Wanpaku Foods LLC is a Portland-based maker of traditional Japanese natto. In Japanese “wanpaku” is used endearingly to describe a naughty or mischievous child. Wanpaku Foods is owned by fermentation teacher, Heidi Nestler, and her two sons, Ranmu and Joi Fukushima both of whom were adventurous wanpaku themselves when they were young boys running around the Japanese countryside.
what is natto?
Natto is a traditional Japanese food made by fermenting soybeans with a starter culture, Bacillus subtilis. In Japan, it is typically served for breakfast along with rice, miso soup, pickles and maybe some grilled fish. Known for its health benefits, uniquely sticky viscosity, and (some would say) funky aroma, natto is often assumed to be an acquired taste. However, Heidi has found over the years, as with many fermented foods, natto evokes an almost ancient nostalgia, even if trying it for the first time. Wanpaku Natto has a milder taste that appeals to a wider range of people including many children and non-Japanese who are either new to natto or had tried it before and didn't like it. The flavor of natto is hard to describe. Some have found it reminiscent of ripe cheese, while others describe it as vaguely nutty or detect notes of coffee.
health and wellness
Non-fermented soy (in the form of soy milk, soy protein, etc) can be a problematic food. This is well understood in Asia, where the soybean has been a long-standing part of the diet. Traditionally, soybeans have been fermented (e.g. Tempeh, miso, soy sauce, natto) thus transforming them into healthy, protein-rich staples which are easier for the body to digest and assimilate. And, especially in the case of natto, so much unique goodness emerges from the fermentation process, it is often touted as a superfood. Natto contains:
Vitamin K2, which is important for bone health and works synergistically with Vitamin D. K2 is hard to obtain in the modern diet and natto represents an important plant-based source.
Vitamin PQQ, which is important for beautiful skin.
And the enzyme Nattokinase, which is important for cardiovascular health.
how to prepare NATTO
Place the natto in a bowl and stir vigorously with chopsticks 200 times, or two minutes. Season with a little soy sauce or tamari. Top with chopped green onions and serve with rice, noodles, or on its own.
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