Focus Ingredient: What is Chinese Black Vinegar?
Chinese black vinegar is an aged vinegar which is typically made from rice, but can also be made from wheat, millet, sorghum, or a combination of any of the four. It has a deep black color, similar to that of balsamic vinegar.
Compared to balsamic vinegar, Chinese black vinegar is less sweet, less acidic, and has a strong fragrant flavor that is almost spicy in nature (as in sweet spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.); though that spiciness can vary between manufactures and their individual batches due to different makers adding different ingredients which may or may not contain sugar, spices, and colorings.
Uses for Chinese Black Vinegar
I love black vinegar and use it all the time in my kitchen, especially when cooking Chinese dishes.
- It’s great used as a dipping sauce all on its own, or when mixed with soy sauce.
- It adds the final touch on many dishes when sprinkled over the top or on some accompanying rice.
- It adds a beautiful depth when added to marinades and sauces for stir frying.
- It’s so good you could bath in it (just kidding).
An example of how to use it is found in Orange Spinach with Garlic Scapes and Chinese Sausage.
Substitution for Chinese Black Vinegar
Black vinegar can be sourced at any local Asian market, and is very inexpensive. However, if you can’t seem to find it, or have simply ran out and don’t want to make a rush trip to the store, here is a simple substitution recipe to use. It does not provide the exact same flavors, but is close enough to get the job done:
- 1 part balsamic vinegar
- 1 part rice wine vinegar
- 3 parts water