Natto Fried Rice: Nutrient Dense Meal on the Cheap

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist


The silver lining of the economic doldrums of recent years is that people are getting back to basics as a result of the hardships and the importance of cooking meals at home is making a huge comeback for many families.

Fortunately, even if a family is on government assistance, whole, local foods can be purchased at farmer’s markets and even healthfood stores with Food Stamps.

In addition, even the tightest of food budgets can easily include one of the most nourishing and cheap foods on the planet – natto.

Natto is a form of fermented soybean that, at least in my local area, is only available at Asian supermarkets in the frozen section.

Natto goes for about $3 for a small container and a little goes a very long way!

Including natto with a simple and very cheap meal of fried rice turns the meal into a powerhouse of nutrition in the form of vitamin K2, the elusive Activator X written about by Dr. Weston A. Price DDS which he found through research to be responsible in large part for the vibrant health of Traditional Societies.

Natto is rich in Vitamin K2 which supercharges mineral absorption in the body and boosts the effectiveness of the other fat soluble vitamins, most notably A and D.

The problem with natto is that the smell, taste and texture can be quite challenging to get used to.  Hiding it in a dish of fried rice is therefore the best way to go to successfully include it in the diet on a frequent basis.

The following recipe for natto fried rice is a modification of the one found in the book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox by Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, Bsc., ND – undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve read of late.

Please note that you cannot substitute tempeh or tofu for the natto.  The fermentation of natto is what produces the high amounts of Vitamin K2 (in the form of MK7).  Other forms of soybeans do not contain this nutrient in such large amounts if at all.

Natto Fried Rice

natto fried riceServes 4-6 people


2 containers of natto, thawed

4 beaten eggs, preferably locally sourced free range or pastured

4 TBL expeller coconut oil

2 tsp sesame oil

4 cups leftover cooked white or brown rice (cold from the refrigerator is best)

1 bunch of chopped green onions or 1 cup frozen peas

Traditionally fermented, unpasteurized soy sauce


In a bowl, stir natto briefly to thicken.  Mix in beaten eggs.

Add 2 TBL coconut oil to a frypan and coat the surface evenly.  Add sesame oil, turn the burner on medium and let heat for 1 minute.   Add the egg/natto mixture and saute until the egg is completely cooked.  Remove egg/natto mixture from the pan and set aside.

Add another 2 TBL of coconut oil to the frypan and add handfuls of the cold, cooked rice working out the lumps with your fingers.

Saute the rice until hot and then add the chopped green onions or peas.  Saute for a minute or two until hot and then add the egg and natto mixture to the pan as well.

Once the entire dish is hot, serve natto fried rice immediately and season to taste at the table with the unpasteurized soy sauce.

Refrigerate any natto leftovers.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Picture Credit



Comments (44)

  1. Natto is natural source of Vit K2. I have begun eating natto daily. I am an adventurous eater! I chop up green onion on top of a little natto and pour a little bone broth over it, add a few pieces of nori and some celtic salt and just go for it.

  2. I did want to add that if you like some of the more aged cheeses, you should like natto. I think what puts people off is the sticky, slimy texture more than the flavor–natto really looks kind of “snotty” and it’s very sticky. However, the flavor to me is very reminiscent of cheese. It’s a fermented food, after all, but it’s really delicious.

    Try it on toast with a slice of cheese if you have a toaster oven. Or toast up some mochi (Japanese glutenous rice “cake” or dough) and serve with nori and natto. All yummy combinations, I promise!

  3. I lived in northern Japan for two years and love, love, love natto. It’s hard to get where I live in Virginia now, but it was my go-to breakfast of choice in Japan … I’ll admit, my favorite way to eat it was with a raw, farm-fresh egg beaten in over steamed rice right out of the steamer. A little bit of hot mustard, a dash of mustard, and a sprinkling of green onions and that was a breakfast of champions right there. :)

  4. My husband and I plan on moving to Japan soon – probably within the next year – and I’ve been very interested in trying Japanese foods. (besides sushi) Thanks for the recipe, although now I’m a little bit scared of it after reading the comments 😉 I’ll try anything once, though! If I can handle balut in the Philippines surely I can manage some natto.

  5. I have been avoiding soybean and any products that contains it like the plague because of the aluminum content due to the genetically modified seed. Do we know where the Natto soybean comes from? If you make it yourself, aren’t you most likely to get the genetically modified version?

