Home made Natto (Fermented Soybeans)

Have you heard of, or even maybe TRIED, Natto (fermented soybeans)?

When you see it in Japanese or other Asian grocery stores, they come in a package of 3 little white, styrofoam boxes. It is usually served with rice in Japanese meals, most often breakfast. You stir it well to make it super stringy and slimy, add the tiny mustard and soy sauce packets that come with it, and pour everyting over hot rice. Then, you dig in!

It is for sure an acquired taste, even for those who grew up eating Japanese food. You either love it or loathe it. However, with all the fermented food craze lately, I read that it is added to everything, and I even saw it used to top a pizza! Now that is something I have to try! 😋

I prefer to use these small, organic soy beans when making natto and soy milk. The ones at the grocery stores are bigger, but are okay to use too.

So, in this post, I will show you how to make this super healthy, fermented food at home. In case you are like me and my mom, who happen to love natto, you can have an unlimited supply if you make it.

You will need an incubator that can keep a constant temperature of 100C. You can use an oven, a proofing box for bread making, or an Excalibur Dehydrator.

A few years ago, I purchased a Japanese Yogurt maker specifically because you can adjust the temperature, unlike the ones available here in the US. The brand is Tanika and it is really a handy little appliance that I always use to make my homemade natto. Of course, I also have an oven, an Excalibur dehydrator, and a Brod and Taylor Folding Bread Proofer, but I do not like warming up that much space for a little jar of natto. So this little yogurt maker is just perfect for me. Labels on the appliance and the manual are in Japanese but I recently saw some on Amazon that are made for the US market with English labels.

Just like yogurt, you need to buy a package first to be able to get the bacteria you need to make natto, then if you make it regularly, you just get a little from the prepared batch to make more. This is the easiest way to get started. Of course, you could also buy some natto spores to start the Bacillus Subtilis culture. Mitoku is the brand I use. It’s from Japan and makes really tasty natto. It comes with a tiny measuring spoon so you get a lot of natto even though the culture bottle is tiny.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups soybeans, preferably organic

Water

Store bought natto, or natto spores

Procedure:

1. Rinse 1 1/2 cups of soybeans in water and soak in at least 5 cups of water overnight at room temperature.

*the soybeans will more than double its size, see photo below, so make sure you use a lot of water when soaking the beans.*

A dry soybean on the left. After soaking for 12 hours, it will look like the one on the right.
I use this footed strainer basket with a handle to steam the soybeans in an Instant pot.

2. Rinse and strain soybeans and place in a metal footed strainer basket (or a colander over a trivet).

3. Pour 1 1/2 cups water in the pressure cooker liner.

4. Place the strainer with soybeans in the pressure cooker and pressure cook for 45 minutes.

5. Let pressure drop for 10 minutes, then release pressure, placing a kitchen towel over the vent to help dissipate the steam.

Cover the vent with a clean towel. I just took a photo to show the release of pressure.
Soybeans after cooking for 45 minutes.

6. In the meantime, prepare your yogurt maker.

7. Place 1/4 cup of water in the Tanika Yogurt Maker’s inner container, place the spoon inside and cover with the clear cover.

8. Position the spoon so that the handle sticks out of the cut out in the cover.

9. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds to sterilize. Dump out the water.

10. If using the natto spores, mix 2 teaspoons boiled and cooled water with 1 tiny spoonful (included in the spores box) of the culture. Mix well and set aside.

*water mixed with natto spores*

11. Take one soybean and squeeze it between two fingers, it should be soft enough that it will crush easily.

12. Transfer half of the hot soybeans in the prepared yogurt container.

13. A. *If using spores, pour the half of the diluted culture over the hot soybeans.

13. B. If using ready made natto, add a spoonful of it onto the hot soybeans. Stir with the sterilized spoon.

14. A. *Add the rest of the soybeans to the yogurt container and then the rest of the diluted culture, if using spores. Mix well.

14. B. *If using pre made natto, add a spoonful more to the soybeans, then mix throughly.

15. Make sure to mix well, but be careful not to crush the beans.

16. Set the container into the yogurt maker, cover with a clean towel and place the blue cover over, slightly ajar to allow air in.

17. Set the fermentation temperature to 45C and the timer to 24 hours.

18. Carefully remove the blue cover and check the beans after 24 hours.

19. They should have a white, fuzzy growth around most of the beans.

20. Cover with the clear cover then the blue screw, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating.

*this is how it looks like from the bottom of the container.

