of cervical cancer.

Some studies have also shown that selenium, a nutrient also found in natto, can confer protective properties against colorectal, lung, bladder, and prostate cancers when the mineral is taken in adequate amounts through food (23).

Bottom Line: Natto contains several nutrients, which have been proven to have protective effects against different types of cancer.

9. Natto can help in the prevention and management of type II diabetes

Natto contains a significant amount of dietary fiber, and studies show that fiber can help in promoting proper glycemic control (7). In addition, numerous studies have shown an inverse relationship between dietary intake of fiber and the development of type II diabetes.

Natto also contains a high amount of vitamin C, and studies indicate an increase in intake of the vitamin can help reduce blood sugar levels in individuals with type II diabetes (31).

Research has shown that an increase in the intake of zinc, which is abundantly found in natto, can help manage insulin resistance in children, thereby inhibiting the development of diabetes (11).

Studies have also shown that zinc plays a crucial role in glucose metabolism (32). Research has shown that zinc deficiency leads to oxidative stress, promoting the development of diabetes.

Natto also contains manganese, and research has shown that the metal has an important function in inhibiting the progression of diabetes (4, 32, 33). Studies show that diabetic patients have low manganese levels signifying a protective function of the element against the disease.

In addition, natto is rich in calcium and potassium, and studies have shown that individuals that suffer from type II diabetes have low levels of calcium and potassium indicating that the minerals have a protective effect against diabetes (32).

Natto also contains significant amount of magnesium, a mineral that plays an integral role in enhancing insulin resistance (32).

Natto is also rich in copper, and studies show that a deficiency in this trace element results diminished insulin response, as well as glucose intolerance (32).

Owing to its antioxidant properties, selenium, another trace element found in natto, can help prevent diabetes (32). Scientists have also shown that the element is effective in preventing complications in diabetic patients.

Bottom Line: Natto is rich in nutrients that can help prevent or manage type II diabetes.

10. Natto can help in weight management

Owing to its large content of fiber, natto can help in appetite control and weight management (7, 20). The fiber in natto helps increase satiety and satiation, preventing you from eating more than you should.

Studies have also shown that individuals who consume fiber-rich foods weigh considerably less than individuals who do not consume as much fiber.

Natto also contains probiotics, which help promote healthy gut flora. Studies have shown that individuals who consume probiotics-rich foods were less likely to become obese (34). In fact, studies show that obese individuals contain less probiotics in their gut compared to those of average weight.

The super food is also rich in vitamin C, and studies have found that lower vitamin C levels were associated with a higher BMI, larger waist circumference, and increased percentage in body fat (35).

Studies indicate that zinc, a nutrient found in natto, can help control childhood obesity (11).

Bottom Line: Natto contains several nutrients that can help individuals manage their weight and reduce instances of obesity.

11. Natto is beneficial to pregnant women and their offspring

Natto is rich in fiber, and scientists have found that higher intake of dietary fiber in pregnant women can significantly reduce the risk of preeclampsia (36).

Natto is also rich in iron, and research indicates that iron deficiency in pregnant women can result in sepsis, low birth weight, as well as increased risk of mortality for both mother and child (16).

Studies also show that a deficiency in iron is the leading cause of anemia in pregnant women (16).

Natto also contains zinc, and scientists have shown that a deficiency in zinc in pregnant women can diminish the growth and development of the fetus (11). In addition, infants with a zinc deficiency often exhibit impaired growth and development.

Research also shows that zinc can help the mother during labor (37). A deficiency in zinc during labor leads to prolonged labor, fetal death, or fetal growth restriction.

The presence of copper in natto means that the superfood can help prevent and manage Menkes disease, which is a result of copper deficiency (38). Menkes disease is fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects newborns, but it can be treated by increasing the copper status of the infant.

