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Old 08-01-2009, 08:52 AM   #11
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Not ever having suffered any of the reported side effects from MSG, I still prefer to err on the side of caution when possible and not play Russian Roulette with my health or the health of my guests by deliberately adding MSG to anything coming out of my kitchen.
Do you drink coffee and serve coffee to your guests? There have been numerous reports that coffee is bad for you. What about wine? Same thing. Same with many many many other foods and food products. Do you feel you are playing Russian Roulette with those foods? If not, why not with them, but with MSG?
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Old 08-01-2009, 08:54 AM   #12
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I don't know about the safety aspect, but since its sole purpose is to amplify whatever flavors already exist in a dish, I'd just as soon add more of those flavors.
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Old 08-01-2009, 09:00 AM   #13
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I don't know about the safety aspect, but since its sole purpose is to amplify whatever flavors already exist in a dish, I'd just as soon add more of those flavors.
Do you use salt when you cook? The same reason MSG is used is the very reason salt is used. Actually, MSG IS salt.
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Old 08-01-2009, 09:03 AM   #14
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Do you drink coffee and serve coffee to your guests? There have been numerous reports that coffee is bad for you. What about wine? Same thing. Same with many many many other foods and food products. Do you feel you are playing Russian Roulette with those foods? If not, why not with them, but with MSG?
Not to belabour this, but Yes, I drink red wine - 3,000+ years of history and dozens of independent studies have demonstrated that red wine, in moderation, has many health benefits. As for coffe, there again, recent long term studies have shown that moderate coffee drinking have heart health benefits and debunked some alarmist studies from the 1960s-70s. But, I only drink an average of one cup per day and only make coffee for my guests if they request it. Otherwise I offer them tea, juice or filtered water. I'm careful... not fanatical.
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Old 08-01-2009, 09:38 AM   #15
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Do you use salt when you cook? The same reason MSG is used is the very reason salt is used. Actually, MSG IS salt.
It's not salt, it's salt plus a free amino acid.

As demonstrated by phenylalanine, free amino acids in high concentration (doesn't take much to make a "high" concentration when dealing with aminos) can cause relative deficiencies that lead to all sorts of unintended consequences in human physiology.

I'll stick with salt if I think a dish needs salt.

What blows my mind about MSG is that so many Asian seasonings already contain an enormous amount of salt (being that they salt-pack ferment EVERYTHING over there) - so there really isn't a pressing need to add MORE sodium to the dish.

I don't recall ever, ever having to use straight salt in any of my Asian cooking. If anything, I've had to add sugar to a dish because another ingredient made it too salty.

Besides, there are so many wonderful choices out there for interesting flavorings that can add complexity to an Asian-style (I hate the word inspired, it's so trite) dish that I can't imagine resorting to an amplifier like MSG.
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Old 08-01-2009, 10:01 AM   #16
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Not to belabour this, but Yes, I drink red wine - 3,000+ years of history and dozens of independent studies have demonstrated that red wine, in moderation, has many health benefits. As for coffe, there again, recent long term studies have shown that moderate coffee drinking have heart health benefits and debunked some alarmist studies from the 1960s-70s. But, I only drink an average of one cup per day and only make coffee for my guests if they request it. Otherwise I offer them tea, juice or filtered water. I'm careful... not fanatical.
MSG has been in use longer than red wine and dozens apon dozens upon dozens for independent studies have demonstrated that MSG, in moderation, causes no health problems. Look at Asia. They have been using MSG forever and they are some of the healthiest people there are.
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Old 08-01-2009, 10:09 AM   #17
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It's not salt, it's salt plus a free amino acid.

As demonstrated by phenylalanine, free amino acids in high concentration (doesn't take much to make a "high" concentration when dealing with aminos) can cause relative deficiencies that lead to all sorts of unintended consequences in human physiology.

I'll stick with salt if I think a dish needs salt.

