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Taste No. 5

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^

That's what most people say. You could say the same for Worcestershire sauce, tomato ketchup, balsamic vinegar, etc.


Best Wishes,

Chee Fai.

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Sounds like a very impressive product! (provided that it doesn't contain MSG)

I don't think we have such products in Japan. We have:

Ajinomoto (product name of MSG)

and other products containing Ajinomoto, such as dashinomoto (instant dashi).

We also have this product:

Weiper (sp?), which enhances the flavor of any Chinese dish. As you can easily imagine, this product also contains MSG.

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There are lots of similar products in Japan, but I think they probably don't attract much attention (and maybe the same is true of the Taste No. 5 product?).

Taste No. 5 seems to be basically umami-rich Italian flavor base...Japan can give you any number of products based on herbs with added umami, though these usually use MSG and only rarely kombu or dried funghi, and even a Kagome jelly dressing product called Toma-pon Gele - tomato and yuzu flavored.

As for MSG-free products with a Japanese taste, I guess they are so entrenched that people just think of them as seasonings with extra depth...e.g. miso with dashi flavoring, soy sauce with funghi, kelp, and/or seafood such as dried shellfish or squid.

Lots of people make the same kind of all-purpose seasoning mix that I use - soy sauce and mirin, with some konbu (kelp) and dried shiitake tossed into the jar.

The Umami Choumiryou Kyoukai (Umami Seasonings Association) sponsors a bilingual website Umami Information Center which does discuss umami in non-Japanese foods, though doesn't promote specific products.

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As for MSG-free products with a Japanese taste, I guess they are so entrenched that people just think of them as seasonings with extra depth...e.g. miso with dashi flavoring, soy sauce with funghi, kelp, and/or seafood such as dried shellfish or squid.

Lots of people make the same kind of all-purpose seasoning mix that I use - soy sauce and mirin, with some konbu (kelp) and dried shiitake tossed into the jar.

The Umami Choumiryou Kyoukai (Umami Seasonings Association) sponsors a bilingual website Umami Information Center which does discuss umami in non-Japanese foods, though doesn't promote specific products.

Helen, thanks for the Seasoning recipe, and the link - you may remember I get terrible reaction to MSG, so this really helps a lot. I note the Taste N0 5 media page doesn't list the ingredients, so there's no way for me to tell if it has the dreaded 621 in it or not.

PS: Do you keep the seasoning pre-mixed in the fridge and use as required, or is it OK to keep unrefrigerated (my Mirin bottle says to store in the fridge)


Edited by Kuma (log)

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I use mine so fast that refrigeration is not needed unless the mix includes katsuo-bushi or similar.

If soy sauce is made with the normal amount of salt and fermented properly (some cheap brands are more or less "instant"), it should have a good amount of its own umami...and should also preserve dried kelp or shiitake in anything but extreme heat and humidity.

Refrigerating mirin...this sounds like a "don't blame us!" reaction from the manufacturer, to be honest. If you only use mirin occasionally, it might be best refrigerated, but in a normal Japanese kitchen, it is normally stored out of direct sunlight, but not refrigerated.

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My wife bought me a tube of Taste no 5 as a stocking filler for Xmas. As someone has said it is basically Italian umami-rich foods ground up with oil. It's added a bit of zing to something I made (can't remember what) but it's not very nice on its own. It got a reasonable amount of press coverage in the UK a few weeks ago, so at least more people are aware of umami. Blumenthal's "The Fat Duck cookbook" has a good section on umami; pp464 int al.

As for MSG intolerance, I completely agree with JMillar and deliberately use MSG to flavour savoury dishes because I can use far less to MSG than salt to get a good flavour.

I'd recommend everyone to read both of Steingarten's books because he challenges recieved wisdom, they're interesting, well-researched and often very funny. Anyone who has made sourdough bread will relate to his attempts to out-Poilâne Poilâne.

And people now are beginning to talk about 6th & 7th tastes...

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Well, jmillar & Chris-s. thank you both for your opinion.

Thank you to jmillar for saying that I am unlearned. I'm obviously an uneducated buffoon who is just making up a whole heap of malignant rubbish just for the sake of it. I'm really trying to bring down the whole ajinomoto empire single handedly.

Either that, or I'm speaking from personal experience, which in MY CASE is that I get real, genuine, and absolutely non-faked heart palpitations and dry cotton-wool mouth, which no amount of water will fix. These symptoms can continue for some hours after eating the offending substance (which is usually 621, 635, 639 or hydrolysed vegetable protein).

This is a real problem for me, as it prevents me from sleeping, decreases my enjoyment of eating out, and costs me time and money, because I have to make a lot of sauces, stocks and condiments myself from scratch to avoid unpleasant side-effects.

I also don't see why most companies go out of their way (not to mention added expense) to print "No Added MSG" on their packaging and menus - I suppose it's to placate the half dozen or so "conspiracy theorists" that exist in the world. Real learned people don't need such shallow assurances.

Oh, but that's right, just because jeffrey steingarten writes a book, all opponants of his view are wrong, aren't they?

Don't bother replying to me, I'm avoiding this thread from now on. Schoolyard name-calling should be left in the schoolyard.

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I DO hope Kuma doesn't feel this way, and hope he makes a post here again when he feels up to.

I checked the site linked to by Jmiller, and found no particularly insightful pieces of information there. There are people like me to whom MSG is just like any other seasoning, and there are those who claim that MSG presents problems to them.


Edited by Hiroyuki (log)

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I would like to know what makes Jeffrey Steingartens an expert on MSG (or the Chinese, for that matter). The reason why everyone in China doesn't have a headache from MSG could well be that they don't let on to the rest of the world. After all, didn't they used to kill traitors in China? Being Chinese, you'd think I'd know but my closest and last family link to China, my grandmother, no longer exists in this world so I can't check with her anymore if this is still the case today.

Anyway, I am not usually one to sit on fences, but with MSG, it is something I don't feel particularly strongly about - I can take it or leave it. The thing I feel most strongly about is that this relatively minor ingredient on the scale of things divides so many. I feel it is probably like everything else in life - if we choose to use it, then it has to be done in moderation - a bit like salt... and that "splash" of wine or brandy in our cooking. And if flavouring with anything in particular has a detrimental effect on our health, then isn't it best to avoid using it?

Over the years, I have come across a few people who get a bad reaction from anything with MSG and of course there are many people who aren't affected at all. I sometimes get a bad reaction from too much MSG on a regular basis where the roof of my mouth gets extremely itchy and my hair falls out, usually in clumps in the shower. Anyone is welcome to come unblock my drains when this happens to see if it is in fact a conspiracy. I still have hair left so I don't mind if there is sometimes a little MSG in my food - just not a lot and all of the time or I might eventually go bald. Again, everything in moderation - if I choose to break my own rules once in a while (like with wine), then I wear it (or my drains do). I like how a pinch of MSG can pack a punch but I think that is the key to using it - just a pinch. Preferably measured with Chinese fingers :)

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For the MSG conspiracy, everything I've seen regarding MSG tends me to believe that MSG is not the problem.

It's use however my signify another cause.

If you can eat parmisan and tomatoes with a soy sauce dressing then that tells me MSG is not the problem.

So is it some contaminant in artificial MSG (R not L form - unlikely but) or an associated additive always used with MSG.

What about hydrolyzing veg proteins. With what I know when you hydrolyze veg oils - you get trans fats proven to be very bad for you. Are there compounds created artificially that give umami but are just not healthy as the hydrogenation creates compounds that are the same composition but not structure (c.f trans fats) in nature.


Edited by ermintrude (log)

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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