When Escoffier created veal stock, he was concentrating umami. When Japanese made their dashi, they did the same.
There are so many misconceptions about MSG and for a good reason. In every corner in South east Asia you’ll find it. This year I spent 3 weeks in Cambodia and chased the rural areas in search of modest techniques. Going back to the basics, eating insects was not my thing but I did encounter. Ikeda went into his lab and found the secret ingredient. He wrote in a journal for the Chemical Society of Tokyo that it was glutamic acid, but he decided to rename it. He called it “umami,” which means delicious taste.
Free glutamate (called monosodium glutamate) is often used as a flavor enhancer to bring out the flavor of some foods. Such foods as tomatoes and mushrooms contain extremely high levels of free glutamate. Glutamate is found in most living things, but when they die, when organic matter breaks down, the glutamate molecule breaks apart. This can happen on a stove when you cook meat, over time when you age a Parmesan cheese, by fermentation as in soy sauce or under the sun as a tomato ripens. When glutamate becomes L-glutamate, that’s when things get “delicious.” L-glutamate, said Ikeda, is a fifth taste.
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