Broccoli and Beets, please

10 May

My older daughter loves fruit – blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, apples, watermelon… The little one is a bit pickier, and scrunches her face up at the berries, pokes them, and tells me defiantly in two languages, “Don’t wanit.  II-no!”  The older one swoops in, and says, “OK!  I’ll help you then,” and runs off with the rejected berries.

Yesterday, I received a request from my daughter for broccoli and beets.  She also requested I include natto, or fermented soy beans as her rice topping. 

If you are not familiar with natto, it is a unique Japanese food that is often served for breakfast over rice.  Natto is very pungent, and has a very unique smell, texture and consistency.  In western cultural terms, I liken it to a very strong cheese, with a similar taste – a strong, unique taste – I’ve heard it reminded someone of Guinness! 

Natto is sold in small styrofoam containers, and is prepared by putting it into a bowl, adding chopped scallions, soy sauce or dashi stock, and mixing everything together.  The natto is sticky, and the more you stir (usually with chopsticks), the more stickier and viscous it becomes.  At our house, we add blanched and chopped okra when it’s in season, or mekabu, a type of seaweed that has a similar viscous texture.  Once everything is mixed well, we pour it over bowls of steamed rice and enjoy.  It’s nutty, salty, and delicious – and reminds me of home.

Again – natto is certainly an acquired taste, but I believe there are similar products in other Asian countries.  I feel it smells similar to Korean doenjang, but with a different texture.

Needless to say, I don’t think natto is a good option for my daughter’s lunch, but I’ll be certain to prepare it for her during the week.

Today’s lunch included:

Mini-hot dog (conventional), with a cute pattern – my mom always cut a pattern into them

Blanched broccoli florets

Roasted beets – in star shapes

Steamed multi-grain rice with furikake or dried seaweed seasoning

Strawberries

No natto, but hopefully everything else makes up for it!

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