Secret Weapon Ingredient #3: Dried Dashi Stock

The Japanese were the first to describe and isolate “umami,” the fifth taste (“savory”). When professor Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University identified umami in 1908, he did so working from the ingredients in Japanese “dashi” soup stock, made from bonito fish and kombu seaweed. The key components, it turned out, were ribonucleotides and glutamates.

From there, the Japanese got industrious and distilled those ingredients into their purest form — monosodium glutamate. MSG. Which, if you’re like most people, you avoid like the plague. But which winds up in nearly anything processed you eat in less conspicuous forms (most often as “natural ingredients”). More