Cooking Chinese food is fun but it involves a lot of sauces, pastes vinegar and oils. This may confuse you when cooking especially if you aren’t a native. However, amidst all the ingredients you use in the traditional meal, is vinegar.
The same way almost every meal requires that you have the soy sauce you will need a type of vinegar to complete the meal. Both soy sauce and vinegar are important in Chinese cuisine. Notice that, there are varying types of vinegar produced in China.
They differ in color, rthe egion of origin and what it’s composed of. For this reason, the article aims at highlighting the best Chinese vinegar.
Types of Chinese Vinegar
Generally, acidity in food is the reason for the sourness. This factor is generally needed to make any food delicious. Besides, it cuts through the fats as it balances the sugar in the meal.
So, if you are looking to balance your meal and add a delicate flavor, you need to start using the vinegar.
Talk of vinegar and mostly what comes to mind for most people is white vinegar. You will mostly find it in every household maybe because it’s generally cheaper. The vinegar has a unique sharp taste that may sometimes not suit the different food.
Nevertheless, you need it for a quick pickle. It’s the same vinegar that is often used in cleaning by most cleaning companies. In fact, they prefer vinegar to other harsh chemicals.
White wine vinegar
Compared to the white vinegar, the white wine vinegar has a mild and delicate flavor than white vinegar. You may find the vinegar being useful on those days when you have forgotten to deglaze a meal with white wine and are therefore having a flat meal.
Also, you need it for the marination as it adds a zing without altering the flavor.
Red wine vinegar
The red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar can work interchangeably. They both infuse a delicate flavor and crispness to your meal. You may use them for dressing and marination of your meals.
The formation of the balsamic vinegar is closely like that of wine formation. You have the grape must and juice fermenting in the wooden barrels. It has a rich flavor with a mix of molasses, prunes and figs.
It has a thick and glossy texture that best suits the finishing of your grilled meats and risotto.
This one is more like the vinegar above although it includes the sherries that are fermented in barrels. The process takes about six months. This is the vinegar with the complex flavor with a blend of nutty, rich and sweet flavor.
Apple cider vinegar
This is another useful vinegar that you don’t only use in cooking. It adds some desired acidity and fruity flavor to your food. It has a toasty flavor with a buttery texture.
This is made using the rice wine and is popular among Asian cuisine. It’s sweeter yet less acidic too. The rice vinegar counteracts on the fattiness and therefore is best used for the Asian stir-fries.
This is popular among the English people and it goes well with the fish and chips meal. The vinegar is made using the barley that you let to ferment and become complex. It has a rounded acidic flavor with the mellow taste.
The Chinese black vinegar
This is formed by blending the malt and rice and then left to age. With its mild acidity, it has a rich flavor with a blend of both the nutmeg and cinnamon. The vinegar is mostly used as a dipping sauce.
This one is made when you ferment sugarcane juice and impart its in-depth rich flavor to the food. It works best for your marinades and mostly suits the Filipino meals.
This one is made using champagne and works best when used as a form of meal dressing. Some people add it to the vinaigrette since it has the delicate flavor. I specifically love it over creamy soup.
The best rice vinegar brand
There are many brands that produce rice vinegar but one type that is loved across the board is:
Marukan Rice Vinegar
It stands out for being naturally brewed using the traditional techniques. The major factor of consideration in the brewing of this vinegar is in its taste and mildness. For over three centuries Marukan has continued to serve the world with its great tastes and aroma.
It’s a product that contains no sodium and fat or gluten and works best with the Asian and American meals.
What does rice vinegar taste like?
The rice vinegar is the sweetest and delicately flavored kind of vinegar. You may use it for pickling, marination, in cocktails, stir fires, making French fries, for salad dressings and as a dipping sauce.
Best rice vinegar
This happens to be the one of the best all-natural rice vinegar in the market today. The brand is known to give it time to age, be refined and ferment. Marukan is made using the best short grain rice that grows in California.
It works to increase the flavor and depth of any meal with a versatile and excellent flavor. It works both as an ingredient in your marinades and salad dressings or any other recipe requiring the use of vinegar.
It’s mostly recommended by most great Asian chefs.
Shanxi aged vinegar
From the name, this vinegar originated from Shanxi province. Its production dates back about 3000 years ago. This is one of the 4 famous kinds of Chinese vinegar that is mostly popular in China but not outside. It literary means old or mature vinegar in Chinese.
Though the ingredients used in its formation are complex it has sorghum, barley, bran, wheat and pea. Notice that, unlike other kinds of vinegar that are made using rice, this one contains no rice.
It uses the solid-state fermentation with Qu making almost 1/3 of the total vinegar being made. It ferments for a year to form a dark reddish brown color. It has a sour, slightly sweet and mellow flavor.
