Your most shameful culinary practices

I just received 3 1-lb bags of MSG from Amazon. I very rarely use real salt at all.

One thing I make on regular rotation is pasta with white clam sauce. I buy the whole clams, shell each one with a flathead screwdriver, and carefully, separately gather the clam meat and the juice (called the ‘liquor’) from each clam for the sauce. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it!

OK, I did that once, maybe twice. Most of the time I crack open a couple cans of chopped clams, use the juice for the sauce, mixing it with a little flour to thicken, chop up broccoli, red bell pepper and garlic, fry up in olive oil, add a splash of white wine and a few dashes of fish sauce for umami, and I have a weekday fancy pasta done in 1/2 hour or less.

Question— The ‘S’ in MSG is sodium, so is MSG any better for a person who needs to avoid salt? Isn’t salt vs. MSG just six of one, a half dozen of the other? Or is it that you need less MSG to flavor a meal than you need when you use just salt?

I buy vegemite in 2.5 kilogram tubs.

Well, MSG, by weight, contains less sodium than table salt (it has about 1/3 the sodium of table salt.) NaCl is 40% sodium by weight, and MSG is 12% by weight.

The study doesn’t use firm language, but says:

Overall, the study determined that replacing table salt with MSG in certain foods could reduce some people’s sodium intake by up to 7 to 8 percent

The study’s author does say:

“MSG can be used to reduce sodium in these foods without a taste trade-off. MSG contains about 12 percent sodium, which is two-thirds less than that contained in table salt, and data shows a 25 to 40 percent reduction in sodium is possible in specific product categories when MSG is substituted for some salt. As Americans begin to understand that MSG is completely safe, I think we’ll see a shift toward using the ingredient as a replacement for some salt to improve health outcomes.”

Yeah, that makes perfect sense when I take a second to think about it, since MSG is C₅H₈NO₄Na and salt is simplyt NaCl, Duh.

That sounds wonderful! I never opened a clam in my life, I use a can of whole (shucked) clams and a can of minced clams, too.

When I lived in Seattle I owned an oyster knife and a chainmail glove. I would make a bunch of experimental salsas and my friends and I would sit around a big tub of ice larded with oysters and beers and go to town

Not only that, but as time goes by, and my palate becomes accustomed to lest sodium in my diet, I need less saltiness to satisfy me. When I occasionally eat something containing a normal amount of salt, the saltiness is overwhelming. So I need even less MSG in my cooking.

Same with sugar.

I used to make “meatsloaf.” It was 1 lb ground turkey, 1lb ground beef, chopped onion, an egg or two, and some tomato sauce or ketchup. For the filler/stretcher, I’d add 1/2 - 3/4 cup of Minute Rice and an equal amount of water. Form a loaf in a loaf pan, top with ketchup, bake.

The rice sounds strange, but it really does a good job of stretching it out without adding any flavor of its own. It and the turkey were in there simply to save money feeding the family.

My last meat(s)loaf was ground beef, ground lamb and ground bison.

My father used to make meatloaf with rice all the time. I agree, it works fine. I use it more often for certain types of meatballs I make. My father would also sometimes use potatoes (leftover mashed) as the stretcher. That’s works good, too. (And, yes, any and all meats were used. The last one I had to take home had beef, veal, pork and I think leftover ham in it.)

The best meatloaf I’ve ever made included a can of tomato and rice soup. It was a freeform exercise; I’ve never been able to recreate it. I’m sure I topped it with ketchup. As long as we are on the subject of shameful meatloaves, a box of Stove Top stuffing is really good as the starchy element. I might make one this week. I usually use ketchup or Manwich sauce instead of barbecue sauce.

I use uncooked oats for that purpose. Just how my mother did it, so that’s what I’m used to. Does seem to work well.

Sounds delicious!

“Don’t let your meat(s) loaf!”
-Bruno Grozniak writing to Larry Kroger in his HS yearbook

My mom used to use oatmeal, too.

I’m not sure I’ve ever made meatloaf. Maybe i should give it a try.

For meatloaf I use whatever needs to be got rid of; it’s an opportunity to clean out my freezer of random meats (I have a meat grinder) and vegetables (food processor). Of course with most of the mix left to chance, I have to make sure everything will bind together, so at the last–after marjoram, salt, pepper, celery seed–i add a couple eggs, flour, and soup stock. This binds everything in a sliceable loaf which is how I prefer it: my primary use for meatloaf is sandwiches.

The Quaker Oats meatloaf recipe is a classic if you want a starting point with oats.

I must add :

Oatmeal works amazingly, some folks like to pre-soak it a little in various liquids; milk, juice, etc. I like barley myself.

Either or, use as “whole” as available, eschew instant/pre-processsed as much as possible.

Our good friend lissener has it right, meatloaf is designed for getting rid of things! Grind/blend/chop it into meal, season, bind, cook! Nothing is off limits. Broccoli? Sure! Minced Durian? Try it! (It’s great!) Whatever it may be!

The only real steadfast rule is: meatloaf must have worcestershire

  1. Not only is that dinner more often than it should be (without the salsa. but that’s a personal choice) Sometimes, shredding and melting cheese just takes too damn long or too much effort, so I’ll eat “raw” chips and cheese.

  2. While I have the correct spices to make a spice mix from scratch and the knowledge to do things “right,” one of my comfort foods is ground beef with a packet of McCormicks “Hot” taco powder seasoning with the onions sifted out.

  3. I do not like watery, soft, or runny eggs. So I overcook those.