Natto Fried Rice: Nutrient Dense Meal on the Cheap

by Sarah Main Course, RecipesComments: 44


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)

  • Bella Bells

    You mean, natto is rich in vitamin K? Haven’t tried natto, though. Is it easy to make?

    June 13th, 2012 6:17 am Reply
  • Mary@FitandFed

    I’ve heard of natto but this is the first recipe using it that I’ve seen, interesting. One question: you say this is the only vegan source of Vit K, but what about greens, they are a very rich source, yes? And some other vegetables and berries? As here:

    March 17th, 2012 10:44 am Reply
  • crazy4boys

    I’ve never heard of natto but will gladly give it a try. Please include more recipes like this – nutrient dense but inexpensive.

    March 1st, 2012 3:35 am Reply
  • Kate

    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.

    February 13th, 2012 10:02 pm Reply
    • SJ

      I have yet to find a source of natto. Where do you get it?

      November 20th, 2012 12:04 pm Reply
  • .tif

    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!

    February 11th, 2012 11:34 am Reply
  • .tif

    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. :)

    February 11th, 2012 11:32 am Reply
  • Kelli

    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.

    February 9th, 2012 12:31 pm Reply
  • tina

    I’m with Stanley, I’d rather eat gouda, grass-fed butter and liver than ever eat natto again (yes, I’ve tried it.)

    February 9th, 2012 9:40 am Reply
  • Glenda

    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?

    February 9th, 2012 7:16 am Reply
  • Noreen


    Is this recipe with the Rice in it? I have had Diabetes before. What about the person with Celiac?

    February 9th, 2012 12:58 am Reply
  • Michele

    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!

    February 8th, 2012 8:58 pm Reply
  • Jessie

    do you use toasted sesame oil or plain sesame oil in the recipe.

    February 8th, 2012 6:58 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Either one. I prefer toasted but some folks find the flavor rather strong.

      February 8th, 2012 7:52 pm Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        The toasted sesame oil is also better for covering up the taste of the natto! LOL

        February 8th, 2012 7:52 pm Reply
  • Bonnie

    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.

    February 8th, 2012 3:20 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      No, miso has very little K2 in in. Although, miso is wonderful and I do use it in my cooking.

      February 8th, 2012 6:49 pm Reply
  • alicia gromicko

    Love the Nutrient Dense Meal on the Cheap!!!!! Please send more!!!!! These are so important!

    February 8th, 2012 3:10 pm Reply
  • Tana

    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.

    February 8th, 2012 2:36 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      No, cooking natto does not destroy any K2!!!!! Yippie!

      February 8th, 2012 9:31 pm Reply
  • Charis Wolf

    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?

    February 8th, 2012 2:06 pm Reply
    • Tana

      you can find recipes for making natto on the internet. It seems fairly simple. I am getting ready to try it myself.

      February 8th, 2012 2:38 pm Reply
  • Peter

    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?

    February 8th, 2012 1:57 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Natto is very easy to digest. But, it might be tough to get her to eat it if she’s picky. Might be best to go the MK7 supplement route here but that is expensive and this post is supposed to be about frugal nutrient dense choices :(

      February 8th, 2012 6:46 pm Reply
  • Sarah

    Should natto be avoided if there is a thyroid issue?

    February 8th, 2012 1:01 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Small amounts should be fine provided there is adequate iodine in the diet … lots of raw butter would be good here. But, if you feel instinctively that you should avoid it, then do so.

      February 8th, 2012 6:44 pm Reply
  • Ruth

    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).

    February 8th, 2012 11:37 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      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.

      February 8th, 2012 11:53 am Reply
  • Diane

    I’ve read lately that over 90% of soy is GMO. Unless we know where it comes from, should we still consume it?

    February 8th, 2012 12:32 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      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.

      February 8th, 2012 12:49 pm Reply
  • Stanley Fishman

    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?

    February 8th, 2012 12:29 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Stanley, I just love how to the point you are :) Your comments always make me smile. You are the best :)

      February 8th, 2012 12:40 pm Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        I don’t have any tips about the smell. How about turning on the fan over the stove ??? Pretty lame, I know :(

        February 8th, 2012 12:41 pm Reply
        • Stanley Fishman

          The kitchen fan might help, but I fear it will just move the smell to other parts of the house as well. Having a great sense of taste and smell is usually a blessing, but not in this case.

          February 8th, 2012 2:29 pm Reply
      • Stanley Fishman

        Thank you, Sarah. You have put many a smile on my face as well.

        February 8th, 2012 2:27 pm Reply
        • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          I’m glad. Making people smile is something I love to do :)

          February 8th, 2012 6:47 pm Reply
    • Michele

      I had a student in Japan who mixed her natto with mayonnaise to mellow out the flavor and smell. You might try that.

      February 8th, 2012 9:18 pm Reply
  • Mikki

    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.”

    February 8th, 2012 12:29 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I always use white basmati rice. Brown rice just doesn’t do it for my family.

      February 8th, 2012 12:39 pm Reply
  • Sally

    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.

    February 8th, 2012 12:25 pm Reply
    • Beth

      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.

      February 10th, 2012 1:41 pm Reply
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  • Beth

    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?

    February 8th, 2012 12:05 pm Reply
  • HealthyHomeEconomist (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon)

    Natto Fried Rice: Nutrient Dense Meal on the Cheap

    February 8th, 2012 11:07 am Reply

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