Best Chinese black vinegar
Black vinegar is a must have in the Chinese cooking. It takes time to age and produce the smoky, malt and wood flavor. Its dark and made using a blend of glutinous rice, water, salt and malt. It’s like the balsamic vinegar. The following are the types of black vinegar.
- Zhenjiang vinegar
On a global scale, Zhenjiang is the most popular vinegar amongst the 4 most popular ones from China. You will find it used in various recipes in the west. As the name suggests, the vinegar is originally from Zhenjiang city.
The vinegar is more than a thousand years old and it contains steamed rice, wheat, barley and pea. You also have Qu added to enhance the flavor. It usually has a sweet and sour taste. By adding water, the manufacturer influences its color and flavor.
- The red vinegar
This is originally from Fujian province that comes in red color which is different from the others that come in black. Its red color is from the red mold in the Qu. It uses a liquid state fermentation process like most other western vinegar.
The primary ingredient of formation is rice. It takes about 3 years to mature and uses older vinegar to help in its maturation.
- Sichuan vinegar
Sichuan is your agriculturally famed region of China. Its therefore obvious that they will produce amongst the most popular vinegar in the country. The region has a rich history and consequently a rich culinary tradition.
It uses the wheat bran for its formation but it also uses the Qu. Unlike the regular types of vinegar, this one contains different Chinese herbs to enrich its flavor. Since it utilizes the herbs, the end-product has some great health properties.
- Tianjin duliu vinegar
This is a kind of vinegar that is made using wheat and rice. It has a sweet flavor and is less acidic than most other vinegar. It works best as a dipping sauce and cold appetizers.
- Chinkiang vinegar
This is made from glutinous rice to produce the mild and sour flavored vinegar. It was invented in South China and is also mostly used there.
Where to buy black vinegar
From Amazon to Asian grocery stores within the country the black vinegar is readily available. You could also find them in Chinese markets. If you would like to find a variety then visit the large Chinese and Asian markets.
Rice Wine Vs Rice Vinegar
Rice wine vinegar which is also referred to as rice vinegar and rice wine are both used in cooking. Most people can’t tell the difference though and where to use either of them.
Although the rice vinegar and rice wine are made using the fermented rice the method of production slightly differs.
The Asian vinegar are made using lees and dregs that are used to make wines sometime. They have lower acidity and are mild than the western vinegar. The glutinous rice is used to make the rice wine.
There’s a difference in the uses of both the rice wine and rice vinegar. If you wish to add the sweetness and depth to your food you will use rice wine. On the other hand, you can use the rice vinegar to heighten your flavors.
Rice Vinegar and Rice Wine Vinegar
Although the rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are mostly used interchangeably, there is a slight difference in the two of them. The major difference between the two is that the rice vinegar is made from direct fermented rice while rice wine is made from the rice wine.
Some people say that it’s made from the residue you have when you have been making the rice wine. So, the lees and dres help you to make the rice wine. While they are both made using the fermented rice, they slightly differ in the flavor.
Their color on the other hand is dependent on the type of rice used for the production.
Brown Rice Vinegar Vs Rice Vinegar
Here the major difference is in the color of the vinegar. The rice vinegar is usually between clear and yellow color while the brown rice vinegar is between light to dark brown color.
The brown rice vinegar is richer in nutrients since it’s made using whole grain rice while the rice vinegar is mostly made using the short grain or long grain rice. You can use it in place of the rice wine vinegar.
How Long Does the Rice Wine vinegar Last?
Rice vinegar like other vinegar has no specific shelf life. You will find different manufactures putting certain best by dates to woo customers but that is just the duration when the condiments will retain the freshness.
If you will keep your rice vinegar in the pantry, it will take between 5 and more years. In the fridge however, the rice wine will stay for 10 years.
How to Tell If It Has Gone Bad
You will have the rice vinegar coming in different colors with slight difference in flavor. If you notice the color has changed, that is your first indicator that the vinegar isn’t of good quality. Its flavor will also have gone.
If your vinegar smells rotten or it has a different taste from the one you bought, it may be time to discard it.
Check the bottom and if you notice some slimy or cloudy sediments you should know that its spoilt.
This is according to most manufacturers the best black vinegar in the market. It’s made using the glutinous rice for the rich flavor. It’s also dark in color with a deep smoky flavor. This vinegar works best for the braises and as a dipping sauce.
If you want you can use it to substitute the regular balsamic vinegar. It’s not only tasty but unlike most other vinegar it contains less sodium.
Chinese dark vinegar
This is one of the famous dark vinegar. The ingredients that are used to make it includes sorghum, wheat barley and rice. For most of the Chinese kitchens this is used as the major ingredient.
To describe its taste, it has a sweet and tart taste that will give your food a sharp and full flavor. You can also use it for your sauces and stir fries. It’s originally from Chinkiang China.
