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How can I change recipe to omit the MSG?

One of my favorite recipes my aunt makes has MSG in it. How can I substitute the ramen noodle seasoning in this Asian salad recipe?

2 chicken breasts cooked and chopped (I use Southwestern Grilled strips)
2 oz toasted slivered almonds
1 package shredded cabbage mixture
2 green onions chopped
Ramon Noodles (Chicken Flavor)
(I put the ramon noodles in a sandwich bag and hit them with a rolling pin to crumble them up smaller)

Mix all of the above together


3 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
*1 package of seasoning mix (from the Ramon Noodles)*
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Refrigerate 1 hour

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  1. You say it's Asian salad, but if the noodles are Ramon noodles, isn't this a Spanish version? (Ok, weak joke, lol.)

    I take it the MSG is in the seasoning mix? If so, perhaps this recipe would substitute: http://www.food.com/recipe/oriental-r... (be sure to look at the Reviews tab for some more ideas and caveats).

    (Personally, I have no problem with MSG.)

    1. Make it without the seasoning mix, and add salt to taste.

      1. Assuming that there is some reason why you don't want MSG in the ingredients, first check and make sure that the Southwest Style chicken breasts you are using do not already have MSG as an ingredient.

        Now for a replacement to the seasoning pack in the Ramen noodles, look into a boullion paste. Something like "Better than Boullion" pastes sold in jars or the "Flavor Boost" pouches that Swanson recently introduced.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Springhaze2

          I found this on the better than bullion website. I love their stuff!
          Is Autolyzed Yeast Extract the same as MSG? Is it in Better than Bouillon?
          Autolyzed Yeast Extract is an ingredient used by food companies as a flavor enhancer. It is not chemically the same as MSG, but it does contain naturally occurring glutamates, resulting from the process used to break yeast down into its component parts. If Autolyzed Yeast Extract is present in any of our items, it will be shown on the label. We work closely with government regulatory agencies (FDA & USDA), as well as specialist certification bodies like Quality Assurance International (for organic items) to ensure that our ingredient statements are accurate and transparent.

          1. re: carlee134

            *love* better than bullion -- it's pure gold.

            1. re: sunshine842

              I don't know whether that's an intentional pun or a typo, but it got a chuckle out of me either way.

              1. re: Scrofula

                Carlee's was a typo - mine was an intentional pun.

              2. re: sunshine842

                But does a paste like this dissolve in a dressing well enough?

                B-T-B is a brand of soup base that is marketed to home cooks. You can get similar pastes in restaurant sizes at your favorite warehouse store (brands like Tone).

            2. Without knowing what brand of ramen noodles the flavor packet is supposed to be taken from, you pretty much have carte blanche, because I don't think there is ANY brand of ramen noodles that doesn't have a least three or four types of "chicken flavor." You can buy ramen noodles with flavor packets that run the gamut from Mexican food to mac and cheese, BUT...

              If the recipe is for an "Asian" salad, and it uses a :chicken flavor" packet, I would simply leaver out the flavor packet and substitute a dash of toasted sesame oil (I use Kadoya brand from Japan available in any Asian market), and maybe a dash of Kikkoman soy sauce as well.

              I was going to suggest some "Instant dashinomoto" but I just read the label on my Hanasia brand, and it does have MSG in it, soooooo... Try the sesame oil and soy sauce, but be careful with how much you use. Unless, of course, you LOVE toasted sesame oil...!!! '-) I tend to get a bit carried away with it. '-)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Caroline1

                Agreed. I've been making that salad for about 20 years. We started adding Asian seasonings to the dressing a long time ago. And dropped the sugar.

                DO wonder what the aversion to MSG is though.

              2. This is pretty simple: use a no MSG chicken base or bouillon with some of the spices listed on the ingredients .

                1. In an Asian grocery you might find a mushroom seasoning, that is intended to be an alternative to MSG.


                  Unfortunately it only comes in 500g bags, about $6 or more, so I have not experimented with it yet.

                  1. There are all natural/organic chicken ramen, this one would be a good substitute:

                    Or the company "annie chung" also makes one
                    They are usually in the health food aisle or at whole foods, same flavoring but msg-free

                    1. Thank you all for the great ideas. I do need to check my grilled chicken strips.

                      As for why I have removed MSG from my diet, my Dr had me read a passage from a book about MSG and neuron death. Here is a review of the book http://americannutritionassociation.o... . I already manage depression caused from neurons not receiving serotonin properly. Sorry if TMI. So avoiding MSG can't hurt. It does cause my husband headaches as well.

                      1. You have to be careful with substitutes as MSG is often hidden in foods under a variety of other names such as "yeast extract". They can put "No MSG" on the label when it actually does have it, just under another name.

                        I think the suggestion for soy sauce and sesame oil is good, I would also suggest using rice wine vinegar instead of regular vinegar. You could maybe try some fish sauce too, but that is essentially MSG itself too, since the fermentation process produces some type of acid that is very close to MSG.

                        Keep in mind, there is MSG that occurs naturally in foods too, such as tomatoes, walnuts, and parmesan cheese.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Atomic76

                          There used to be a chinese restaurant in Victoria that advertised they used no MSG. Instead they used "Wine Sauces" for added flavor.
                          They folded a few years ago. Something about the 'Chinese Mafia'.

                        2. Another possible substitute for getting an "Asian" flavor would be Thai fish sauce. I currently have the Cock brand on my pantry shelf, and there are only three ingredients in it: anchovies (68%), sugar (5%), and salt (27%). It has a distinct "Asian" flavor, though I would also use the sesame oil, maybe a little mirin and/or rice vinegar. If you have an Asian or Thai market near you, check out the fish sauces. They're inexpensive and loaded with flavor.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Caroline1

                            Any condiment derived by fermenting a high protein source (e.g. soy sauce, fish sauce) is going to be high in glutamates. Basically what you are calling "Asian" flavor Asians would call umami which means glutamates.