Many recipes call for "Accent Seasoning." Some people have it on their table, using it like salt. It is carried at many stores in the United States. Those who live outside the U.S., though, might have trouble finding it. Accent Seasoning is really just a brand name, so substitution should be readily available.
Accent seasoning is glutamate, also called "monosodium glutamate." Using glutamate in foods dates back to ancient Japan. Seaweed was used by cooks in Japan to give flavor to some types of savory foods. While no one knew what made it work, the seaweed brought a depth to the flavor. In 1908 a scientist (Professor Kikunae Ikeda of the University of Tokyo) decided to analyze the seaweed and discovered that glutamate was responsible for this flavor enhancement.
Professor Ikeda first isolated glutamate in the form of glutamic acid crystals. The substance is an amino acid and one of the key building blocks in protein. In order to be used as a seasoning, Professor Ikeda sought to create a water soluble substance that would resist humidity. His answer was to create a substance called "monosodium glutamate." It has a similar structure to crystallized sugar and salt, but the flavor essence of the glutamic acid.
Monosodium glutamate (and Accent Seasoning, since it is Monosodium glutamate) have been used in Asian cooking for a very long time (even before it was isolated into a seasoning). According to B & G Foods, it has also been "a 'secret ingredient' of many chefs for years." It can be used on nearly any type of meat, in soups and broths, on potatoes or rice and in sauces. It enriches the flavor palate.
As any chemistry student can probably discern, monosodium glutamate (the only ingredient in Accent Seasoning) is a salt. That means it contains sodium. Many people are on low sodium diets. Accent Seasoning might be a good alternative to salt for those individuals. The flavor is not the same as salt, but it can enrich foods in a similar way. It also contains 60 percent less sodium than salt.
Many restaurants and products contain a statement like "contains no MSG." The statement has been added to products because some people have reported problems ranging from headaches to nausea, asthma attacks and heart palpitations. The Mayo Clinic, however, reports that no study has ever found a link between MSG (monosodium glutamate) and any of those symptoms. So, the current evidence doesn't support any long term or consistent health problems caused by Accent Seasoning.
- seasonings image by Karin Lau from Fotolia.com