Often compared to funky washed cheeses or stinky socks, nattō gets a bad rep in the smell department, but is undeniably packed with probiotics and protein, thus a perfect breakfast food to get you started on your day.

Nattō aficionados (including me) would take exception to the maligning descriptions of nattō's aroma or its sticky characteristic once whipped up to a wonderful slimy mass. We embrace its fermented nose and are addicted to its nutty, yet sharply complex flavors. The feat of guiding a tenuous clump of these lovely fermented beans from bowl to mouth can be daunting for the uninitiated, especially since the gossamer nattō "threads" created seem to take on a life of their own. But that, too, becomes a joy.

Freshly fermented, organic, small-batch nattō has a completely different profile from your run-of-the-mill mass-produced kind. A couple of decades ago, it was still possible to procure organic green, brown and black nattō at a local, upscale supermarket. No longer.