Get ready to roll with these delicious natto rolls! Our easy recipe (step-by-step photos included) will have you making this healthy Japanese delicacy in no time!
In this post you’ll learn:
- Why you will love this recipe
- What is a Natto Maki Roll?
- What is Natto Made Of?
- Taste of Natto
- If Natto is Healthy
- Toppings & serving suggestions
- Storage and meal prep suggestions
- More recipes like this!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Packed with wholesome ingredients, this recipe offers a nutritious and satisfying option.
- A flavorful and fulfilling sushi experience without any fish and animal products for all you vegetarians and vegans out there!
- I’ve included step-by-step photos to make homemade sushi rolls a breeze, even if you’re a beginner!
- Sticky rice, tangy rice vinegar, and savory natto create a one-of-a-kind taste experience, especially if you like natto like me!
- Once you’ve mastered this recipe, you will never go back to eating sushi at restaurants anymore! Making sushi is very customizable so you can play with bold flavors and flavor combinations!
What is a Natto Roll?
A Natto Roll is a type of hosomaki which are sushi rolls filled with just one ingredient. It uses natto as the main filling. The natto maki roll is made by wrapping seasoned sushi rice and natto in a sheet of nori seaweed and rolling it into a cylindrical shape.
What is Natto Made Of?
Natto is made from fermented soybeans. The soybeans are first cooked, and then a specific bacteria called Bacillus subtilis natto is added to start the fermentation process. The fermentation creates a unique sticky/slimy texture and distinct flavor of natto.
What is the Flavor of Natto?
Natto has a strong and distinctive flavor. People often describe it as nutty, earthy, and slightly bitter. Some compare them to the taste of aged cheese. The Japanese usually eat natto with plain rice to mellow out this flavor. Some people find the taste to be an acquired one due to its unique and fermented characteristics, so I suggest you just try it for yourself!🙌
Why is Natto So Good For You?
Natto is a good source of plant-based protein, fiber, and vitamins like vitamin K and B complex vitamins. It also contains a natural enzyme called nattokinase, which may have potential cardiovascular benefits by promoting healthy blood circulation. Additionally, natto is rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that support gut health. In case you want to read more, check out this Healthline article about the health benefits of natto.
So…with this nutrient-dense and gut-friendly food, plus this easy and tasty recipe, what else are you waiting for? Try this recipe now! 😉
For the rice
- Sushi rice: The classic Japanese rice that is essential for making any sushi! They are naturally sticky which helps hold the shape of your natto sushi.
- Brown rice: Adds a nutty flavor and a wholesome touch, though you can also skip this and substitute with only regular sushi rice for a more traditional approach.
- Water: To cook the rice.
- Rice vinegar: A key seasoning ingredient for the rice, adding that tanginess which is key in any sushi.
- Sugar: Used in combination with rice vinegar, sugar balances the flavor profile of the rice, adding a touch of sweetness to complement the other ingredients.
- Salt: Enhances the overall taste and brings out the flavors.
And now for the filling and rolling!
- Nori sheets: Thin seaweed sheets act as the wrapper for the sushi rolls, giving them a distinct taste.
- Natto: The star ingredient! The fermented soybean product that I’m guessing is the reason why you’re here on this page 😉
- Green onion or chives (optional): Chopped and mixed with the natto, these ingredients offer a fresh and aromatic element to the rolls.
- Soy sauce or vegan mayo: Condiments that can be served alongside the natto rolls for dipping, adding additional layers of flavor and can be used according to personal preference.
Cook the rice by combining sushi rice, brown rice, and water in a saucepan. Boil, then simmer until cooked. Let it steam for 10 minutes.
While waiting for the rice to cook, mix rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to create the vinegar mixture. Microwave if needed to dissolve any clumps.
Optional: Chop green onions or chives.
Once your rice is cooked through, cover your saucepan with a lid to let it steam for 5 minutes.
Transfer the cooked rice to a baking sheet. Then, pour the vinegar mixture over the rice and fold gently to coat every grain evenly. Yes, every grain. But don’t worry, this shouldn’t take more than 3 minutes!
Now allow the rice to cool for 10-15 minutes. And no, please do NOT skip this step if you want to get nice sushi rolls!
Place a nori sheet on a bamboo sushi mat with the shiny side down. Then spread rice evenly over it, leaving space at the top while making sure that both sides are covered well.
Spread the natto horizontally, about an inch (2.5cm) from the bottom. Add the chopped green onions/chives now if using. Be careful not to add too much natto so the sushi can roll up nicely!
Roll the sushi tightly using the mat, applying gentle pressure by pressing the sushi roll using the mat. Seal the roll with a bit of water if necessary.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Use a sharp knife to slice the rolls into bite-sized pieces, approximately 6 pieces per roll.
Garnish the plate with additional chopped green onions or chives for added freshness, or by sprinkling sesame seeds. Serve the Natto Sushi alongside small dipping bowls filled with soy sauce or vegan mayo for dipping so everyone can enjoy their dipping sauce of choice.
You can also get creative with the dipping sauce by combining your 3-minute oil-free vegan mayo with other flavors such as sriracha mayo or wasabi mayo! Want some garlicky dipping sauce? Then check out my Gochujang Aioli and Kimchi Aioli recipes!
This delightful and nutritious sushi can be enjoyed as a flavorful appetizer, a light lunch, or a fun addition to a sushi party. In that case, you can check my other easy maki sushi recipes such as this Kappa Maki (cucumber roll), Umeshiso Roll (Japanese pickled plum and shiso leaves roll), Shiitake Roll, and Brown Rice Kimchi Sushi recipes.
It’s also super fun to let other people try natto for the first time and see their reaction!
