Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

natto-chahan.jpg

This week, I’m aiming to make all of my bentos vegan or vegetarian. One reason is simply to have more vegan/vegetarian bento recipes up here! But the other more personal reasons are that, first of all, vegan/vegetarian meals often cost less than meat-centric meals, especially here in Switzerland where even the inexpensive cuts of meat and poultry are not so. The other is just for health; I often feel so much better when I’ve had a vegan bento.

This fried rice is a meal unto itself. There are some finely chopped vegetables as well as hijiki seaweed, and high quality protein in the form of brown rice and natto, those infamous sticky fermented soy beans. I have been hesitant about featuring natto-based recipes here or on Just Hungry, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that quite a few people actually do like it. Natto is an excellent and easily digestible source of protein, and when it’s cooked like this all of the gooey stickiness of it disappears. If you prefer though, you can substitute crumbled tempeh or even shelled edamame.

Recipe: All-in-one natto or tempeh fried brown rice

This makes enough for 2 to 3 bentos. Total calories: about 650.

The key to success with this recipe is to maintain a high heat at all times under your pan.

  • 2 cups of cooked brown rice (I used some from my frozen stash)
  • 1 pack (50g, about 1 1/2 oz.) of natto, or 1/3 cup crumbled tempeh, or 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • Approx. 1 cup chopped green onions
  • Approx. 1 cup chopped vegetables, whatever you have on hand - peppers, carrots, greens, broccoli, etc.
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil or light olive oil
  • A few drops of sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs. pre-cooked hijiki, optional (I had some again stashed in the freezer)
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chop up all the vegetables.

Heat up a wok or large non-stick frying pan with 1/2 of the vegetable oil. Add the green onions and the vegetables, and sauté until the vegetables are a little limp.

Add the natto or tempeh, and 1 Tbs. of soy sauce. Sauté until the stickiness of the natto has dissipated. Add the sesame oil.

Add the rest of the oil and the rice. Stir-fry until the rice and the other ingredients are evenly mixed. Push the mixture to one side, and add the rest of the soy sauce to the bare surface of the pan. Add the hijiki if you have it. Stir-fry a couple of minutes more until everything looks and smells toasty. Season with pepper (probably needed) and salt (probably not needed - taste some before adding!); let cool before packing in a bento box.

Sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds or gomashio.

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21 comments

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Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

As a vegetarian i support you in the way to ofer us more vegan/vegetarian bento !
This one sounds great, well i never try natto, and never see it in grocestore, but i can change it to tofu ? Because tempeh and i are not very good friends ...

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

You read my mind! I was going to make tempeh fried rice today. I didn't think to add hijiki-- maybe I'll try that tonight.

When I went grocery shopping the other day, I was thinking that I hadn't cooked fish in a long while. Looking at the prices, I remembered why.

Coincidence or fate?!

Hi Maki! Thank you so much for, um...existing. :) I bought some bento boxes for me and my husband a few months ago, but have been too confused as to what to put in them. I stumbled on your site the other day, and have been reading page after page since then. And now that I'm feeling comfortable with the basic ideas, as an added bonus you're going to put up more vegan/vegetarian recipes (we're both vegetarian, and I'm lactose intolerant to boot)! I'm SO excited!! Now I have no excuse not to make bento. Thank you thank you thank you~~

Re: Coincidence or fate?!

glad you found us :)

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

Instead of the natto or tempeh, very well drained tofu would work (though would be different); or shelled edamame, or cooked soybeans. Other beans would work too, though not as high in protein.

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

*Applauds the idea of more veggie bento recipes*

I only really have tofu so will try that (or maybe a tofu/edamame mix)

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

What a simple but yummy dish. I love fried rice, but I never thought of adding natto before, even though I've made it with shelled edamame a couple of times.

I think I'm going to try this with some chopped kimchi as well.

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

I have everything I need for this (except the hijiki, which I won't miss), and I am so going to make it. WITH NATTO! Boo-yah.

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

The first time I tried natto...I bought a pack of 3, ate one bean, and threw away all 3 packs. Months after that, walking around Mitsuwa with a friend, they were giving natto samples wrapped in seaweed. My friend joyfully popped it in his mouth..."Mmmm", while I wanted to walk away. He said "try it, it's good." Maybe because it was wrapped in seaweed, I thought hey it's not so bad. Gave it another try with generous amount of chopped green onion, together with seaweed, they help mask the texture and smell. Now I always have natto in my fridge! So thanks for this recipe because I've only had it with steamed rice.

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

I like the sound of a notto fried rice!

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

ooh, this is so exciting! i usually have natto for breakfast (with rice, soy sauce & hot mustard, and a fried egg on top—YUM), so i'm excited to see another way to make it. i might even try it with tempeh... i'm always looking for new ways to make tempeh, because i don't like the taste of it, but so far the only thing that i've been able to make with tempeh that masked the taste enough was soboro.

hooray for more natto recipes! ^_^

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

I've had natto in my freezer for months now, too afraid to try it for the first time. I made this tonight, hoping that it would mask the texture/smell so I wouldn't be put off by that. Super delicious!! Thanks for the recipe!

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

Hi Maki, I have a question regarding the natto. Do you mix it with the provided tiny packets of mustard and sauce before cooking this dish or do you leave it out?

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

It sort of depends on the brand and so on. Sometimes I add the sauce, sometimes I just throw it away. The mustard I dump or keep for when I have natto the regular way, and have extra-mustardy-natto!

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

I am thinking about making this for my natto-loving boyfriend. I am wondering if I can make it and then freeze it to reheat later. Will it still be good reheated from freezer?

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

I am thinking about making this for my natto-loving boyfriend. I am wondering if I can make it and then freeze it to reheat later. Will it still be good reheated from freezer?

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

I have a question: Can you freeze the natto fried rice for later?

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

You should be able to freeze it, very well wrapped in individual portions. Just nuke in the morning in the microwave or transfer to the refrigerator the previous evening before you need it.

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

Hello, I am looking to buy some prepared natto. can you give me a source. I live near Indianapollis, Indiana. Thank you, Wayne

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

I tried out your recipe, and it was so good...thank you so much! I just moved to HI, found it difficult/out-of-the-way to get tempeh, and someone introduced me to natto, since it has similar nutrients to tempeh (great for vegetarians). I bought some, and just about gagged. Most websites just suggest mixing it with rice and soy sauce. That didn't do justice for me. Just because I'm a vegetarian doesn't mean I'm willing to sacrifice taste for health. I tried looking all over for recipes, just to avoid having to throwing away the rest of the natto, but they all had meat or seafood. Thank God I found your simple recipe. I didn't even have to make a special trip to the store for special ingredients. I enjoyed it so much, I will purposely buy natto again just to make this!

Re: Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice

To reduce the sticky-smelliness further you can also try rinsing the natto a bit before draining it and using it too. Glad you liked the recipe ^_^

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