MSG. Unami, The 5th Taste, Am I opening pandoras box?
Personally I dont mind a little MSG..some love it some hate it. What do you think? What foods to they add it to besides Chinese Takeout? I always read NO MSG on their menu yet look in ther kitchen and 2/3rds of the time I can spto it from the front counter!
MSG gives me insomnia. At least I think it does. Anchovies, fish sauce and mushrooms are other sources of unami.
There have recently(within the past month) been two or three threads rehashing MSG and umami. My reductive take is that fear of MSG is overblown. People that complain about MSG in Chinese food happily down canned/convenience products that contain MSG. Not to mention, that inscrutable flavor *umami*, is found in many, many foods humans consume beginning with mother's milk.
" ... umami is ... imparted by glutamate and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products."
Some umami-rich foods:
I agree. MSG or "natural seasoning" is used in just about every processed food and widely used in many restaurants, not just Chinese with the big exception of fine dining, home cooking and haute cuisine.
The difference is that in Chinese cooking w/ super hot woks, MSG explodes in the oil and makes a chamical change...and thus it often tastes stronger.
This may be a tangent, but I've wondered if "rotten" or "decaying" is a fifth taste. If I get rotten meat, and someone asks, is it too sweet, or too sour, or too salty, or too bitter? I'd reply no, it's just rotten. Certainly it can give a whole new dimension to food, as many countries' cooks know. Consider Thai nam pla, Vietnamese nuoc mam, Malayan Chinese belacan, Indonesian trassi, or garam, which was wildly popular in ancient Rome.