Skip to comments.How a bowl of seaweed soup in 1908 brought us the (unfairly maligned) additive known as MSG
Posted on 01/12/2014 2:21:14 PM PST by rickmichaels
In 1908, over a bowl of seaweed soup, Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda asked a question that would change the food industry forever: What gave dashi, a ubiquitous Japanese soup base, its meaty flavor?
In Japanese cuisine, dashi, a fermented base made from boiled seaweed and dried fish, was widely used by chefs to add extra oomph to meals pairing well with other savory, but meatless foods such as vegetables and soy. For some reason that was generally accepted but inexplicable, dashi made these meatless foods meaty and Ikeda was determined to find out why.
Ikeda was able to isolate the main substance of dashi the seaweed Laminaria japonica. He then took the seaweed and ran it through a series of chemical experiments, using evaporation to isolate a specific compound within the seaweed. After days of evaporating and treating the seaweed, he saw the development of a crystalline form. When he tasted the crystals, he recognized the distinct savory taste that dashi lent to other foods, a taste that he deemed umami, from the Japanese umai (delicious). It was a breakthrough that challenged a cornerstone of culinary thinking: Instead of four tastes sweet, salty, bitter and sour there were now five. A new frontier of taste had been discovered, and Ikeda wasted no time monopolizing on his discovery.
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Dashi does make everything taste wonderful.
Love seaweed. Hate MSG/Aspartame.
Aspartame gives me a headache and I have a friend that gets sick eating MSG.
I want umami!
Aspartame gives me a headache too, and has a terrible metallic taste. If I accidentally take one sip.
Hubby got sick at a friends anniversary party. He finally asked what the punch was. Hawaiin Punch with ginger ale. Hawaiin Punch has Aspartame.
What is the pill your wife takes?
Here is “The Chef’s List” of the characteristics of food, combinations of which define the great recipes.
The five primary flavors are sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory(umami).
The six secondary flavors are spicy (piquance or pungency), fatty or oily, coolness (like minty, menthol or camphor), astringent (like alum or lemon), heartiness (like alcohol), and numbness (like nutmeg or clove).
A good argument can be made for fizzy (carbonated) and foamy, as if not as secondary flavors than perhaps tertiary ones, more oriented towards textures, like crunchy, chewy, crispy, crystalline, powdery, earthy, fishy, juicy, squashy, runny, solid, hard, soft, tough, soggy, firm, and creamy.
Finally there is the “mouth feel” subgroup.
Cohesiveness: Degree to which the sample deforms before rupturing
when biting with molars.
Density: Compactness of cross section of the sample after biting
completely through with the molars.
Dryness: Degree to which the sample feels dry in the mouth.
Fracturability: Force with which the sample crumbles, cracks or
shatters. Fracturability encompasses crumbliness, crispiness,
crunchiness and brittleness.
Graininess: Degree to which a sample contains small grainy particles.
Gumminess: Energy required to disintegrate a semi-solid food to a
state ready for swallowing.
Hardness: Force required to deform the product to given distance,
i.e., force to compress between molars, bite through with incisors,
compress between tongue and palate.
Heaviness: Weight of product perceived when first placed on tongue.
Moisture absorption: Amount of saliva absorbed by product.
Moisture release: Amount of wetness/juiciness released from sample.
Mouthcoating: Type and degree of coating in the mouth after
mastication (for example, fat/oil).
Roughness: Degree of abrasiveness of product’s surface perceived by
Slipperiness: Degree to which the product slides over the tongue.
Smoothness: Absence of any particles, lumps, bumps, etc., in the product.
Uniformity: Degree to which the sample is even throughout; homogeneity.
Uniformity of Bite: Evenness of force through bite.
Uniformity of Chew: Degree to which the chewing characteristics
of the product are even throughout mastication.
Viscosity: Force required to draw a liquid from a spoon over the tongue.
Wetness: Amount of moisture perceived on product’s surface.
MSG is the devil’s work. That stuff puts me in the hospital with a severe migraine.
Please share. What is it?
I heard that there is a gene carried by a very small percentage of the population that makes aspartame taste horrible. Makes sense; most of my friends cannot taste the difference between regular and diet pop but the diet pop makes me gag.
Are you going to keep the name a secret?
The name is “MSG Buster”.
I tolerate MSG in smaller doses but aspartame gives me major headaches with just a small amount and I get sick if I have a larger amount.
I also try to avoid MSG, soy - evil stuff - and sulfites. My mom is allergic to sulfites. There is something in Dr. Pepper that makes me sick but not sure what. Guess one of those 23 secret ingredients.
I always try to read labels and you can’t even trust something you have bought for years because they can change with no warning. I used to buy different brands of gum with no problem, then one time I got a massive sick headache and I looked and Wrigley had added aspartame to a non sugar free gum. Then I went and looked at some of the other gums and several had also added aspartame. So I basically stopped buying gum.
nada. zip. nothing.
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