Storage and Meal Prep Instructions
Storage: For the best taste and experience, consume the natto sushi rolls fresh, or at least within 12 hours of preparation. If you are not consuming them directly, store them in the refrigerator.
Meal prep: If you want to meal prep, prepare the sushi rice beforehand and refrigerate it for up to 4 days. Only when you’re ready to enjoy the sushi, assemble them by making the rolls. This way, you can have the convenience of prepped ingredients while still enjoying the optimal freshness of the sushi rolls. Win-win!🏆
Unlike sushi rice, regular white rice isn’t sticky. This means that your sushi might fall apart when you roll or slice them. Therefore, I do not recommend it.
However, if you don’t really care about the shape of the sushi, but more about wanting to finish up your regular white rice because for example you’re going on a long vacation, then yes that will work. In this case, you might also opt to not roll the sushi at all and make something closer to a poke bowl instead.
You can substitute rice vinegar with diluted white vinegar (2 parts white vinegar to 1 part water).
You can also use other types of clear vinegar. But note that you will taste a hint of flavor, such as that apple-like aroma if using apple cider vinegar.
Look for nori sheets specifically labeled for sushi-making, as they are typically the ideal size and thickness for rolling sushi.
Miso is a fermented soybean paste with a milder and smoother flavor, while natto is fermented soybeans known for their distinctive sticky and slimy texture with a strong taste.
Miso is commonly used in soups, marinades, glazes, and dressings whereas natto is commonly enjoyed with rice.
Traditional options like soy sauce or a combination of soy sauce and wasabi make excellent dipping sauces to complement the flavors of Natto Rolls.
If you want a more creamy dipping sauce, you can pair it with some vegan mayonnaise.
I myself have never tried making sushi without a sushi mat so I cannot advise this. You can find bamboo sushi mats in Asian supermarkets or online and they are quite cheap so I highly recommend just getting one for all your sushi adventures!
Having said that, you might want to try rolling one using a thick kitchen towel. Note that this way, I cannot guarantee that the sushi will turn out well, especially if this is your first time making sushi rolls.
Want More Recipes Like This?
If you’re a fan of fermented food, try my Indonesian Sticky Tempeh recipe.
- ½ cup white short-grained sushi rice 110 grams uncooked
- ½ cup brown rice 105 grams uncooked, feel free to sub with regular sushi rice as above for a more traditional recipe
- 1.5 cups water or according to package instructions
- ¼ cup rice vinegar 60ml (see notes for substitutes)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar 30 grams (see notes for substitutes)
- 1 teaspoon salt 5 grams
- 4 nori sheets cut into half
- 75 grams natto
- (Optional) 1 small green onion or chives
- Soy sauce or vegan mayo for serving
Cook the rice and prepare rice vinegar mixture
- In a medium saucepan or pot, combine the sushi rice, brown rice, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer according to package instructions, probably for about 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit, covered, for an additional 10 minutes to steam.Note that you can also cook it in a rice cooker.
- While the rice is cooking, prepare the rice vinegar mixture by mixing the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. They don’t have to be completely dissolved although the more evenly dissolved they are, the better.If you see clumps, microwave the mixture, in 10-15 second increments.
- Optional: Chop some green onions or chives.
- Once the rice is cooked, cover with a lid to let it steam for an additional 5 minutes.
Mix rice with the sushi rice seasoning
- After about 5 minutes, transfer the rice to a baking sheet or a large plate. This is important to get a sticky but fluffy sushi rice. Gently flatten out the rice.
- Directly afterwards, pour the rice vinegar mixture to the rice. Then use a rice spoon or spatula to fold over the rice to mix it evenly with the seasoning. Continue mixing in a ‘slicing’ motion until all grains of rice is coated.
- Now leave the rice to cool down for about 10-15 minutes. You can also use a fan to do this to speed it up.
Roll, roll, roll!
- Once the rice cools down, place a nori sheet on the bamboo sushi mat with its shiny side down.
- Using a (rice) spoon, spread the rice evenly over the nori, leaving an inch (2.5cm) at the top. Be sure to fill in the left and right sides completely. If the rice sticks too much to the (rice) spoon, wet the spoon slightly but note that you don’t want water to be dripping from the (rice) spoon.
- Add the natto in a horizontal line, about an inch (2.5cm) from the bottom. Be careful not to add too much so you can roll them nicely.
- (Optional) Add the cut green onions/chives if using.
- Roll the sushi tightly using the sushi mat, applying gentle pressure by pressing the sushi roll (and sushi mat) to keep it secure. If needed, seal the roll by moistening the edge of the nori with a bit of water.
- Repeat the process with the remaining rice, natto, and nori sheets.
- Once all the sushi rolls are prepared, use a sharp knife to slice them into bite-sized pieces, about 6 pieces per roll.
- Serve the Natto Sushi rolls with soy sauce for dipping!
- Brown rice: You can substitute this with regular sushi rice such that you’re only using white short-grained sushi rice for this recipe. This is the more traditional way of making this natto sushi roll, but it will then contain less fiber and protein.
- Rice vinegar: You can replace this with diluted white vinegar (2 parts white vinegar to 1 part water). If substituting with other types of clear vinegar, you will taste a hint of flavor (such as that apple-like aroma if using apple cider vinegar)
- Sugar: If you don’t have sugar, you can use another flavorless sweetener of choice. If you use a sweetener that has an intrinsic taste such as honey or maple syrup, they will impart a slightly different flavor to the rice (e.g. that honey and mapley taste), so you can proceed while being mindful of this effect!
- It is best to consume these natto maki fresh, or at least within 12 hours.
- If you want to meal prep though, you can make the rice separately, but only roll the sushi when you want to consume them.
- The calorie calculation is for 1 serving, excluding the toppings and dipping sauce.