Mushrooms and Monosodium glutamate


You know who gets a bum rap? Rumpelstiltskin – the Brothers Grimm goblin, shunned by the townsfolk and forced into isolation simply on account of his disfigurement.

Loathed by all, the only thing Rumpelstiltskin had ever wanted was the unconditional love of a child of his own. Unfortunately, as time went by, Rumpelstiltskin began to accept of his situation, realising that he would soon die as he lived – hated, miserable and alone. Each night, this knowledge was the only company he had as he shivered under his threadbare blankets in his ramshackle goblin-hovel.

It was on one such night that Rumpelstiltskin received word of a miller’s daughter imprisoned by the local despot- who was demanding a mountain of gold by the following day, or put her to the sword. Horrified by the plight of this poor maiden, Rumpelstiltskin resolved to save her from her fate – and yet, at the same time, he sensed an opportunity; possessing, as he did, the power to conjure treasures at will, he could deliver this mountain of gold, saving her life – and in return might request her first born child.

Later that night, as he bashfully proposed this honest transaction to the captive damsel, Rumpelstiltskin braced himself for the worst – nothing in his life had ever gone in his favour, so why would this be any different? Poor Rumpelstiltskin; he hated trite comparisons to the legendary King Midas – Rumpelstiltskin knew they couldn’t be any less alike – after all, everything he touched seemed to turn to shit. Rumpelstiltskin was startled, then, when the maiden accepted his bargain, and toiled through the night to uphold his end of the deal.

Needless to say, when the time comes for the miller’s daughter – now a Queen – to pay up, she reneges on the offer. ‘Fuck that dirty goblin,’ she thought, as had so many others throughout Rumpelstiltskin’s miserable life. ‘He can go fuck himself.’

With the Queen clearly unwilling to honour the contract she’d made, good Rumpestiltskin then gives her a second chance to avoid upholding her end of the deal – three guesses at his name, with 24 hours to deliberate.

So what does she do? She cheats. Sneaks into his camp in the dead of night and spies on him singing his merry goblin song. Poor Rumpelstiltskin, who could summon gold with the click of his fingers, had in that moment, and for the first time in his life, felt rich – for he had the seed of hope in his heart.

The next day however, having learned of his name, but not yet satisfied in screwing this pitiable, wretched goblin, the Queen agrees to the guessing game and proceeds to offer up two false answers – for the sole purpose of raising his hopes – before cruelly dashing them on her third guess with the name, Rumpelstiltskin.

So what happens next? Rumpelstiltskin dies, while the Queen lives the rest of her life in gilded extravagance, growing fat on the fruits of his labour.

…sorry, I got a bit distracted there – though that was quite fun. Perhaps I’ll expand the scope of this blog’s content – recipes and hot takes on children’s stories – of which I have several. Don’t even get me started on little Jack Horner.


Don’t stick that thumb at me, you little prick

So, to recap, Rumplestiltskin gets a raw deal. You know what else does? The humble cooking additive Monosodium Glutamate. Good old M.S.G; Flavour Enhancer 621; White gold; Texas tea. To debunk some of the misconceptions around this ingredient – no, MSG is not dangerous, and frankly I’m convinced that this myth is entirely racist in its origin. Glutamic acid is, in fact, a naturally occurring amino acid and is found is significant levels in foods such as meat, fish and dairy. Some delicious foods, such as parmesan, cured meat and mushrooms, are particularly high in glutamate; whenever a food is described as being umami-rich, they’re basically describing the effect of glutamic acid.

This dish is my attempt to cram as much glutamate into a dish as possible – with mushrooms, jamon, parmesan and veal stock all featuring prominently.

Veal and Mushroom Jus:

  • ½ carrot, chopped roughly
  • 1 brown onion, quartered
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped roughly
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 500g veal bones
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A cup of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 100g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

Brown the bones in a hot oven, then set aside. Saute the carrot, onion, garlic, button mushrooms and celery in a heavy-bottomed saucepan for a few minutes until everything has taken on a nice, golden colour, then add the bones and the bay leaves and cover with the stock. Simmer for a few hours, skimming from time to time as required. Strain and set aside. At this point, you can clarify it using whatever method you like – or, as I elected, not.


I used a mix of black fungus, shiitake and oyster mushrooms. Sautee on medium heat with some butter until they’ve just taken on a bit of colour. Remove from the heat and set aside.


Throw into a hot pan with some oil and cook until nice and crispy. Set aside and drain, then crumble.

Parmesan foam

  • 300mls whole milk
  • 200g parmesan, grated
  • 100mls heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Combine the milk and parmesan in a saucepan – bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for half an hour or so. Add the cream and the salt and pepper. Strain, and pour into a cream whipper. Screw in a cream charger, shake and leave in the fridge for a few hours.


  • 200g 00 flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of salt

Pour the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Make a well in the centre, then crack the eggs into said well. Give the mix a stir fork to bring it slightly together, then tip out onto a brench, lightly dusted with more of the 00 flour, and knead for a few minutes. The dough should be smooth and very slightly damp, but not sticky. Cover with cling wrap and leave in the fridge for half an hour or so to rest. When you’re ready to roll it out, cut into a couple of portions and put each portion through a pasta machine about 15 times on the widest setting, turning the dough each time. The dough should look nice and smooth and have a satiny-silky kind of texture. Reduce the width on the pasta machine by one notch and put the dough through, then again reducing the width by one notch each time. My pasta machine goes up to ‘9’, but I like to keep the pasta to around a 6 or 7. When you have nice big sheets of pasta you can then feed it through the linguine attachment. Add to a bowl and dust with a handful of flour so that the strands don’t stick to one another.

To cook the pasta, bring a couple of litres of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta, stir about in the water, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Strain, then toss through the saucepan of jus.

To put the dish together, add the mushrooms to the bottom of a bowl, spoon over some of the jus, then add the pasta. Give the cream charger another shake, then squeeze out some of the parmesan foam onto the side of the bowl. Sprinkle with jamon and you’re done!





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