Dry Briners of steak/chops/etc. - ever sub in some MSG?

When I was looking for lower sodium recipes for my FIL, I ran into some suggestions to sub part of the salt in a given recipe with MSG, because based on respective molecular weights, on a par mass basis MSG has roughly 1/3 the sodium of regular salt.

The other day I broke down a whole top sirloin. I used the picanha to make 16 Philly cheese steaks for about 1/3 of the Visiting Horde (aside - WHOOSH they were damned good!) and broke the main part of the sirloin down into baseball steaks and top sirloin steaks.

I dry brined the baseball steaks yesterday and reverse-sear cooked them this morning for my adult kids heading back to their respective homes. I had decided to sub MSG for 20 percent of the salt in the dry brine. Although I sent 6 of the steaks home with the kids I kept one for myself.

I just reheated it and the texture is… not good. Hard to define how, but definitely not good. Chewier in a weird way, kind of mealy almost.

I’ve used MSG in cooking meats before, but only as an as-cooked additive, not having used it as dry brine.

Anyone ever dry brined using some portion of MSG as a replacement for salt? And if so, what was the result? I’m wondering if the MSG addition is the reason for the weird texture. I’ve got about 5 pounds of sirloin steaks I’m going to dry brine tomorrow and if the MSG in the dry brine is the culprit for the texture oddity then I’ll just reduce the salt mass for the dry brine and add MSG at the cooking stage instead.

If it matters, I did the dry brine at 1.25% of salt weight (combined MSG, salt) of the total meat weight.

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You’re certainly the industrious type. I have to hand it to you.:slightly_smiling_face:

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I look forward to knowledgeable replies. My mother was a good cook, and always had Accent (MSG) on hand. I’m not sure how often she used it, but I have had a small jar of aji-no-moto (MSG) to use when foods weren’t all they could be, and a doctor at work whose son runs a successful local restaurant finally admitted that it allows the flavors to marry after I called him on a salsa recipe I made that was almost like his but not exactly, so I added a little MSG and that fixed it. We argued for a while about that. But I digress. I want to know the answer, and really hope you don’t have any problems with all that beef.

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I have a container of aji-no-moto as well, but my uses for it thus far are as additions to fried rice/stir fries, breading/coatings for frying, and sometimes a pinch or two into a tomato sauce. If my MEAT doesn’t taste meat-y enough, I’m doing something wrong.

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It will work, but if you use MSG you are essentially wasting half of the MSG.

MSG is essentially a combination of sodium (monosodium) and glutamate. The sodium in the MSG will be absorbed by the meat and act in the same way as sodium cations (aka regular salt) would but the glutamate anions are too big (by comparison) to penetrate the tissue to be absorbed so you are essentially wasting half of the MSG molecule.

So, yes, you could, but if would be more efficient just to use salt if the purpose of your dry brine is to release moisture.

And last I check commercial MSG (or Accent) is more expensive than regular table salt (or Mortons)


I keep Accent on hand but have never used it as a brine. Check out the Guga Foods youtube channel. I’m pretty sure he has done it, probably in multiple ways.

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Guga has done darned near everything. I’ve stolen a lot of good ideas from him, but sometimes he goes off the deep end. I watched an episode (don’t recall if it was the regular Guga Foods channel or the Sous-vide Everything channel) where he put a brisket in the sous vide for a month. When they broke the seal he and Angel and whichever cousin was running the video had to run out of the room.

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Good point. Not only the size ratio (over 6:1) but now you’ve got me thinking along those lines, usually free amino acids need some kind of transport molecule to help get through a cell membrane. So it’s just sitting on top of the meat.

Still not sure why I got the funky texture, though. Possibly it was just the one I retained - I’ll have to ask the kids to report back how theirs were.

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Ok, I had to go there and see Guga open it up. I am glad I saw this on Youtube and not in person. He tried to stay in the room but…

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Okay, time for some fun stuff…

Guga did do a 30 day, MSG-packed dry brine of a standing rib roast:

“Uncle Roger” reviews Guga’s video. [note some “F-bombs”] Whole thing is fun but the first time stamp (below) was a moment that made me chuckle out loud.

Then he got to this part, why doesn’t Guga donate a knife to Kay’s Cooking (about 25 seconds):

That made me want to track down the video on Kay’s Cooking that he was talking about. Whoosh what a mess! (“I didn’t know you could make garlic look like it live through Chernobyl.”)


Thanks for finding it. I saw this a couple years back and looks like I’d added some detail (them leaving the room) that didn’t actually happen - like you said, though, glad I wasn’t there in person!

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Thank you for this answer. I don’t brine anything except frozen shrimp sometimes, but I wanted to know the answer to that question.

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This exactly describes the texture of the wonderful-looking steaks my grandfather used to ruin by using Accent to season it ahead of time. He refused to cook them without it. What a shame!

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Yikes! That smelly stuff with long sous vide is … quite remarkable, but I didn’t think it was unsafe. I thought it was related to surface bacteria. I forget the specifics but not the aroma.

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Thanks - good to know. The weird thing is Guga dry brining in MSG and reporting it was great.

Daughter and SIL say theirs were great, other daughter said one was great and one was off-texture.

It’s possible that because the MSG was near the container’s end (and notably finer than the stuff at the top of the container) that it didn’t stay mixed well with the kosher salt and fell toward the bottom of the bowl as I pinched/pinched/pinched, meaning some steaks were relatively heavy salt/low MSG and the others - those ending up with the funky texture - had the opposite.

I think I’m going to give this one more test with 2 steaks side/side, one all salt, the other 80/20 MSG and see what happens. But my expectation is this will tell me to stop trying to use it in dry brine.

Here’s another interesting one from Guga. Just before cooking all 3 steaks get S&P and garlic powder, one gets an additional dose of MSG, and one gets an application of a natural MSG-laden powder that he made by grinding up kombu and dried tomatoes, anchovies, parm, garlic, etc.

He and his tasters thought the MSG was better than plain S&P, and thought his natural MSG was the very best. But I wonder how much of the differences might be owing to the 2 test steaks having overall more salt (same amount of kosher as control, plus MSG atop), and in the case of steak 3, a lot of natural flavors besides just the naturally occurring MSG.

I also wonder how he got the kombu ground. What I have on hand for dashi-making is incredibly tough and I think it’d wreck my spice grinder. Maybe he broke it down into smaller pieces first. But I might try this rub sometime.

Returning to this about a month later, back then I had cut some top sirloin steaks fairly thick (about 4 cm) and dry brined with the combo kosher salt and MSG (new container), and after the liquid resorbed I froze them. I cooked 2 yesterday for a daughter to take back to college and cooked 2 tonight for dinner.

The 2 that I cooked tonight and one of my daughter’s had normal texture (I filched a piece of one of hers to check - not the mealy texture mentioned above). I’ve asked her to let me know about the other.

But it seems the jury is still out on pre-seasoning with MSG. OTOH, it’s not worth making a mistake again, so I think I’ll just give it up.