Add MSG to Every Salad

Anyone who is serious about salads knows not to rely on dressing alone to flavor their greens. No: the key to a good salad is a careful and thoughtful approach to each ingredient, which requires seasoning your damn leaves. In my kitchen, this means seasoning them with monosodium glutamate .

MSG adds umami – a rich, deep, pungent flavor that our flavors associate with soy sauce, cheese, nutritional yeast and, depending on which country you live in, bain-marie or vegemite. Glutamate is found in tomatoes, mushrooms and parmesan cheese (to name a few), but it can also be found in a small panda-shaped shaker; a few cocktails from this thing will make your mouth much more interested in that pile of plant parts that you have collected “for your health.”

Why do you think there is a tube of ranch dressing in every dull, plastic-lined vegetable tray? That’s because this pepper-spotted white condiment contains enough MSG to make even weak celery sticks tasty. By sprinkling monosodium glutamate directly on greens, you get the benefits of a ranch-free ranch. (Ranch is good, but not for every salad.) These zesty little crystals enhance the flavor of everything they sprinkle, which means you also need less dressing, less cheese, and less bacon. ( I would still add the same amount of bacon and cheese slices, but it’s good that they are not so hot.)

You don’t need a lot of MSG to give your salad a mental boost. A couple of cocktails are enough for a side dish; three or four is a great salad. Once all the vegetables are in the bowl, I water them, mix well, then add the non-vegetable ingredients, and finally water with the dressing. No salad will improve it. Someone might ask, “What about fruit salad?” but just like hard cheese with crystal splashes (like aged gouda or real Parmesan Reggiano), a little monosodium glutamate can do wonderful things with an apple.

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