What blows my mind about MSG is that so many Asian seasonings already contain an enormous amount of salt (being that they salt-pack ferment EVERYTHING over there) - so there really isn't a pressing need to add MORE sodium to the dish.

I don't recall ever, ever having to use straight salt in any of my Asian cooking. If anything, I've had to add sugar to a dish because another ingredient made it too salty.

Besides, there are so many wonderful choices out there for interesting flavorings that can add complexity to an Asian-style (I hate the word inspired, it's so trite) dish that I can't imagine resorting to an amplifier like MSG.
Yes it is a salt plus an amino acid. That does not mean it is not a salt. It still is a salt and it is used for the same reason sodium chloride is used in cooking, to enhance flavor. Enhance does not mean add more of the same flavor. It means bring out flavors that would not be present or noticeable on their own without a little help. Have you ever had a vodka sauce? Vodka is basically flavorless. Why add something that is flavorless to food? Because it enhances what is already there. There is a flavor compound in tomatoes that you will never ever taste unless in the presence of alcohol. Adding more tomato will not bring those flavors out. It is the same with MSG. It is a flavor enhancer, just as sodium chloride is a flavor enhancer. Salt and MSG are not interchangeable though so saying you will stick with salt if something needs salt is kind of like saying you will stick with wine beer if something needs alcohol. Yes they are both alcohol, but the affect food in different ways.

As to your point about not needing to add any more salt to your Asian cooking, is that because you use soy sauce? Guess that is in soy sauce?
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Old 08-01-2009, 10:15 AM   #18
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MSG has been in use longer than red wine and dozens apon dozens upon dozens for independent studies have demonstrated that MSG, in moderation, causes no health problems. Look at Asia. They have been using MSG forever and they are some of the healthiest people there are.
According to "Truth In Advertising.org" "Monosodium glutamate" was invented in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo, Japan who noticed that glutamic acid had flavor-enhancing potential. Prior to that time, the Japanese had used seaweed as a favorite flavor enhancer, without understanding that glutamic acid was its flavor-enhancing component. I would say that wine was used just a few years earlier than that!

Also, the science research department of North Carolina might disagree with your statement about it causing no health problems, unless you don't consider obesity a health problem.
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Old 08-01-2009, 10:16 AM   #19
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MSG as a stand alone compound was invented in 1908, but naturally occuring MSG has been in existence a lot longer than wine.
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Old 08-01-2009, 10:25 AM   #20
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As to your point about not needing to add any more salt to your Asian cooking, is that because you use soy sauce? Guess that is in soy sauce?
I use very little soy sauce. Again, there are so many choices out there in Asian cuisine, why would I lean on one specific one all the time?

And there is no MSG in any of the soy sauces I use.

Salty ingredients typically in my rotation:

- Fermented Black Bean Sauce
- Alamang Guisado (sauteed shrimp paste)
- Fish Sauce
- Miso Paste
- Oyster Sauce
- Abalone Sauce

Each give a dish a particular character along with the salt content. And, again, if you know how to look, you can get them without MSG.

You mentioned that Asians have been using MSG for thousands of years - except they haven't. They've been using seaweed extract for thousands of years, which includes all the requisite flavinoids from the seaweed. MSG is an isolation of one particular chemical in the seaweed extract, and it's not even made from seaweed anymore, it's made from fermented sugars (usually beet sugar or molasses) - and they (and we) have only been using it in that form for the last 100 years.

I guess I don't quite understand why you're being so dogmatic (well, that's how it appears, anyway) about using synthesized MSG. I choose not to, because I'm not convinced that it's a safe ingredient. If I'm losing out on some potential enhancement to the food, I guess I'll just have to lose out. I've never had any complaints about my Asian dishes lacking in flavor.

People thought phenylalanine was a safe ingredient for two decades - until people started turning up with MS-like symptoms, elevated glucose levels (despite not eating any sugar) and other much, much worse side effects - all of which ceased after removing the phenylalanine from their diets.
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