21. Take a big spoonful of the natto and place on a serving dish. Cover and return the rest to the refrigerator. Using a spoon or chopsticks, thoroughly mix the natto until stringy and slimy. I was told to stir vigorously 100 times! Add a little soy sauce and hot mustard, serve over hot plain rice. Enjoy!

Mackerel Pate

Hello my friends!

Today I’ll be making a delicious fish sandwich spread. As you might know, I make our bread at least once a week and of course, I want the best sandwich fillings to go with it.

My very favorite will always be butter and orange marmalade, but tuna salad, and BLT are close contenders.

We do have the usual Turkey and/or Ham with cheese and mayo quite often too.

My mom was taking about how she eats some canned mackerel more often now as it is very good fo your health, so imagine how excited I was when I found these at Trader Joe’s.

I was going to mix it up like my tuna salad but figured out I can make a more tasty spread using cream cheese. It makes a thicker spread that you can thin out using some mayonnaise. I hope you’ll like it!

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Ingredients:

1/4 red onion, chopped

4-6 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of ground black pepper

Pinch of Salt

1 6oz can mackerel, drained

1 hard boiled egg, peeled and chopped

*you can add 1 – 2 tablespoons mayo to loosen up the pate if you like it more spreadable*

Procedure:

1. In a bowl, mix together onions and cream cheese.

2. Add garlic powder,

3. Ground black pepper,

4. And salt.

5. Open the can of mackerel and drain well.

6. Place the fillets in the bowl.

7. Mash and mix everything together.

8. Add in chopped eggs.

9. Mix well. Add mayonnaise if using.

10. Spread on a thick slice of toasted bread.

11. Enjoy!

Electric Lunchbox #94: Apple Rum Cake

Apple. Rum. Cake.

Apples were on sale this past few weeks so I had bought my fair share. Actually MORE than my fair share that I had to dehydrate some to save them from going bad.

So I thought about making apple torte (https://athomewiththeresa.com/2020/11/27/apple-cream-torte/). But then someone mentioned apple cake with rum…so off to testing I went! I was told that spiced rum works best but I only had Bacardi so I used that. It worked!

You can definitely taste the rum in this cake. Which I like, but feel free to lessen the amount if you have to. Or replace it with apple juice to make it kid friendly.

Hope you like this recipe!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1-2 tablespoons Bacardi rum

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 big apple, peeled and chopped

3 ELB cups water for base

Procedure:

1. Spray the big ELB bowl with nonstick spray. Set aside.

2. Melt butter in a microwave safe dish.

3. In a medium sized bowl, pour melted butter,

4. Brown sugar,

5. Rum,

6. Vanilla,

7. Egg,

8. Mix everything well together.

9. Add four,

10. Baking powder,

11. Salt,

12. Mix until no more trace of dry flour remains and the ingredients are well combined.

13. Gently fold in chopped apples. Make sure to try and coat the apples with the batter.

14. Pour into prepared ELB bowl. Cover with foil and set onto the ELB base,

15. Place 3 ELB cups water in the base, cover and let steam until it shuts off , about 1 hour.

16. Carefully open the ELB and check the cake for doneness. Poke the center with a skewer. It should come out clean.

17. Enjoy warm or cold! A scoop or 2 of ice cream would be great with this too!

18. Enjoy!

Electric Lunchbox #89: 1 hour dinner rolls

Delicious steamed bread in the ELB, done in about an hour or so, and enough for one, or two, or even three if you feel like sharing!

Made with only 6 ingredients, which I believe everyone has in their pantry, you could prep this before 5 pm and have fresh, hot rolls by around 6 pm! Perfect to serve with soup or stew!

Or make them in the morning for hot breakfast bread! Either way, I promise you a very tasty, soft, and delicious bread that you might want to make this often!

I like to use olive oil and enjoy the mild flavor in the finished bread, but feel free to use canola oil if you prefer a more neutral flavored bread.

You can also knead in some chopped rosemary, chopped olives, cheese cubes and jalapeños, or fill the dough rolls with whatever filling you like. I like an – red bean paste, ube – taro paste, cream cheese, cream cheese and strawberry jam, sliced chinese sausage, Filipino Menudo, or nutella. Make it your own!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup warm water

1 1/2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon instant yeast

3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Procedure:

1. In a small bowl, place water,

2. Oil,

3. Sugar,

5. And yeast.

6. Mix everything together. Set aside for at least 15 minutes.

7. This is what it’ll look like after 15 minutes.

8. Add flour and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir everything together until it forms a ball.

9. Knead for about 3 minutes, until the dough looks smooth.

10. It should look like this after kneading. Divide dough into 3 or 4 pieces. Roll into smooth balls and pinch seams.

11. This is how it would look like after shaping the dough into balls.

12. Spray the medium or large ELB bowl with nonstick spray.

13. Place the dough balls in the greased bowl, leaving space between them as they will puff up. Cover with foil and place on the ELB base. Add 2 ELB cups of water to the base, cover and set aside for 10 minutes.

