Natto Spaghetti
Natto spaghetti is a very Japanese version of a non-traditional food.
Spaghetti Napolitan is an example of the Japanese imitating Western spaghetti. It was invented after World War II in Yokohama at the Hotel New Grand where GHQ (including General MacArthur) were staying. A chef was attempting to serve some Western-like foods when he came up with the idea of making spaghetti with ketchup. Wafuu pasuta or wafuu supagetti is popular in homes and kissaten (small cafés) all over Japan.
The concept of wafu spaghetti expanded in the 70’s when foods that are usually eaten with white rice were mixed into or put on top of spaghetti.

One of the most delicious recipes I have seen,
mentaiko spaghetti, is made with tarako (salted pollock roe), or mentaiko (spicy pollock roe). Add butter, soy sauce, nori, green onions, and shiso and you’ll have a familiar but exotic meal.

Getting into the spirit, my hijiki and shiitake spaghetti began with the classic hijiki gohan —rice with sea vegetable. It’s a simple dish which could be made with pantry staples. Shichimi togarashi adds spice, and mirin, sweetness. Peas and carrots add color.

Spaghetti with walnut miso sauce began with
Kurumi-miso-ae, a dressing usually used on vegetables.

Natto spaghetti is my first time tasting natto, the slimy stringy fermented soybeans unique to Japan. I really enjoyed it, but Mr. Tess did not dig in with as much delight as I. There were leftovers, and they waited in the fridge, developing slithery-ness, so much so that I’ll admit this was one of the very few times I could not finish a plate of pasta.

Natto Spaghetti
for one

  • 1 small container of natto
  • 2 green onions, sliced into thin rings
  • 2 or 3 shiso leaves, chiffonaded
  • a small piece of nori, cut into thin strips
  • 2 or 3 umeboshi
  • butter melted with soy sauce
  • capellini (don’t make more than you can eat in one sitting!)

Prepare the green onions, shiso, nori, and butter-shoyu. Bring a large pot of salted water to a vigorous boil and cook the pasta. Stir up the natto until it develops a good strong string factor, add the mustard and soy flavor packages, mix well. Toss in most of the green onion and shiso (reserve some for garnish). Drain pasta, stir in the butter soy mixture to keep the pasta from sticking together. Put the pasta into a shallow bowl and top with the natto. Mix the central strands with the beans—it’s just me, but I like to see all the separate colors so I left the noodles unmixed around the edges of the bowl. Garnish with the nori and umeboshi in the center, reserved green onions and shiso scattered. Enjoy.

Bach’s Chaconne from Partita No. 2 for Solo Violin in D minor
Itzhak Perlman
Hilary Hahn

6 thoughts on “Natto Spaghetti

  1. Hey Tess,
    Having lived and traveled to Japan frequently, over the years I have learned a little secret. I’m not the only one who hates natto. There are actually Japanese who hate it as well. Nothing against fermented foods, but natto is just plain old wrong. Especially in the hot sticky months of the Japanese summer. But bring on the mentaiko spaghetti, and all of those other delightful wafu spaghettis served at those wonderful little kissaten shops.

    • Oh Karla I am sure that not all Japanese love natto. I’m surprised that I liked it! Well, I liked it the first day but even the chill of my fridge didn’t prevent it from continuing on it’s way to perfect sliminess. I will try not to think about what natto could do on a sticky summer day in Japan. Open the package, stir it up, and eat it quick!
      But I’m always up for a plate of some clever wafu spaghetti.

  2. Not only did I not “dig in with as much delight as” Tessie, but I only ate about half of what was served to me. That’s a bit less unusual than one of the waves on Lake Superior (our beautiful inland sea) stopping halfway to the beach, but I will try natto again; always willing to suffer for Tess’s art.

  3. Mrs Tess and Mr. Tess,
    Not a slimy issue here… I LOVE okra! I just have a problem with rotting foods. Pickles are one thing, hideous slimy strings of rottenness is another. But go figure. I will eat the gnarliest aged French cheese known to mankind… hideous smell, and all. Yum.
    The Japanese HATE aged cheese.

  4. Hi, just dropped by.
    Haven’t gone through all your posts yet, so forgive me if I sound stupid.
    You should try natto with kimchi, dropping an egg yolk on it. Mix them all together with the spaghetti before you eat.
    I am Japanese, but I confess, I do not like natto, so trust me! The natto kimchi spaghetti is a must try!! It’s so easy too… only 4 ingredients and you don’t even need to cut up anything.
    I think that’s the only way I would ever eat natto. So I’m not trying your recipe here. Ha!!

    • Hi Rita S

      Cute cute!
      You must keep in mind that no one who reads my blog can ever be stupid: each and every any one is a treasure.
      Only the best folk read my blog. ≥^!^≤

      I absolutely agree: natto needs to be eaten with something strongly flavored.
      Natto kimchi spaghetti sounds pretty good! Natto, spaghetti, kimchi, and egg yolk. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s