As a concentrated flavoring agent, MSG is frequently used in cooking to enhance the flavor of meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables. It’s sold as a white crystalline powder that appears similar to table salt, generally in shakers or boxes.
As opposed to normal salt, the flavor-enhancing properties of MSG emphasize umami tastes — which makes sense, given the sources where it’s naturally found are all known for a strong savory, umami flavor.
MSG was first isolated in 1908 and is made from sodium and glutamic acid. Despite the popular unscientific myth that long held in the West about MSG being unhealthy, that has more recently been reconsidered as originating less in nutrition and more from prejudices about East Asian cooking. Today, both the FDA and Institute of Food Technologists have found MSG to be a safe ingredient for the general population.
If you’re looking for MSG, Uwajimaya carries it next to the salts in our spice aisle.