History of major natto production center kicks off with the opening of railways
In Ibaraki Prefecture mainly around the city of Mito, there are more than 20 natto (fermented soybean) manufacturers creating a big natto production center. Its history dates back to 1889 when Mito Railways (JR Joban Line today) began operating its transportation services. Goro Sasanuma, a samurai-turned businessman based in Mito who mastered soybean fermentation techniques in Sendai began to sell natto on the train platforms and other spaces inside the station buildings as local gift items, which became a huge hit. Since then, natto established its name and fame as Mito’s local specialty. It is said that the idea to ferment soybeans spread first mainly around the Tohoku region. Compared to the natto produced in various parts of Tohoku that mainly use large-sized beans, the modern natto recipe established in Mito use smaller soybeans that are grown abundantly in the farmlands in Ibaraki Prefecture. Tengu Natto, the brand developed by the Sananuma family, is wrapped in a simple and lighthearted package, but what you find inside the pack is a highly sophisticated ensemble of very deep-flavored fermented soybeans. The locals also enjoy variations like soboro natto (natto mixed with dried radish) and hoshi natto (dried natto).
どう作って食べるか / HOW TO MAKE & EAT
❶Simmer small-sized soybeans and wrap the beans in straw called warazuto (straw wrapper).
❷Keep the straw-wrapped soybeans heated at 40℃ or higher for one or two days until the soybeans become stringy.
★Natto with soybeans fermented only by wild natto bacteria residing in warazuto currently cannot be sold as commercial products due to the risk of food poisoning.
As topping on steamed rice
As a snack or topping for ochazuke (rice with green tea) when processed as dried natto
As a side dish when processed as soboro natto
▶食べられている地域 / Regions where it is eaten
▶微生物の種類 / Types of microorganisms