Accent seasoning, its history and use in modern cooking
We hear a lot and quite often about accent seasoning but what is it exactly? With millions of consumers expressing a desire to lower the amount of salt – sodium chloride – in their daily diets, stress typically has been placed on cutting out any ingredient with the word “sodium” in it. But removal of all things sodium means that the same consumers are missing out one of the most effective salt-lowering solutions they can get: monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Let’s take a look at the history of accent seasoning and how it landed in the United States.
Accent seasoning is basically a flavor enhancer and was only introduced to the United States in the 1970s. Originally it was developed for use in the food industry, but soon found its way into home kitchens as well.
Whether you are a fan of accent seasoning or simply want to learn about it (like I do), it would be interesting to know a few curious facts about this “mystery” seasoning and a “secret” ingredient that has a remarkable ability to ”wake up” the food flavor and has been used by generations since 1947 worldwide. The seasoning is still often misunderstood, despite numerous scientific studies and articles over the decades that clear its name. And even for those that aren’t MSG-phobic, there is still a shroud of mystery surrounding how to incorporate it into a regular arsenal of seasonings.
Accent seasoning enhances flavors of different dishes when added to soups, sauces, dips, salad dressings, popcorn, vegetables, casseroles, salads, stews, poultry, meats, fish, noodles, tofu and pretty much every savory dish that you can think of including all your go-to meals. Accent seasoning is an essential addition to your spice rack. It has 60 percent less sodium than salt, which is ideal if you are watching your intake. It’s also certified Kosher, Halal and allergen free.
Accent seasoning produces a subtle and unique taste which is called “umami” in Japan and is described as a broth-like, savory taste. In Asian countries Umami is considered the fifth basic taste in addition to sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Its characteristics can also be described as “meaty”, “zesty” and “complex”. Umami means “essence of deliciousness” in Japanese. Why so many descriptions? Because its taste is completely separate to the four other taste sensations. Intriguing, right? It has also been researched that our taste receptors pick up umami from foods that contain high levels of amino acid glutamate.
Do you want to know how accent seasoning made its way to the United States and became so popular with chefs and home cooks? It all started with a Japanese company called Ajinomoto. It was the same company that has developed MSG which stands for monosodium glutamate. This seasoning is widely used in Asian cuisine to add flavor to various dishes.
The process used to make accent seasoning is very similar to the fermentation process used to make yogurt, vinegar and beer. In fact, using glutamate goes back more than 1,200 years, when cooks in Asia have discovered that many foods tasted better when prepared using soup stock instead of seaweed. In 1908, Professor Kikunae Ikeda of the University of Tokyo, also known as the discoverer of the umami taste, determined that it was the glutamate from the seaweed that had flavor-enhancing properties. He started to develop umami taste from Konbu seaweed.
In 1908. Dr. Ikeda acquired patent for manufacturing seasoning (monosodium glutamate). Mr. Saburosuke Suzuki II, a Japanese businessman, acquired a joint share of the above-mentioned patent with Dr. Ikeda. In 1920, a S. Suzuki and Co., Ltd was established in New York. In 1946, the company’s name was changed to Ajinomoto Co., Inc and in 1947 the resumption of Ajinomoto started to the United States.
In the late 1970s, Ajinomoto decided to expand its business in the United States. Ajinomoto Group was the first company in the world to develop and market a commercial seasoning, made from glutamic acid, the taste of umami. The blend for the American market was called accent seasoning and it ended up being a hit for American cooks.
Today, glutamate is widely used in Japan, and is usually found tableside for everyday use exactly the same way we always have salt on the table.
Glutamate is actually a product that is found in our bodies and in many foods including cheese, tomatoes and beets. The glutamate in accent seasoning is made from corn.
Now that you know what accent seasoning is, go out and experiment with it in your kitchen!
MSG Safety Concerns
Most consumers in the recent years have been concerned about health benefits of accent seasoning. Accent seasoning is healthy. It can boost your metabolism, improve your digestion and boost your immune system.
Although MSG has long been the subject of vague safety concerns, scientists and health experts alike have proven time and again that MSG is safe for people to consume. MSG has been studied extensively and its safety has been affirmed by many international organizations including WHO, FAO and FDA.
Myths about Accent seasoning (MSG)
Myth 1: People are allergic to monosodium glutamate
According to Ajinamoto, there have been double blind placebo tests done and none of the subjects that said they are allergic showed any allergic reaction to MSG. Glutamate is the most abundant amino acid in all proteins on earth and is found naturally in a lot of foods we eat such as cheese, beef, poultry, mushrooms, tomatoes, soya sauce etc. Glutamate contributed by MSG seasoning is just a small percentage of the glutamate consumed every day as a part of normal, healthy diet. Monosodium glutamate is the salt of an amino-acid – one of the most abundant amino acids in our diet. Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins, whether in our food or our bodies. Glutamate is found in food either “bound” into protein or as “free” glutamate. “Bound”
glutamate becomes “free” as protein breaks down – when meat or cheese are aged, for instance, or when food proteins are digested.
