View Full Version : MSG Thoughts?

08-20-2012, 02:18 PM
Monosodium glutamate- Do you use it in your pro kitchens? At home?

Eamon Burke
08-20-2012, 02:25 PM
Nope. Its not needed and can make food taste cloying. I don't need dinner to kick me in the face.

08-20-2012, 02:32 PM
Aside: did you know that until 1934 the Boston Garden was known as "Boston Madison Square Garden"?

08-20-2012, 02:33 PM
Not directly but i know that's what I am basically doing when I add soy sauce, worchestershire sauce or Parmesan cheese as a "secret " ingredient. I use a lot it Worcestershire in stuff.


08-20-2012, 02:34 PM
BTW, I have no personal fears or issues with the use of MSG.


08-20-2012, 02:38 PM
It's naturally occurring in so many different foods, that most people do use it they just don't realize it. I know that's kind of ducking the question, but I think it gets a bad rap for no reason really.

Keith Neal
08-20-2012, 03:07 PM
In the book "Sushi, food for the eye, the body & the soul" is a discussion of the fifth taste, umami, important to Asian food and primarily known from MSG. It says "... in 2001 it was shown that humans and other animals actually have a specific taste receptor for MSG."

I am interested to know if chefs are aware of that fact and, in particular, if they use it to advantage in their cooking. I would guess that people who know Japanese knives probably also know about umami. I am curious to see where this discussion goes.

08-20-2012, 06:33 PM
I'm well of aware of umami, and the role that glutamates play in cuisine. I try to sneak as much miso into dishes as I can without it being the defining taste on the palate. It really helps round things out. Working on a miso/bolete mushroom brined bacon as we speak. Not that miso is the only way to access glutamates, but it's a very accessible and innocuous way to pop a little umami in some ones mouth;) Some others: aged cheeses, seaweeds, tomatoes, cured meats...

Mucho Bocho
08-20-2012, 07:29 PM
I find them useful when you want that super umami zap in flavor. Salad Dressings, marinades, mayonnaise's. I think they all have their place be it fish or soy sauce, amino acids. I never experienced any side effects. Personally I think it gets labeled a chemical that just fuels hysteria. I'm also not against the use of nirtite or nitrate in charcuterie, or STPP or phosphate use for myoglobin retention either. But that's me.

Andrew H
08-20-2012, 07:47 PM
What do people think of using pure msg in dishes? Is it acceptable or is totally different from sauteing mushrooms or using worcestershire? I haven't decided.

08-20-2012, 08:24 PM
I think Brainsausage and Mucho summed up my position pretty well. I don't have any opposition to it, but I try to use umami flavors in the background, if that makes any sense. To answer Andrew, as a home cook/occasional caterer I don't use pure MSG...not because I'm opposed in some way as much as I find other ways to get that umami factor. I have no problems with nitrate in charcuterie either. MSG seems to get more hysteria, but it kind of reminds me of when people get upset to learn that their veggies or starches were prepared using duckfat.

08-20-2012, 08:26 PM
I love using hon dashi in broths, fumets, sauces, foams, spicy tuna, marinades etc... Sooo delicious!!

08-20-2012, 08:30 PM
Well I certainly won't be using any STP any time soon!!

08-20-2012, 11:19 PM
I really appreciate the great responses, it seems that there is a camp that is using unrefined products to add umami to a dish, as noted, mushrooms and tomatoes, cured meat. I always add some anchovies to do the same, especially in my Sunday sauce ( don't tell Nona) just enough that you cannot identify it as itself.
I was most curious about the refined MSG products like Accent'.

08-21-2012, 07:03 AM
I'm semi-sensitive to MSG and know quite a few people who have extreme reactions to it, so I try to stay away. I think MSG's had such a bad rap for so long, some people think its the same as LSD !!!

08-21-2012, 09:54 AM
I buy mine at the Asian market (looks like you are buying bags of drugs) and use it in most of my Chinese dishes.
Was pretty muched raised on it. Worked in a Chinese restaurant as a kid and the chef would scoop the tip of his spatula into some MSG for almost every dish. This was before the "Chinese restaurant syndrome" scare had fully taken effect.

Here is a link to an article that sums up how I feel about MSG:
If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn't everyone in Asia have a headache? (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2005/jul/10/foodanddrink.features3)

08-22-2012, 12:08 AM
I don't use MSG in powder form, but I always consider putting in an umami layer in almost every dish and/or every sauce. One of the things about umami is that it can be conspicuous in it's absence, but an abundance of it doesn't always make the dish more delicious. I think that's why several people have mentioned it being best as a background or accent flavor.


08-22-2012, 08:19 AM
I love using hon dashi in broths, fumets, sauces, foams, spicy tuna, marinades etc... Sooo delicious!!

Never heard of it, but I'm very interested. Give us a hon dashi lesson.

08-22-2012, 11:20 AM
I think he gave a basic intro in the "Stained Glass Window Sushi" thread (http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/7168-Stained-Glass-Window-Sushi?p=121416&viewfull=1#post121416)...