14. Turn the ELB on and let steam until done, about 30 – 35 minutes.

5. Carefully open the ELB and check bread for doneness. Add more water and steam longer if needed.

6. Enjoy the bread warm with butter and jam, soup, stew, or curry dinner!

Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

Espresso muffin is one of my favorite treat, as are blueberry, cappuccino, and chocolate chip! I had been playing with recipes to make this just right – with the taste of coffee coming through strong and blending well with chocolate.

I used instant coffee at first but that didn’t taste like espresso so I purchased a jar of instant espresso powder. That made it taste better. Semi sweet chocolate chips plays well with the bitter coffee to round out the taste of this delicious muffin! Perfect to start your day right!

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup instant espresso coffee powder

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Combine flour, espresso, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, brown sugar, melted butter, eggs, an vanilla. Add dry ingredients to the large bowl, fold just until mixture is evenly moistened. Do not over mix.

4. Divide evenly among the muffin cups. sprinkle chocolate chips on top of each muffin.

5. Bake until edges begin to pull away from the sides of the muffin cup, 20-22 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before removing from pan.

6. I like this still a bit warm for breakfast, with a cup of hot coffee or tea! Enjoy!

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Taro Mantou Buns

I usually make plain mantou buns but someone asked if I made swirly ones like the commercially available, frozen ones.

Of course I had to try making it!

Here it is after a few tries! You could use the frozen “ube” available in Asian markets, or the fresh Japanese Purple sweet potatoes (Okinawan sweet potatoes), or the Stokes purple sweet potatoes. They will have a slightly different taste, depending on the sweet potato variety you used but they will all be delicious.

I hope you try this recipe out! The buns look so pretty but can go with any filling, sweet or savory, as they have a very mild taste! Enjoy!

Makes 12 buns

White Bread:

100 grams water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon yeast

200 grams all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Purple Bread:

100 grams water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon yeast

30 grams cooked mashed purple sweet potatoes

200 grams all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Procedure:

1. Prepare the white dough first: In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle(or Thermomix), place water, sugar, and yeast. Stir gently to mix.

2. Add flour, baking powder, oil, and salt. Mix until incorporated. You can then knead by hand, the dough hook or by the kneading function of the Thermomix. Knead until smooth and elastic, around 5 minutes by hand or mixer, or 2 minutes with Thermomix. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover and set aside.

3. Repeat the same procedure with the purple dough. Place in another greased bowl, cover and set aside.

4. Let both dough rest for about an hour, until doubled in size.

5. Roll out the white dough into a rectangle, about 12 x 8 inches.

6. Roll out the purple dough to the same size.

7. Stack the purple dough on top of the white dough and roll up tightly. Pinch seams.

8. Score at 1 inch intervals, then go back and cut all the way through.

9. Set each bun on a piece of parchment paper, seam side down, and set on steaming racks/trays. Let rise, covered, until it doubles in size, about an hour.

10. Prepare steamer by boiling water in the pan without the steaming trays. You want the water boiling before placing the proved buns in the steaming trays/racks to steam.

11. Place the steaming trays/racks over the boiling water and let steam for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat but leave buns covered for 5 minutes more.

12. Remove the buns to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

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Country Sourdough with Dark Rye and Kamut

I recently bought a Mockmill 100 stone grain mill so that I can make flour from black beans, garbanzo, and other grains I’d like to include in my baking and cooking that are not readily available as flour.

I did run a variety of dried beans through it the moment I got it. Black beans, red lentils, rice, garbanzo…(I’m sure the grinder got the shock of it’s life!😊) It was wonderful! The flour is really fine, which is perfect as I want to use the flour for pasta.

Debating to exchange it with the Mockmill 200 but decided I do not need it for now. I’ll do a review of it soon, as I truly love the fact that I can have a flour of any grain I can get my hands on!

Back to sourdough, I had been making our breads for a while now, only supplementing with store bought when needed. And I had been incorporating various grains in my regular Country Sourdough.

This bread has Dark Rye and Kamut. Yummy and very healthy too! I hope you like it!

Note: This recipe makes 2 loaves, around 900-950 grams dough weight each prior to baking, and 750-800 more or less after it’s baked. So feel free to halve the recipe if you only want 1 loaf.