Another interesting fact is that the glutamate from MSG seasoning and the glutamate from other foods are treated by our bodies in exactly the same way. Most of the glutamate we consume, whether naturally occurring in food or as seasoning, doesn’t enter our bloodstream, it is used by the cells lining the digestive tract for energy. Our bodies also make glutamate as part of normal metabolism, and our major organs store glutamate. There is about 10 grams of free glutamate in our bodies, of which 6 grams are stored in our muscles.
Myth 2: Monosodium glutamate is addictive
Several regulatory agencies around the world have certified monosodium glutamate (MSG) as a safe product and there is no evidence that is causes addiction or any other type of damage to health.
Myth 3: Monosodium glutamate causes cancer
MSG is even used by renowned doctors in the field of oncology to help patients undergoing chemotherapy, as those who undergo this kind of treatment suffer from loss of taste and decreased salivation.
Myth 4: Monosodium glutamate has a lot of sodium
Monosodium glutamate has 1/3 of the amount of sodium found in table salt, therefore it is a great ally in reducing sodium in food preparations. If you use a teaspoon of salt to make a dish, use ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of monosodium glutamate. This way, the flavor of the dish will be maintained and the sodium content will be reduced.
Myth 5: Monosodium glutamate causes migraines
Migraine involves many factors, such as family predisposition, sleep deprivation, many hours without eating etc. In January 2018, the International Headache Society recognized that monosodium glutamate doesn’t cause migraines.
Myth 6: There is a limit to the safe consumption of monosodium glutamate
During product safety evaluation, testing has demonstrated that there is no need to establish a numerical value for the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI). Thus, they defined an “unspecified” ADI for this additive, which is the safest class for food additives.
Myth 7: Monosodium glutamate consumption contributes to the development of health problems
Several regulatory bodies around the world have certified MSG as a safe product and there is no evidence that it causes any harm to health.
Fun Facts about Accent seasoning (MSG)
Did you know?
- It is found in our everyday food. Glutamate occurs naturally in the human body and in many delicious foods we consume on a daily basis, including but not limited to cured meats, mushrooms, corn, beets, instant noodle products, frozen foods, processed meats, condiments, seasoning blends, cheese, fish and even green tea – and the list goes on!
- Salt reduction with MSG can not only enrich our diet, but also contribute to solving global health issues. Sodium chloride, or table salt, is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease. The use of accent seasoning may be the key to reducing sodium content without sacrificing taste.
- Accent seasoning has distinct properties that are quite unique. Its taste spreads across the tongue. It lasts and lingers much longer than other basic tastes. It provides a mouth-watering sensation.
- Accent seasoning allows us to reduce sodium in food preparations, the harmonization of recipes, the increase in salivation, which contributes to better digestion and oral hygiene.
- Umami was discovered 100 years ago in Japan. The first discovery took place in 1908, when Professor Kikunae Ikeda identified Glutamate as the key compound that gives konbu seaweed its umami flavor. He was actually enjoying a bowl of kelp broth called konbu dashi, when he noticed that the savory flavor was distinct from the four basic tastes of sweet, sour, bitter and sweet.
Accent seasoning is extremely versatile and can be added to just about any dish. It is indeed a powerful tool for cooks of all levels. Whether you are looking to spice up your everyday cooking or just want to add a bit of flavor to your favorite recipe, accent seasoning is the way to go. You can find accent seasoning in most grocery stores or buy it online from major retailers. So, next time you are cooking, put a pinch of accent seasoning into your soups, pasta sauce, meat marinades, salad dressings and stir-fries. Accent seasoning doesn’t add extra calories, unnecessary color or unwanted, complex tastes. It just brings depth of flavor.
Global recipes with MSG
If you are a passionate cook wanting to explore recipes from around the world without leaving your kitchen, then the accent seasoningis a must have in your pantry! Try accent seasoningrecipes inspired by various cultures and flavors from all over the globe. And it is definitely not only limited to Japanese culture.
If you love Asian cuisine, you can try Mutton Masala, Minced Chicken with Egg Tofu, Popcorn Chicken, Fried Fish with Sweet and Sour Sauce, Thai Style Tofu, Deep Fried Wontons, Prawns with Glass Noodles, Chicken with Green Curry and more.
Or why not travel to South America and try one of the following: Chicken Ceviche, Flamenco Style Eggs, Paella, Cream of Corn with Parmesan Lace, Broccoli and Mushroom Empanadas, Corn Ribs, Marinated Sardines, Sweet Tamales or Tuna Ceviche with Avo?
And if you prefer something more traditional, settle for Zesty Orange Grilled Chicken, Spice Rubbed Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks, Glazed Pork Chops and Pear Casserole; Beer Brined Pineapple Pork Chops, Beer Can Roasted Chicken or old good Southwest Chicken and White Bean Chili!
Discover recipe ideas to help you get the maximum value from your kitchen and look for accent seasoningat your favorite supermarket!
So, know your MSG next time you buy Accent seasoning!
- It is plant derived – made from plants like corn and sugar cane
- It is backed by science – verified as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)
- It is made via fermentation – MSG is created through fermentation