About MSG… I really like it. When I was little, I used to climb up the shelve to grab the little bottle and pour a little bit on my palm, then use my finger tip to get a bit, and put it into my mouth — my parents never knew. :)))
MSG in Chinese Cuisine
It has been used in Chinese dishes for many years, in soup, stir fry, or cool dishes. It is supposed to increase the flavor of the food, and give it a very fresh touch. Although I really like the taste of MSG in food, I stopped using it once I learnt about its side effects. However, it is still widely used in most restaurants and takeaways in Asia, unless you ask the chef not to put it when you make the order.
In China, the first thing that came out as a substitute for MSG was ‘Chicken essence’, then ‘mushroom extract’ or ‘mushroom essence’ (I don’t know which is the best translation) and ‘Vegetable extract’ or ‘vegetable essence’. They claim to be better and healthier than MSG, and can be used to replace MSG. Nowadays, in Chinese supermarkets over here, you can find ‘Chicken essence’, but not ‘Mushroom essence or Vegetable essence’, which I really prefer. So every time I go back to China, I would buy some to bring back, my mum laughed– the cost is too pricy. :)
Anyway, if you like to use MSG or the replacement, it is probably good idea to put it at the very end of the stir frying or towards to the end, so the freshness can be kept on the top, make different in the taste.