Natto is typically made using soy beans, but seeing as we can’t have that, I’ve tried making it using red beans. I feel that chickpeas (garbanzo beans) might come closer to the texture and feel of soy beans in this application but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it with red beans.
The recipe calls for steaming the beans first. Pressure steaming greatly speeds up the process so that’s what I did. About 45 minutes at high pressure in my stovetop pressure cooker.
After that, I let it cool to below 40 degC and then added the powdered Natto bacteria culture. After it was thoroughly mixed in, I put the mixture into a shallow Pyrex baking dish, flattened out the beans in the dish and covered it with plastic wrap (touching the beans). The mix goes into the oven, and our Samsung oven is set to the “proof” setting (typically used for proofing wheat-based breads before baking).
This is the mixture after 12 hours overnight.
The above result is after 36 hours. 24 hours was not enough to get the stickyness so I left it in for another overnight period.
The stuff is pretty stinky. I am used to the soy Natto smell but this is quite different. If you know what red bean smells like on its own, you can actually get an idea of what the natto bacteria itself smells like.
On its own, the taste is quite neutral (I.e. not having much of a taste in and of itself) besides a slight bitterness. The texture is essentially like a slimy bean, with a slight grittyness mixed with the slimyness. The red bean texture isn’t as pleasing as a soy texture. Maybe chickpeas is the way to go?
Overall, Growing the natto culture on the red beans was a success, but I think red beans isn’t quite the right bean for Natto.
Ramen pork broth is famously milky white, and I wanted a way to make the broth without having to go through the trouble of blanching and scrubbing the bones, then keeping the broth at a rolling boil until it was done. I’ve found a way to do it without, yet get the milkyness and extract the full flavour of the bones. Here’s how I do it.
3 lbs pork bones*
10 L water*
Place the bones on a sheet pan, spread out so they’re not all touching. Turn on the oven broiler and put the pan on the rack about 10″ or so below the top heater element. Roast the pork bones in the oven under the broiler until they are nicely browned on all sides. This takes about 30-45 minutes, turning the bones over about halfway through.
Put the bones in a large stock pot and fill it up with water. Bring the pot of water and bones to a boil, then reduce to a simmer or even slightly less. Cover the pot and let it cook for 10-20 hours. I do this over two overnight sessions, leaving the bones and water to cool down in the pot during the day.
Once the broth is finished cooking, there will be a good layer of fat on the top of the golden yellow broth. Skim off the fat into a blender, and place another 2-4 cups of the broth into the blender.
Blend the broth and fat on high or max for one (1) minute. The resulting liquid in the blender will be milky white and bubbly.
Pour the blender mixture back into the stock pot with the rest of the broth and mix it all together.
Strain broth out using a sieve (I don’t bother to use a cheesecloth/fine mesh sieve/tea towel) to remove the larger chunks of meat and bone. Add the broth to soups, drink it plain with a few pinches of salt, or use it to accompany your favourite soup noodles.
* This is the ratio I generally use. Feel free to use more or fewer bones to the amount of water.