Welcome back to another edition of I try it so you don’t have to. The title sums it up nicely, I try things that are odd, gross or just plain weird so you can decide for yourself if you want to give it a shot. On that note I am always looking for suggestions so if you have seen something on a plate on a shelf or on your TV that you are curious about, let me know in the comments and I will add it to the list. This week I am trying Natto, based on a friends recommendation, though I’m not sure if she recommended it because she liked it or wanted me to taste it for her own curiosity and amusement.
When I was shopping for natto I was really intrigued by the packaging, neat little individual serving size foam trays with shrink wrap holding it all together.
Each little package is one serving of fermented soybeans and a couple packets of sauce, one soy based and one mustard based. The tiny boxes and packages have a sense of order than put an odd little smile on my face, I’m not sure what that says about me.
And then I peeled off the wax paper layer and all my smiles were gone. Just peeling off that layer released a smell that was not at all pleasant. It was an earthy, footy, cheesy blend that wanted to be sharp like good blue cheese but really settled for a nasty funky scent like, well like bad blue cheese. And the stringy gooeyness that doesn’t depart for the rest of the review made its first appearance as well.
Each twirl of the chopsticks just increased the stringy viscosity of these bacterial beans. The traditional serving style is to add the soy based sauce and mustard to the beans, mix well and then serve over hot rice. I wanted to try them in their pure and unadulterated form. Dealing with the long strands of goo in and of themselves makes it a challenge to eat, the smell and slime did not help. I found the taste exceptionally bitter and funky, the bitterness was on par with an over roasted raw coffee bean the texture was if that bean had subsequently soaked in swamp water until it was mush. OK time to spice this stuff up with its intended condiments. In went the mustard and the soy and was mixing time. Let me set something straight here, everything I read prior to tasting said to mix this stuff up, before serving.For me stirring was a mistake. It’s like agitation somehow turned on the mucous factory that was contained in this little foam cup. The video kind of sums it up.
It readily went from looking like a reasonable facsimile of baked beans to a mucous coated disaster with just a few stirs. The flavor did get a bit better but for all the improvement in flavor the texture was even worse. It left a coating in my mouth that felt as if I had just run several miles after a night of drinking low quality tequila. Water just made it slimier which I didn’t think was possible. After fully scrubbing my face and brushing my teeth I was finally free of natto’s clingy tendrils of awful. OK that might be a bit of an overstatement but if you had not gathered already, I would put this is the “you don’t have to” category.