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Nov 7, 2012 12:42 PM

Mushroom Seasoning? from C-Mart

On a whim, I bought a bag of this at C-Mart (in the back where the seaweed and fermented black beans are). No mention of MSG on the label, just "mushroom extract" and salt, but this bag of dissolvable white pellets tastes surprisingly MSG-ish.

A tiny bit is not bad for upping the umami of a vegetarian noodle broth/miso soup.

Anyone cooked with this, or know what it is, or its traditional uses? Please clue me in.

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  1. Umami = free glutamate and/or nucleosides. Mushrooms have plenty, that's why they make things tasty. Another good source of these umami compounds is the products of microbial fermentations (the source of yeast extract and industrially purified MSG).

    1. I haven't used it myself but it sounds like good stuff. Your post reminded me of this blog entry by Andrea Nguyen at VietWorldKitchen about mushroom seasoning.

      3 Replies
      1. re: seamunky

        Yes, thanks! The bag she displays is the very same one I bought. Plus this is a really cool website I didn't know about.

        Luther (and others), what do you think about this comment on that blog? "The mushroom culture is probably "fed" with MSG or MSG compounds (generally speaking), and at maturity, dried and powdered." Anyone have a clue about how this stuff is made?

        1. re: femmevox

          You're gonna get much more info if you cross post this to the home cooking or general topics threads. (or is there another board that talks mostly about ingredients?)

          eta: I want to know and there are a LOT of food science nerds on this site.

          1. re: femmevox

            As a scientist who knows microbiology but has no specific mushroom knowledge, it sounds like hogwash to me, but I couldn't tell you for sure.

            For your own high-umami mushroom powder, just take regular dried black mushsrooms or porcini and run them in the food processor until it's powder. This is what rlee21 suggess below. Kenji on Serious Eats frequently uses powdered dried mushrooms (homemade) as an umami component in recipes he's testing.

        2. I have long used the mushroom granules as essentially equivalent to MSG since it adds the same umami flavor aspect that one gets from glutamate, no matter what its form. I have also powdered dried shiitake for a similar effect.

          1. I bought a bag at Ming's years ago. I love it, but somewhere along the line I read a post that said there are fakes on the market, so I started to become suspicious of the contents. My bag lists ASP as an ingredient - aspartic acid - an enzyme originally isolated from asparagus according to wikipedia.
            Dave Change mentions a similar product in the first Lucky Peach in the piece about creating a new ramen broth for his restaurants - Sodium-5, derived from powdered mushrooms. They were intrigued by the possibilities but settled on grinding dried mushrooms. I'm paraphrasing.

            3 Replies
            1. re: deglazer

              Aspartic acid is one of the 20 amino acids that comprise the building blocks of every protein in your body. It is identical to glutamic acid except that its negatively-charged side chain is one carbon shorter. It is not an enzyme.

                1. re: Luther

                  Thank you, good call. After re-reading the wikipedia entry, I don't know how I even came up with that!

              1. I have used it in soups, sauces, and gravies and this stuff is fantastic!! I've been cooking since I was a child, and I have grandchildren, so I know my way around the kitchen.

                I will never be without it in my pantry. It's the best flavor enhancer in my kitchen.