Studies also show that a low status in selenium and copper, both found in natto, in pregnant women is often associated with early pregnancy loss (37). In addition, research shows that higher intake of selenium as well as zinc can help prevent preeclampsia in pregnant women.

Scientific studies also show that selenium and copper play an integral role in preventing fetal growth restriction (37).

Natto also contains manganese, and studies show that the element is important in preventing oxidative damage in the placenta (37). In addition, the element can also help reduce the risk of fetal growth restriction.

Vitamin C, also found in natto, has been shown to prevent morbidity of both mother and child (38).

Bottom Line: Natto contains several nutrients that can help promote the health of pregnant women and their offspring. Deficiencies in these nutrients can have adverse effects on the outcome of the pregnancy.

12. Natto can help improve mood, as well as reduce anxiety and depression

As a rich source of dietary fiber, natto can help boost moods, and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression (20).

Natto also contains adequate amounts of carbohydrates, and studies have shown that diets low in carbohydrates are linked to increased risk of depression (39). This is because the triggering of happy hormones such as tryptophan and serotonin is dependent on carbohydrate rich foods such as natto.

Natto is also a protein rich food, and scientific studies have shown that amino acids such as tyrosine and tryptophan are responsible for the manufacture of dopamine and serotonin respectively (39). A deficiency in these two amino acids will lead to poor moods and increased aggression.

Natto also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Scientific research shows that a lower intake of these fatty acids significantly increases the risk of depression (39).

Natto is rich in vitamin B6, thiamin, folate and riboflavin, all of which can help improve moods in both men and women significantly (39).

Natto features calcium, selenium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, all of which are essential in reducing depression, and anxiety (39).

Natto also has a rich supply of iron, and scientific research has shown low iron levels increase the risk of anxiety, clumsiness, depression, ADD, ADHD, and mid-life mood changes (40).

Bottom Line: Natto contains a host of minerals, vitamins, fiber, and carbohydrates that play a significant role in improving mood, and preventing/treating anxiety or depression.

13. Natto can help accelerate wound healing

As mentioned before, natto contains a significant amount of zinc. Scientific studies have demonstrated that a deficiency in the mineral often results in poor/delayed wound healing (41).

Natto also contains iron, and studies show that the element is crucial in proper wound healing

especially in chronic cases (42).

Furthermore, natto contains high levels of vitamin C, and it is an established scientific fact that the vitamin is involved in all stages of wound healing (8, 43). Deficiency in the vitamin can affect the process of wound healing significantly.

Bottom Line: Natto contains several nutrients that are critical to the process of wound healing.

14. Natto can help in promoting muscle health

Natto contains potassium, and scientists have found a positive link between the mineral and improved muscle function, prevention of muscle disorders, prevention of cramps, and promoting muscular strength (44).

In addition, the Japanese traditional food also contains high levels of magnesium, which research shows is essential in promoting healthy muscle function by having a direct impact on muscle contraction and relaxation (45).

Calcium, another nutrient found in natto, is highly involved in muscle function, maintaining optimum muscle mass, and is required for the regular maintenance of muscles (46).

Natto also contains iron, whose deficiency in the body results in muscle stress, and a significant spike in lactic acid. An increase in lactic acid reduces endurance and performance, as well as encourages muscle pain.

Increase in intake of iron can also help prevent or manage fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by severe muscular pain, and fatigue.

Natto is also the only food that contains the enzyme, nattokinase, and studies show that the enzyme can help prevent fibromyalgia as well as muscle spasms (5).

Bottom Line: Natto contains numerous nutrients that are important in maintaining and improving muscle health, as well as preventing muscle deterioration.

15. Natto can help improve or prevent respiratory conditions

Natto is rich in magnesium, and a variety of scientific studies have shown that the mineral has therapeutic effects on respiratory conditions such as asthma (47).

Furthermore, the food also contains folate, which is known to help reduce homocysteine levels (48). Excessive levels of homocysteine are a risk factor for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Scientists have also found that a deficiency in folate is a significant risk factor for asthma and shortness of breaths in adults.

