monosodium glutamate (MSG)

monosodium glutamate (MSG)

White crystalline substance, a sodium salt of the amino acid glutamic acid. MSG is used to intensify the natural flavour of meats and vegetables. It elicits a unique taste, called in Japan umami, different from the four basic tastes. Originally derived from seaweed and first used in Japan in 1908, it has become a common ingredient in Chinese and Japanese cooking. MSG in large amounts may have physical effects, including an allergic reaction commonly called “Chinese restaurant syndrome.”

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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