Master It | Cooking
The Transformative Power of MSG for the Home Cook
The misunderstood life of salt’s big brother.
Love it or fear it, MSG is everywhere.
It’s in your soups, your condiments, and even in parmesan cheese. But what is it?
Let’s Dispel Some Rumours First
MSG is described as a flavour enhancer, a title held by a group of compounds that can be added to food to enhance their natural flavour. It is not a Frankenstein chemical that you should be afraid of and it is no different to the hundreds of different additives you consume daily.
You may have heard that many people associate headaches, dizziness and palpitations with this miracle seasoning, however, did you know that these myths were founded in 1968 when the New England Journal of Medicine received a letter claiming that Chinese food was causing these ailments? This very same letter was quickly found to be a hoax, yet it spurred dozens of medical studies into the effects of MSG on the public — all of which have concluded that there are no measurable dangers from consuming MSG.
In January 2020, comedian and chef Eddie Huang teamed up with Jeannie Mai to expose the unfair prejudices towards MSG.
But What Does It Do?
MSG is primarily added to foods to increase the umami levels in a dish. If you aren’t sure what umami is, it is the fifth basic taste:
The Five Basic tastes
- Umami (This one)
It is typically described as being savoury, or meaty like hearty stews and roasted mushrooms; also, it is associated with the annoyingly vague quality of mouth-feel.
Umami is the most recently discovered taste, but one…