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MSG in the Kitchen

MSG in the Kitchen

Cooking Facts and Fallacies

Quick Tips on Cooking with MSG


Cooking Facts and Fallacies

FACT: MSG can improve the flavor of many, but not all foods.
The foods MSG works best with usually contain some protein already, such as meats, poultry, and vegetable dishes. It also harmonizes well with salty and sour tastes, making it effective in various sauces and dressings. But it does little at all for sweet foods such as cakes, pastries and puddings. Likewise, MSG does not enhance recipes that are primarily made up of dairy foods. For example, a custard, milkshake or white sauce wouldn't benefit from the addition of MSG. However, a cream of vegetable soup would be great with MSG since it contains some protein ingredients (the vegetables).

FALLACY: MSG makes food taste saltier.
Contrary to popular belief, MSG is not a high-sodium ingredient. It does contain some sodium, but it's less than 1/3 the amount contained in an equal portion of regular table salt. Table salt contains 2,400 mg per teaspoon of sodium while MSG has only 700 mg of sodium per teaspoon. In addition, most recipes do not call for adding an entire teaspoon of MSG. Therefore, per serving, the amount of sodium added to a dish when MSG is used is quite minimal—certainly not enough to render a dish "salty." It will, however, have a positive impact on the overall savory flavor of the dish. The increased flavor level of the dish will be noticeable when an MSG-enhanced dish is compared with one without added MSG.

FACT: MSG is a NOT a meat tenderizer.
Although monosodium glutamate is sometimes added to meat tenderizers, MSG itself does not act as a meat tenderizer. It functions as a flavor enhancer only, and that's why it's added to meat tenderizers—for an extra flavor boost!

FALLACY: MSG can make bad food taste better.
No. It's a myth that using monosodium glutamate can "cover up" bad-tasting food or allow a cook to substitute low quality ingredients for high quality ones. MSG only enhances the flavors that are already present; it doesn't add new ones or mask "off" flavors. If the ingredients aren't great, then the dish will not be great.