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What is natto – the Japanese dish John Blackthorne eats in ‘Shōgun’ episode 4?

March 20th, 2024

A particular scene from the new series Shōgun has become a talking point, for featuring a humorous moment with a traditional Japanese dish called natto.

The historical drama series, which is available to watch on Disney+, is set in Japan in the year 1600. The story involves Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada), who is fighting enemies united against him, when a European ship is found in a nearby village, introducing the character of John Blackthorne, played by Cosmo Jarvis.

In episode four of the series, The Eightfold Fence, Blackthorne begins to assimilate into Japanese culture, by speaking the language, developing relationships, and experiencing traditional Japanese cuisine.

During one scene, Blackthorne becomes curious about a dish being eaten by Lady Mariko and Usami Fuji. He insists on trying it, and compares it to mouldy cheese, which entertains the other two characters.

What is natto – the Japanese dish John Blackthorne eats in Shōgun episode 4?

Natto, the food being eaten by the characters in this scene, is a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans. Stringy and gooey in texture, this beige-coloured meal has a strong odour.

It is packed with fiber, probiotics and vitamin K12, and is often served as breakfast food with rice. It can also be enjoyed with kimchi, soy sauce, karashi mustard or chives.

Natto. CREDIT: JOHAN NILSSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Its pungent smell and strong, savoury flavour, mean it is often considered an acquired taste, perhaps why Shōgun‘s Lady Mariko and Usami Fuji find Blackthorne’s reaction to it, as an outsider, amusing.

Blackthorne is not far off with his likening the food to mouldy cheese, as the odour can sometimes resemble an aged version of the dairy product. Natto is known to be more popular in the eastern Kanto region, where it is considered a delicacy.

This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
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