Fermented Soy Beens on Rice
Photography by:Yuki Sugiura

Fermented Soy Beens on Rice

Never Never Don

With this dish, you will see whether you have true Japanese taste! The rice is topped with sticky natto (fermented soy beans), and in Japan we call this a ‘neba neba’ texture. The European husband of a Japanese friend of mine wasn’t keen on natto and said he would ‘never never’ eat it. I renamed this dish ‘Never Never Don’ after him. Let’s see what you make of it! To ease you in gently, I have added other toppings to give a pleasing variety of textures. The onsen tamago or ‘hot springs egg’ is an egg
slowly poached in warm water, which gives a soft silky white and custard-like yolk.

Serves: 2


  • 2 organic eggs
  • 4 okra
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 x 40 g packets of natto (fermented soy beans)
  • 400 g cooked Japanese rice
  • 4 small red radishes, very thinly sliced
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 tbsp Tsuyu Sauce or tamari soy sauce
  • 1 sheet of nori seaweed, shredded
  • 20-cm/8-inch heavy-based saucepan


  1. To make the onsen tamago eggs, place 1.2 litres of water in the saucepan (this will be enough to submerge the eggs). Bring to the boil. Add 200 ml cold water to the pan and turn off the heat.
  2. Put the eggs in gently, then cover with a lid. Leave the eggs to slow-poach for 18 minutes in the residual heat. Drain and then gently rinse the eggs under cold running water to stop the cooking process completely. Drain again. Set aside.
  3. Place the okra on a chopping board and sprinkle with the sea salt. Use your palms to roll the okra in the salt, this will help to remove the hairy surface and makes the colour bright green.
    Bring some water to the boil in a saucepan and boil the salted okra for 2 minutes. Rinse under cold running
    water to stop the cooking process and drain. Slice the okra thinly and set aside.
  4. Stir the natto (fermented soy beans) inside their packets to create the ‘neba neba’ texture (almost sticky,
    slimy and stringy).
    To serve, portion the cooked rice into serving bowls. Crack the shells of the onsen tamago eggs open and top
    each rice bowl with an egg, half the natto and okra, radishes, avocado and toasted pine nuts.
    Finish with a drizzle of tsuyu sauce over the top and some shredded nori seaweed.
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