The manufacturing process of this vinegar includes western seasonings and the Chinese flavors. This best suit the meals from China and the west. It’s made using the glutinous rice, sugar, salt and veggies extract.
Health Benefits of Using the Black Vinegar
- For cardiovascular benefits
We all need the black vinegar for its cardiovascular benefits. It has high level of amino acid which is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system. It helps to prevent you from the quick aging as it prevents the formation of substances that are related to aging.
Its your best bet to reduce the high blood pressure by enhancing the blood flow and improving the blood circulation.
It will help you to balance your body PH thus help in the detoxification of your body. Its ideal when you wish to deal with your body weight and hormonal imbalances.
- It burns excess fat
The reason you are overweight is because you have excess fat. Drinking the vinegar will help you to get rid of the fat easily. Loosing weight is easy when you are working on getting rid of unnecessary fat using the vinegar.
Chinkiang Vinegar Uses
This vinegar like many others has several uses
For your meats like pork chicken and beef, the black vinegar is effective to infuse some rich flavor. It gives it an even perfect color and authentic taste.
- Salad dressing
For chicken salad, the black vinegar will enrich the flavors and nutrients. When you have the mayo, soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic and the Chinkiang vinegar you will have the perfect salad.
- Dipping sauce
Of course, by now you know there are quite several options when it comes to dipping sauce. The black vinegar is the one you want if you like your dipping sauce having full flavor. It will give you the tart flavor.
In addition, you may use it for cooking your dumplings and other noodles.
Chinkiang Vinegar Substitutes
The best substitutes for the Chinkiang vinegar are:
- Balsamic vinegar
This is black in color like the regular Chinkiang vinegar. In fact, most people associate the black vinegar with the regular balsamic vinegar in taste and texture. There’s a slight difference though since the regular balsamic vinegar has a complex flavor.
When using the balsamic vinegar as a substitute just use the same amount you do with the black vinegar.
- Rice vinegar
Though its white to yellow in color, the texture and taste of the two is almost the same. You can use it in the same amount as you do with your black vinegar. Mark you, the vinegar is used in almost every meal so the effects will be similar but for the color.
- Worchester sauce
If you wish to use the Chinkiang vinegar as a dipping sauce, the best substitute is Worchester sauce. This is because it has bold and tart flavors. In fact, your dipping sauce is not acidic as compared to other vinegar.
When you can’t find the black vinegar, use sherry as a substitute. Though it’s not the same in flavor, it’s quite close.
Rice vinegar uses
- Use it to stir fry
Stir frying is known to utilize the different Asian sauces. In most cases, these sauces include the different soy sauces, oyster sauce among others. In a similar manner, the rice vinegar will work effectively to enhance your food flavor.
- Salad dressing
The salad dressing is necessary for all kinds of salad presented at the table. You can use the rice vinegar in the company of olive oil, sesame oil among others. Here you can put the vinegar and any oil of your choice at a ratio of 2:1.
This vinegar is best used for marination and it will work in place of other kinds of vinegar. It’s great when all you need is the Asian flavor in your meats.
In cocktails, the vinegar and cucumber play well together to create the subtle taste while infusing the flavors.
- In your sushi rice
When prepping your sushi rice, the rice vinegar is essential to use. It gives it a distinct flavor.
Rice vinegar like most other vinegar work as a non-abrasive. It’s a natural cleaning agent that will get rid of all the stains. It kills bacteria and removes stains. It will even whiten your white clothes. It’s the natural method to clean while avoiding the bleaching agents.
- A facial toner
This vinegar when mixed with tea tree oil will create a great facial toner which nourishes your skin while not stripping it off its natural necessities.
Rice Vinegar Substitute
- White vinegar
This one is made using grain alcohol which has a stronger and pungent flavor than your regular rice wine but it works as the best substitute. The best way to use it is to substitute it for rice vinegar.
- Apple cider vinegar
This is a fruity vinegar that is made when you ferment your apples. It’s also mild in flavor that would work best as the rice substitute when used in cooked dishes and marinades.
For dressings, substituting the vinegar for rice vinegar may mean it imparts the unwanted fruit flavor.
- Lemon juice
Lemon juice and rice vinegar may substitute each other. For marination, stir fries and dressings consider using the lemon juice. This is especially the best since it’s acidic.
- Champagne vinegar
You can substitute the rice vinegar for the champagne vinegar whenever you wish to use it in your salads. It’s mild in flavor and will not overcome your food flavors.
How to Store Your Rice and Black Vinegar
The storage of both the rice and black vinegar is the same as that of other kinds of vinegar. You should always keep it in a cool dry place. Ensure its away from light and the direct sunlight. If you have a pantry, that is the best storage place for your vinegar.
Always remember to seal your vinegar bottle tight after you have opened it and aren’t using it. Of course, most vinegar brands can be kept at room temperature even after opening. However, some brands require that you keep them in the fridge.