When people try natto for the first time, they usually love it or hate it.
This ancient Japanese dish is made from fermented soybeans and is high in vitamin K2 and fiber.
You probably eat natto often if you enjoy the strong smell and the umami flavor.
Perhaps you purchase frozen natto in bulk at an Asian market and store it in the freezer. But when it’s time to eat it, you might wonder, can you microwave natto?
You in fact can heat natto in the microwave, but only if you do it carefully. Read on to learn more.
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Do You Need to Microwave Natto?
Natto is one of those foods you can eat in many different ways.
While traditionally natto is a breakfast food, many add it to their lunch or dinner meals.
You can also choose whether to stir freshly bought natto to make it slimier and gooier or leave it the way it is.
But another way to enhance natto’s already robust flavor is to heat it.
You can pop it in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes or use the microwave for about 20 seconds.
If you have fresh, unfrozen natto, heating is optional and a matter of personal taste.
But if you have frozen natto, you do need to defrost it before eating.
So let’s look at how to go about the process in both scenarios.
Heating Natto in the Microwave
When buying fresh natto at an Asian market or any store that sells it, you’ll notice it comes in Styrofoam boxes.
Natto is densely packed and has protective plastic packaging.
This type of natto container usually comes with packets of sauce and mustard.
These ingredients are mixed with fermented soybeans, and that’s the most basic way to eat natto.
But you can also heat natto in a microwave before mixing to ensure the texture and flavor truly pop. It’s a simple enough process.
All you need to do is set your microwave at medium heat (400-500W) and the timer between 20-30 seconds.
Defrosting Natto in the Microwave
If you’re a big fan of natto, you probably buy in bulk whenever possible.
However, that means buying frozen natto, usually stored in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag.
If you’re not going to eat it right away, it’s essential to keep it in the freezer at home.
The process is similar to heating fresh natto in the microwave, but it takes double the time.
Therefore, set the microwave to 400-500W, put the frozen natto in a microwave-safe container, and let it defrost for about 40-60 seconds.
What’s the Best Way to Heat and Defrost Natto?
The microwave is the fastest option if you’re rushing to defrost your natto portion.
However, that’s not what most natto enthusiasts would advise.
The rapid temperature changes can compromise the texture quality and even take away some nutritional value.
When dealing with frozen natto, there are two better options to consider.
Defrosting Natto in the Fridge
Without a doubt, thawing frozen natto should take place in the fridge.
If you plan to eat natto for breakfast, leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
If you want natto for dinner, move it from the freezer to the fridge in the morning, and you’ll have fully defrosted it by the time you want to eat it.
This is the safest way to defrost natto.
Even if you don’t consume it when planned, being in the fridge slows the ongoing fermentation process.
Remember that leftovers should always go to the fridge, even when storing fresh natto, as natto will change flavor fast.
Defrosting Natto at Room Temperature
You now know the answer to the “Can you microwave natto?” answer is yes.
But what do you do if you want to avoid microwaving natto and don’t have time to let it defrost in the fridge?
You can take it out of the freezer, place it in a clean container, and leave it to thaw on the kitchen counter.
Defrosting natto at room temperature is faster, but you have to be careful not to let it sit outside too long.
If you leave natto on the counter for days, the fermentation will continue once it defrosts and eventually affects the taste.
Can you microwave natto? Yes, indeed you can.
But you must ensure it’s on a medium setting, only 20-30 seconds for fresh natto and around 40-60 seconds for frozen natto.
If possible, avoiding microwaving frozen natto is best, as leaving it to thaw naturally leads to better results.
However, heating fresh natto in the microwave is something many enjoy, as it adds to the stringiness and sliminess of the biofilm caused by fermentation.