Ingredients:

720 grams bread flour

90 grams dark rye flour

90 grams kamut flour

700 grams water

180 grams starter

18 grams sea salt

1. Mix everything together until a rough dough forms. Cover and set aside for about an hour or so.

2. Grab one side of the dough and pull straight up, stretching the dough, then press it on the opposite end of the dough. Turn bowl half way and repeat. Do this 2 more times to finish 4 stretch and folds. This is one set. Try to do 3 more sets, about half an hour apart.

3. After the stretch and folds, cover and let dough rest for 2 – 4 hours at room temperature.

4. Weigh and divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Shape and place in a floured banneton (or bowl, or colander). Cover and let rise for an hour or two. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

5. Next morning, take dough out of the fridge and invert onto a piece of parchment paper. Score and place in a dutch oven or clay baker. Cover dutch oven or clay baker.

6. Place the dutch oven or clay baker in a COLD oven and close oven door. Set temperature of the oven to 500F. When it reaches the temperature, lower to 450F and time for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove cover and bake for 20-25 minutes more, until browned.

7. Remove bread from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

24-hour Soft Sourdough Rolls

Here is another recipe I totally rushed so you can have it for Thanksgiving, if you wish to try it. And I hope you do as it is so easy to make and so good! The 24 hour time frame is just mostly waiting, not actual hands on time so don’t be scared because of it. This bread develops lovely flavors because of the long fermentation times and in moderate amounts, is better for you than regular store bought bread.

This recipe makes a whopping 40 (or 24, or 32, depending on how you divide them) dinner rolls, 20 each in 2 13”x9” baking pans. Feel free to halve the recipe if needed, but I figured since I am going to be waiting 24 hours, I might just as well make enough to share with my mom when my nieces and nephew comes over.

One thing to keep in mind is that your starter has to be active, or just fed 8 hours ago, for this recipe to work. I did try it with discards, since it will be resting for a long while, but it did not work out to be as soft as the ones using an active starter.

For the sweetener, you can use 1/2 cup of honey if you want, but I just wanted some maple syrup mixed in this particular recipe. You do not taste the honey or the maple syrup in the baked roll, but it does contribute to the bread’s softness, texture, and overall taste.

Guideline: 1. I fed my starter Sunday night, around 8 pm, set it on the counter overnight to get ready for tomorrow. The next morning, at 7 am, I prepared the dough and let it rest until 7-8 pm. Then at 8 pm, I shaped them into balls, placed in the pan, covered and let rest until the next morning. Tuesday morning, I preheated the oven at 7:30am. Then baked them until done. It was done before 9 am.

2. If you want these to be baked in the afternoon, just do the same thing but feed the starter 1 day prior, in the morning, then prepare the dough that evening. Let it rise overnight, shape it the following morning, let rest until late in the afternoon, then bake.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole milk or evaporated milk

2 cups active sourdough starter

7 cups bread flour

1/2 cup melted butter

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon sea salt

1/4 cup melted butter, for brushing on baked rolls

Procedure:

1. Place all ingredients, except the 1/4 cup melted butter for brushing the rolls later, in the bowl of a stand mixer.

After the dough is mixed for a few minutes…

2. Mix with a dough hook for 15 minutes. If you are using a Kitchenaid, stop after 8 minutes, rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then continue for 7 more minutes.

After 15 minutes, it’s smooth and stretchy.

3. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover and let rise on the counter for 12 hours, or until doubled and airy.

4. Punch down dough, weigh it, and divide it into even pieces. You can make 12, 16, or 20 pieces fit per 13”x9”pan. I like to make 20 pieces, so there is more to share…and eat!

After 12 hour rise…

5. Shape into little balls by pulling edges into center, pinching it and rolling the dough, pinched side down on the counter to tighten the surface of the ball.

6. Place in one of two generously greased 13”x9” pan. Repeat with remaining dough, keeping others covered to prevent them from drying out. Fill both pans, cover and let sit for another 12 hours on the counter. You want them to fill the baking pans, and look really light and airy. I left them in the microwave with the convection rack in place to accommodate 2 baking pans.

Light golden after 20 minutes of baking.

7. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake rolls for 25 minutes, or until browned and internal temperature registers 200F in an instant read thermometer. I baked this for 20 minutes, buttered them all and baked for 5 minutes more.

Perfect!

8. Remove from oven and brush with butter. I just grab a stick of butter and gently run it through the buns long enough to coat them in melted butter.

9. Serve warm with plenty of additional butter, jam, or stuff with turkey, cranberry sauce and enjoy!