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Fermentation, a centuries old technique originally used in Japan to preserve food, is renowned worldwide as a way to naturally enhance the flavors of ingredients and to increase nutrient availability. One classic fermented food in Japan is natto: gooey, sticky fermented soybeans. On its own, natto can be an acquired taste, yet Toyokuniya has transformed this traditional food into a delicious and savory rich paste which is a true local specialty.
Though most soybeans eaten in Japan were once produced domestically, almost 90% are now imported, as local Japanese farmers struggle to compete with cheaper, foreign-produced soybeans.
Toyokuniya grows an heirloom variety of domestic soybeans called “Tsukui soybean” which have become so rare they are known as “phantom soybeans.” Larger than regular soybeans, they have a rich flavor and high natural sweetness, lending to a nutty taste similar to chestnuts. Masahiro and Kayoko Okamoto, the owners of Toyokuniya, have three small children and this natto koji paste is the result of looking for creative and healthy ways to feed them. They hope their foods will inspire the next generation of farmers to continue producing this rare bean.
Suggested uses:Use as a topping on rice or in onigiri (rice balls), as a spread on toast or crackers with cream cheese, mixed with mayo or greek yogurt as a dip for vegetables, or added to marinades for chicken or fish.
DISCLAIMER: We provide ingredients and common allergens based on the packaging as a reference only. Please consume with caution based on your own individual health concerns as we cannot guarantee the presence or lack of certain ingredients, allergens and/or animal products.