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DonRocks

MSG, Umami, and Molecular Gastronomy

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I can't see how a salt of glutamate can cause people harm (other than highblood pressure for ingest too much sodium). It's one of the 20 essential amino acids, therefore, anyplace, where there is protein, there is also glutamate. I wonder if the side effect people reports for ingesting too much MSG is actually the result of side products or residual starting materials of MSG synthesis rather than MSG itself.

But in this case, isn't MSG literally the exact same substance as what would be found in Nature? From a chemical perspective, it is irrelevant whether the sodium salt of l-glutamic acid were produced in a factory or in a frog's digestive system, or in a bacterium--at the end of the day, it is still the sodium salt of l-glutamic acid. What are the manipulations?

I think its true if MSG is produced from enzymatic reactions, however, both L and D stereoisomers can occur through organic synthesis. I think the method that produces MSG is more relevant to the discussion about MSG toxicity.

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I think its true if MSG is produced from enzymatic reactions, however, both L and D stereoisomers can occur through organic synthesis. I think the method that produces MSG is more relevant to the discussion about MSG toxicity.

According to the Wikipedia article, only the L-stereoisomer has any flavor, but I don't know if that has something to do with the 99% purity in that image.

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Korean fried chicken doesn't use MSG

I can't speak for Korean fried chicken in general, but I certainly believe that Bon Chon uses a lot of MSG in their preparation.

Incidentally, when I called Honey Pig (Gooldaegee) for my carryout order last night, I asked if it would be possible to get it with no MSG. The girl on the phone laughed (not in a mocking way; in a friendly way), and said, "no, that would be impossible."

(It's not my goal to beat this MSG horse to death, which is why I'm confining these comments to this thread.)

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Add a bit of fish sauce to any marinade. The reaction you get will make you a believer in umami. That said, there is no reason why "umami" needs to mean MSG.

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8 hours ago, mnnchas said:

I listened to this a while back, on the origins of the belief that MSG is bad for you  (fake news :) ) https://www.thisamericanlife.org/668/transcript.  

That's a wild story! I've heard David Chang rant about the myth MSG is bad for you many times, but I've never heard the story you posted. 

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There are people with allergies and sensitivities to gluten, sulfites, and yes, MSG. However, double blind experiments suggest that the actual occurrence of reactions is far smaller than self reported. 

My only issue with MSG added in pure form is that it can be a crutch to cover over indifferent cooking. There is nothing wrong in using MSG per se, but I think great cooking loooks to natural surces of MSG for layering of flavor. Adding a well aged naturally brewed soy sauce, or miso, is the equivalent of adding MSG. In fact, it IS adding MSG. But it is also adding many flavanoids, textures, other ferment compounds etc. Adding pure MSG powder is just adding a single component.

I watch a lot of you tube videos of Chinese cooking in China. MSG does not wind up in every dish. There are dishes where it is stated as necessary, some where it is listed as optional and many where it is not mentioned at all. In this last category, you will almost always find things like soy, fermented bean pastes & chicken stock powder {which undoubtedly contains MSG.} In Korean & Jpanese cooking, most recipes I see do not have MSG but have umami bomb ingredients like shrimp brine, dried fish, seaweed, fish sauce. Again, you will find MSG added in pure form, but in specific, selected recipes. 

I owuld rather see isolated, pure MSG use minimized thru the careful layering of flavors with either MSG containing ingredients or other forms of umami containing ingredients.  Then, if a dish needs that particular, sharp, tingle that a sprinkle of MSG add, add it. 

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