Natto also contains substantial amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, and scientists have found that these fatty acids can help prevent or manage Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (49).

Studies also indicate that these fatty acids may have the potential of preventing asthma in children.

Bottom Line: Natto contains several nutrients such as folate, fatty acids, and magnesium, all of which play essential roles in the prevention of respiratory diseases.

Tasty and Healthy Natto Recipes

1. Natto Coffee Jelly

This sweet and delicious snack will take you at least 3 hours and 15 minutes to prepare and cook (50). The meal requires three hours for the gelatin to fully set, and 15 minutes to cook. The beauty of this dish is that you get all the nutrients from the natto without having to suffer the sliminess and smell of it. The coffee jelly does a great job of masking these features.

This snack can serve four individuals. Please note that if you cannot find powdered coffee jelly or a packaged version of it, then you can use instant coffee as a substitute.

Ingredients

· 2 packets of Natto

· Bread (optional)

· A cup of whipping cream

· 4 tablespoons of sugar

· ½ cup of coffee flavored jelly powder/ packaged coffee jelly/ instant coffee

· 2 ½ cups of water

Preparation

Boil the water, and then pour in the coffee flavored powder, while the pot is still over the fire. Stir until all of the powder has completely dissolved.

Pour in the natto into the powder mixture and stir until the natto is evenly distributed. Remove the pot from the fire.

Cool the mixture by pouring it into a cake pan of your desired size.

Place the cake pan in the refrigerator, and let it stay there for at least three hours. This will guarantee that the gelatin has set.

Turn your attention to the whipped cream. pour the whipping cream into a bowl and mix in the four tablespoons of sugar. Mix thoroughly to avoid any lumps.

After the three hours are up, remove the cake pan from the fridge. Place the slices of bread on the countertop, and make sandwiches using the natto mixture, bread slices, and the whipped cream.

2. Natto Fried Rice

This is a basic, highly nutritious, and cost effective meal. Despite its highly nutritious profile, natto has an off-putting smell and texture. The fried rice is an effective way of hiding these unpleasant qualities, without diminishing the nutritional value of natto (51). This recipe is fit for 4 to 6 individuals.

Ingredients

2 packets of fresh/thawed natto

Unprocessed soy sauce

4 pasteurized/free range eggs

2 tablespoons of sesame oil

4 tablespoons of coconut oil

4 cups of cooked cold rice (preferably leftover rice that you have stored in the fridge)

A cup of frozen peas or a bunch of chopped onions

Procedure

Beat the eggs in a bowl. In a separate bowl, pour in the packets of natto, and stir thoroughly. This will ensure that the natto thickens. Pour in the beaten eggs.

Coat the surface of a skillet with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil over medium heat. Add the two tablespoons of sesame oil, and let the oil heat for a minute or two.

When the oil is hot, pour in the natto-egg mixture, and allow it to cook until the egg is thoroughly done. Remove the mixture from fire and let it rest for a while.

Pour the remaining tablespoons of coconut oil into the frying pan, and adjust the fire to medium.

Let the oil heat for at least a minute. Begin to add handfuls of the cold rice into the skillet. Ensure that there are no lumps using a wooden spoon.

Allow the rice to heat in this manner, for two or three minutes. In the meantime, quickly chop the onions or peas, and add them to the skillet. Continue stirring as the mixture heats up, and when the onions/peas are hot, add the natto-egg mixture.

Serve immediately the entire mixture is hot. Use the recommended soy sauce to season this healthy and tasty dish.

3. Natto with Pork and tofu

The Japanese refer to this dish as the Mabo natto tofu (52). This nutritious recipe will serve four individuals. It includes a healthy serving of tofu, pork, and natto.

