Monosodium Glutamate

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

monosodium glutamate (MSG). Marketed in Japan and elsewhere as Aji-no-moto (‘the essence of taste’), in China as wei jing (‘the essence of flavour’), in SE Asia as Ve-tsin, in the West as Accent and under other trade names, MSG is a flavour-enhancing chemical compound which, when added to food, creates the flavour of umami (see also flavour, taste). It seems to make the tongue, and to a lesser extent the palate, more receptive to savoury, salty tastes. It therefore makes bland food more interesting, and has been widely used by the food-processing industry throughout the world. It is also used by chefs and cooks in some Asian and oriental-style restaurants, and in domestic kitchens in some Asian countries.