My journey into cooking with umami and my understanding of MSG started in a surprising way. I was teaching charcuterie at a top culinary school. My class started at 6 AM with a short lecture in that first early hour of class. It was the day when the lecture covered various food additives that find their way into meat systems. Along the way, I made the comment that we were not going to be cooking with MSG. It was a “fact” that I had heard and simply accepted as such. After class, a Filipino student asked me what was wrong with MSG. I said something like “Well, you know it is not good for you.” (How I wish that I had been a better teacher on that day as I was teaching from a lack of knowledge—never a good idea.) My student responded that she did not understand as her mother used MSG every day in their kitchen at home.
I recently attended the first World Umami Forum in NYC. I was outside on a break, and a man not attending the event saw my ID tag and out of the blue, said, “I love umami. It’s my favorite flavor.”
Would he have said that “MSG” was his favorite flavor? Probably not, but he could have. MSG – specifically the “G”, for “glutamate” – is what’s responsible for the powerful appeal of umami flavor.
I love breakfast. Whenever friends or family ask me to go out to eat, I request it be breakfast or brunch. That way I can order bacon. Because it’s the MOST delicious food ever!
Bacon may be considered by many folks to be the most brilliant of breakfast items, but it doesn’t rank high on the health scale. Bacon is high in fat and high in sodium. But recently, having breakfast at Philadelphia’s Front Street Café, I tasted one of the new vegetarian bacon alternatives. My pork swap was for a smoked mushroom bacon. This new version was lower in fat and sodium. And delicious.
The current U.S. dietary recommendations emphasize the need for Americans to significantly reduce sodium in their diets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90 percent of all Americans eat too much sodium in their daily diets.
But for those of us who love salty foods and are used to grabbing the salt shaker the minute dinner is served, how do we lower our sodium intake without sacrificing taste? A recent research study on monosodium glutamate (MSG) and its effect on palatability is enlightening. The results are pretty tasty if we say so ourselves. While we’ve addressed MSG and taste in several of our blogs here at MSGdish, this research offers further proof of how important MSG can be to enhance the flavor of food (in this case, spicy soups).
Does umami, which means “delicious” in Japanese, affect appetite? Can the umami flavor provide or heighten satiety?
It is well-recognized that as the fifth sense of taste, umami amplifies the flavor of savory foods, increasing the enjoyment and pleasure in eating. It also enhances appetite — the feeling of wanting to eat food. Interestingly enough, research has shown that the umami flavor can also heighten satiety — the satisfaction of being full.