  6. Yeah Sarah! I remember your other post about natto and the fact that I lived in Japan for fourteen years and never grew to like natto made me give it another try. Yum! My Japanese ex-husband told me that you can make your own natto cheaply by cooking up soybeans and mixing them with part of a container of natto. I tried it and let it incubate in my oven with the light on and 24 hours later we had natto. Save a portion to make the next batch. The cooked soybeans have to be hot for the culture to ferment. Try it!

  7. Does miso confer the same benefit as natto does? I cannot find natto in a 50-mile radius but am able to get miso over the interwebs.

  8. I have begun eating natto daily. It is a challenge for sure! And I am an adventurous eater! I chop up green onion on top of a little natto and pour a little bone broth over it, add a few pieces of nori and some celtic salt and just go for it. It is getting easier after a few weeks. Yesterday I introduced a friend to natto. She is not an adventurous eater at all but she was interested in all the health benefits. I was sure she would gag. She stirred it up with the little packets of seasoning and took a big mouthful and said she liked it! And ate the whole thing!
    I am wondering if cooking the natto destroys some of the health benefits (just like cooking yogurt or kefir or cultured vegetables) since it is a live fermented food. I have read how many people just add it to hot rice but do not cook it first.

  9. Sometimes you can find natto at sushi places; I’ve had it with a raw quail egg and toasted nori. I really like it with a little umeboshi plum.The restaurant fermented their own soybeans so it was really fresh and there was almost no smell at all! Anyone have any ideas on how to ferment the soy beans and make natto from scratch?

  10. Hi Sarah,
    Sounds good to me, but my wife on the other hand is a little picky. She recently (last week) had a bout of ‘pancreatitus’ and is now really trying to make good diet/nutrition decisions. She had her gall bladder out two years ago so I believe this last bout was due to some poor dietary habits. Having said that, do you think this Natto dish is a good idea for her, being that she has to be cautious for digestion purposes?

  11. I spent three years in Japan and regrettably never tried natto. I didn’t find out about it until reading your blog a while back. This sounds like a great idea to try!! I bet it would be so good with a side of tsukemono (the recipe in NT is great).

    • Natto is only popular in some areas of Japan. Interestingly, the areas where natto is consumed frequently have a lower hip fracture rate in the elderly than the areas where natto is not consumed … indicating perhaps the benefits of K2 which supercharges calcium uptake into the bones.

    • Definitely get organic if you can … but if not, yes, GMO is a big risk. I think the decision on whether or not to take the risk comes down to budget. If a family is on food stamps and is really struggling perhaps conventional meat and chickens is the only thing they can afford. Natto would fall under this same premise. Get the best you can afford but if what you can afford is extremely limited, choose nutrition first over trying to stay “clean”. Nutrition is more important than being green in desperate situations. The body can handle toxins when it is nourished. Staying away from everything that is bad at the expense of nutrition will result in illness anyway with nothing gained by that approach in the long run.

  12. Even though traditionally fermented Natto is on the list of “good” soyfoods approved for modest consumption by WAPF, I cannot stand the taste, or smell, or awful texture. And I like most fermented foods.

    I instinctively feel that anything that tastes and smells so disgusting cannot be good for me, but the science says otherwise. Nevertheless, I will stick to gouda cheese (thanks for the tip, Sarah), pastured butter, fermented dairy, organ meats and animal fat for my K2.

    Sometimes the gag factor cannot be overcome, but this recipe may well do it.

    Sarah, do you have any tips for dealing with the smell?

  13. Thank you Sarah for including white rice and not just brown in keeping with that great post you did on “What? White Rice Better Than Brown.”

  14. Natto can be difficult to consume in the beginning especially if you don’t currently eat any fermented foods. After a few years of homemade Kefir and a daily dose of fermented cod liver oil my kids and i have no problems with natto (finally) but my husband cannot abide it. He doesn’t eat fermented foods. We have never cooked with natto but it is our experience that if you mix natto into rice all you end up with is more natto flavored rice! but we will give this recipe a try. maybe heating it up with egg will not make the flavor spread so it takes over the entire dish. My Japanese friends chop the natto up and mix it with the mustard and seasoning pack that come with it and green onion. they say it is easier to absorb the nutrition if you mash it up first.

    • Sometimes MSG can be lurking in the seasoning packet that comes separately with the natto package, so I suggest making your own sauce using soy sauce, fish sauce, mustard, or like someone suggested below, mayo.

  15. Pingback: Natto Fried Rice: Nutrient Dense Meal on the Cheap | CookingPlanet

  16. Thanks for this recipe idea. I bet Red Boat traditionally fermented fish sauce would be amazing with it too, along with or instead of soy sauce. It’s my new favorite condiment, and a little goes a long way with it as well. Do you have any tips on untoasted, unrefined sesame oil brands?


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