Where Did MSG Come From In The First Place?
An acronym for monosodium glutamate, it is a flavor enhancer (e-number E621). Chemically, it is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, an amino acid which is naturally present in our body as well as in foods such as tomato and cheese.
It has its root in Japan. Professor Kikunae Ikeda of the University of Tokyo first isolated it from a seaweed called “kombu” in 1908.
Within the next one year, its commercial production and marketing began with the name “Aji-no-moto”. It spread across the US by the 1960’s and gained popularity with the brand name Accent.
The discovery began with boiled bean curd with dashi (broth) made from kombu, a kind of kelp. While dining on kombu dashi, Dr. Ikeda became convinced that there was another basic taste altogether different from sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, and he began researching the composition of kombu dashi.
Around the same time, Hiizu Miyake, Japan's first doctor of medicine, hypothesized that "good taste stimulates digestion."
Dr. Ikeda was encouraged by this idea, and ultimately discovered that glutamic acid, a kind of amino acid, was what gave kombu the distinctive taste he had been searching for.
He named the taste "umami," and proceeded to invent a method for producing seasoning with glutamate as a key component.