Imagine biting into a freshly fried spring roll, its shell breaking off in crispy, golden-brown shards to a piping-hot center of natto beans. The taste is still distinctly natto-esque, but with a kind of maturity and softness that is really pleasant.
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For some eaters, natto belongs in the nasty bits category of vegetarian fare. Both beloved and reviled, the fermented soybeans are a staple in traditional Japanese cuisine. To make natto, soybeans are cooked for many hours, then inoculated with bacteria and left to ferment in a temperature-controlled fermentation room. But the smell of natto—like a cross between ammonia and rank Camembert cheese—can be off-putting to those without a love for funky tastes and smells.