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What Makes Japanese Natto So Famously Sticky

natto beans
natto beans - beauty-box/Shutterstock

Natto, the fermented soybean dish you should try at least once, is a longstanding staple superfood in Japan. For those new to this delicious dish, however, you may need to acquire a taste for it first. People who don't love natto off the bat often say it's not the taste or smell that gets to them -- it's the foamy, slimy, and sticky texture. The sliminess reminds one of okra, and the sticky strings feel like spiderwebs. But the stickier, foamier, and slimier the soybeans, the better they are for you. So what exactly makes Japanese natto so famously sticky?

To make natto, soybeans go through a fermentation process involving bacteria (Bacillus subtilis) and the production of probiotics. The sticky stringiness of natto beans is part of a biofilm the probiotics and bacteria make to protect themselves and move through as they ferment the beans. During the fermentation process, natto also produces polyglutamic acid, a substance that adds to the stickiness.

Polyglutamic acid adds to the health benefits of natto, which include anticancer substances and skin hydration properties. Recently, people have even started using natto as part of their beauty regime, using the sticky beans as a moisturizer or face mask.

Read more: Restaurant Foods That Always Taste Better Than What You Make At Home

Stir And Whip Natto Until Even Stickier Before Enjoying

natto bean
natto bean - Ladanifer/Shutterstock

If you're ready to embrace natto beans in all its slimy, sticky glory, note that the Japanese often stir and whip the fermented soybeans first, making them even foamier and stickier before enjoyment. The Japanese believe this "activates" and enhances natto's health benefits and properties. To stir natto as the Japanese have done for centuries, take a pair of chopsticks and whip the fermented soybeans furiously until foamy, super slimy, and sticky. It's purported this makes the natto taste better and a little sweeter. In Japan, some will stir their natto over 300 times to get the maximal flavor out of them!

While natto has not yet made our lists as one of 28 popular foods that undergo fermentation or one of 20 superfoods to consider adding to your diet, we are positive this superfood will continue to grow in popularity in the U.S. and globally. Embracing the unique characteristics of natto may be the initial hurdle for many, but beyond the slimy stickiness lies a world of flavor and nutritional benefits waiting to be discovered.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.