Does soaking salted anchovies in water to reduce the saltiness, also reduce their umami component?

1 Answer 1


Yes, it does, as both salt and glutamate (which provides the umami flavor) are water-soluble.

However, salt has a solubility in water of 359 g/L whereas monosodium glutamate's is 740 g/L so the resulting anchovies will have drained about twice as much taste than salt for any given amount of soaking.

  • Kinda. What the solubility tells you is that if both are saturated, you'll remove twice as much MSG by weight as salt, assuming the glutamate in anchovies is just as available as the salt. That doesn't mean there's twice as much left in the anchovies. Realistically, if you use a good amount of water, and you let it soak a good while, you won't saturate it with either, so you'll end up with the same glutamate to salt ratio in the water and the fish (all in equilibrium) and thus it'll have reduced both by the same ratio.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 24, 2017 at 17:02
  • @Jefromi I think we're saying the same thing... umami is more soluble so will drain twice as fast too. (in the hypothetical case the anchovies are minced up to molecular level)
    – Fabby
    Feb 24, 2017 at 17:05
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    Solubility (equilibrium max concentration) and dissolution (rate of dissolving) are different things, not sure they're proportional.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 24, 2017 at 17:08
  • 2
    Umami is the taste. However, that taste comes from the amino acid, glutimate, and/or inosinate and guanylate, which are nucleotides. Frequently the minerals, sodium and/or potassium are also present. All are water soluble...think about kombu dashi, for example. My point: you wouldn't say "sweet is water soluble".
    – moscafj
    Feb 24, 2017 at 18:12
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    @Fabby This is exactly why commenting about downvotes is not a great idea. You don't know who downvoted or why. Apparently it wasn't moscafj, and you don't know whether they downvoted because of those things, because of what I pointed out, or something else altogether. If the downvote and the criticism really bothers you, the best thing to do is try to edit your answer to address it. Two people left you comments pointing toward things that could be improved.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 24, 2017 at 21:38

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