Favorite Foods With MSG 😱

Thanks for the request, B.J.! While I don't eat a lot of the processed foods that contain added monosodium glutamate (ex: Doritos, Taco Bell), I have no problem with it. Studies have shown that while it might cause some slight side effects like headaches for some people, it's not harmful.
  1. The table shaker at Mission Chinese Food SF
    I'm not sure if the NYC location has these, but at the SF location, you'll find a salt shaker on your table with the label "MSG." MSG is best known in Chinese food because it makes it very easy to impart umami flavor (umami means deep savoriness; think beef, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes). While many people make a big deal about ordering their food with "NO MSG!" Mission Chinese considers it authentic (it is), and therefore gives diners the option of adding it themselves. I do and it tastes amazing!
  2. Seaweed salad
    I love seaweed salad at sushi restaurants, but did you know that, for the most part, even the best sushi restaurants do not make their own? They get it prepared and, yes, it does contain MSG.
  3. Fish sauce
    I LOVE fish sauce. It's a huge staple of Southeast Asian cooking, and is perhaps best known as the main ingredient in nuoc cham, the savory-sweet dipping sauce that comes with your Vietnamese fresh spring rolls or noodle salad (bun). When MSG is added, it takes on a rich umami flavor that is hard to replicate. But if you're worried about it, try the Red Boat brand -- it's MSG-free and quite good.
  4. Bouillon Cubes
    I generally make my own broth (note to self: make a list about bone broth), but do rely on bouillon cubes occasionally for quick broth-making. And yeah. Total MSG bombs.
  5. Parmesan cheese
    Did you know that a form of MSG occurs naturally?! It happens when glutamate, an amino acid found in cheese, bonds with the cheese's sodium and water. You know how Parm is so deeply savory, almost meaty? Well that is thanks to MSG! And it's delicious!
  6. Hondashi broth powder
    I use this to make quick Japanese dashi for soups (the homemade kind is great but requires kombu and bonito flakes and I don't always have those on hand). Full of MSG.