Ingredients

A pack of natto

1 average-sized tofu

1 average eggplant

Potato starch that has been diluted in water

A small green pepper

1 tablespoon of ginger

5.5 ounces of ground pork

2 tablespoons of unpasteurized soy sauce

¼ of an onion

3 tablespoons of sugar

2 ounces of leek

3 tablespoons of oyster sauce

1 tablespoon of chili bean paste

3 tablespoons of oil

Procedure

Wash and drain the tofu. Snap it into large pieces using only your hand. Take the vegetables, i.e. leek, onion, green pepper, and eggplant, and cut them into desired sizes. Cut the packet of natto into small pieces, and then mince the ginger. Also part of the preparation is mixing the soy sauce, chili bean paste, sugar, and oyster sauce in a small bowl.

Now that all the preparation is complete, it is time to cook. Put the tablespoons of oil in a medium sized pan over medium heat.

When the oil is hot, put in the tofu, and the vegetables. Let them cook for a brief period, and then put in the ground pork. Saute the pork until it is almost completely cooked. Stir often to prevent any of the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the frying pan.

As the pork continues to cook, put in the large pieces of natto. Stir as you pour in the flavoring ingredients, i.e. oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, minced ginger, and chili bean paste. Stir well, and let the flavoring ingredients soak into the rest of the dish.

The final step is to add the potato starch. This is the glue responsible for holding everything together. You can pour a small portion of sesame oil on to the dish right before serving.

4. Natto no Age Yaki

This is a very popular dish in different parts of Japan, more so in Kanto and Shizuoka (53). The recipe produces a Tofu-natto fried sandwich, ideal for a snack. This recipe calls for the use of aburaage, which is basically tofu pouches that have been deep fried. You can make the pouches yourself, or you can purchase them fresh from a Japanese market.

Alternatively, you can buy the deep fried tofu pouches already packed. If they are packaged, they either come alone or in brine. Your purchase will be determined by your preference.

Ingredients

A pack of natto

Green onions (leeks)

Sesame oil

Unpasteurized soy sauce

Aburaage

Mustard

Chilli (preferably fresh)

Procedure

Chop the leeks into small pieces and put them in a bowl.

Add some natto to the leeks, as well as some soy sauce, mustard paste, the sesame oil, and the chilli. Mix all the ingredients well, and let the different flavors transfuse with one another. The result should be a sticky mixture.

The next step is to prepare the Aburaage. If you have purchased it fresh or packaged without brine, then simply cut off its top edge. However, if you bought it stored in brine, you need to pour the brine and discard it. Next, place the pieces on top of kitchen towels, and hold some paper towels on top of the pieces. Press gently to drain any remaining brine. Cut the top edge of every piece once all the brine has been drained.

Using a sharp knife, carefully insert the tip of the knife into each Aburaage piece using the cut-out edge as an entry point. Carve out a deep pocket.

Fill each pocket with the natto-leek mixture. Close the pocket by using a toothpick to lock the entry point.

Place each pocket in a frying pan and fry them. You will only need to use oil if the aburaage came stored in brine.

Once the pockets are ready, remove from pan and place them on a plate. Cut them in half and serve.

5. Fried Natto & Daikon

This is a highly nutritious, spicy and delicious meal fit for sharing with friends and family. The recipe will produce a meal that can be shared amongst three people (54).

Ingredients

2 packs of natto

10 cm long Daikon

1 tablespoon of mirin or sweet sake

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

Shichimi Togarashi

Tare sauce

Preparation

Peel the daikon, and then cut it into 2-cm long square portions. Combine the natto with the tare sauce, and set the mixture aside.

Put some oil in a skillet, and let it heat up. Once hot, add the daikon portions, and adjust the fire to medium.

pour in the natto-tare mixture when the daikon become translucent. Lower the fire, and continue to stir the mixture well. let the mixture cook until the natto is no longer sticky.

Add the mirin and the soy sauce, and continue to mix. Finally add the Shichimi, mix, and then serve with either Japanese sake or your favorite beer.

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