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Chinese Cooking Vinegar

Chinese rice vinegars (and most Asian rice vinegars) are milder and less acidic than regular vinegar. There are three basic types of Chinese rice vinegar - black, red and white -as well as sweetened black vinegars.

Black rice vinegar (jit cho) is similar to balsamic vinegar and is excellent for braised dishes and as a dipping sauce or table condiment. Chinkiang black vinegars are well aged and display a complex, smoky flavor. For use as dipping sauce you don't need much except some very finely shredded fresh ginger. It is an essential ingredient in sichuan cooking.

A splash of vinegar at the end is typical on most fish and fish flavored dishes. It is excellent as a final seasoning on noodles, stir frys, sha char sauce. The Chinese use dark vinegar as a splash at the end iof cooking like the way other cuisines finish their dishes with a splash of lemon

Red vinegar (hak mi cho) has both a sweet and tart taste and is good in soups, noodle and seafood dishes. Dumpling in soup, Shanghainese snack and dim sum, plain, steamed meat, seafood, these are normally eaten with red vinegar and a side dish of finely, shredded ginger.

White vinegar (bok cho, or shaojiu or lesser wine) is the closest in acidity and flavor to regular western vinegar and used in sweet and sour Chinese cooking and in pickling

Sweet rice vinegar or sweetened black vinegar has a distinctive flavor and cannot be used in place of black vinegar. Although it is also amber to dark brown in color and is brewed from rice, it is fragrant with cassia, star anise, and sugar and it lacks acidity. It has a caramel like taste with a touch of tartness. This vinegar is featured in the Cantonese dish of pig's feet with ginger It also is used to flavor stock, pork and braised dishes. Add a dash with a pinch of sugar to stir fried Chinese broccoli.

The goodness of vinegar:
1. Enhancing the flavour of food.
2. To remove the fishy smell prior to cooking but on the other hand, a drizzle of it onto sharks-fin soup helps to bring out the delicious taste.
3. To aid indigestion, as it is a remedy for good health.
4. To tenderize meat during cooking process.
5. Incorporating vinegar in dishes can boost appetite.

What is Vinegar?

Vinegar ("sour wine") is an acidic liquid obtained from the fermentation of alcohol and used either as a condiment or a preservative. Vinegar usually has an acid content of between 4 and 8 percent; in flavor it may be sharp, rich, or mellow. Vinegar is made by combining sugary materials (or materials produced by hydrolysis of starches) with vinegar or acetic acid bacteria and air. The sugars or starches are converted to alcohol by yeasts of the genus Saccharomyces, and the bacteria make enzymes that cause oxidation of the alcohol.

Chinese Vinegars
-Rice vinegars are made from fermented rice.
-Rice wine vinegars are generally made from the lees (dregs) of wine.
- Both and widely used in Asian cooking.
-Both, especially those from Japan, tend to be mild and sweet, and add a bit of acidity to dressings and in cooking.
-The Chinese red and black varieties are also used as condiments, but still are characterized as mild vinegars.

Makes 3 cups.

1 tsp. fresh minced garlic
1-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, minced
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp chili peppers
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
sugar to taste
1/2 cup black vinegar
3/8 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp water

Add all ingredients, and process until the mixture is smooth. It should be the consistency of heavy cream; to thicken, add peanut butter. To thin, add water. Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, in the refrigerator, for up to two weeks. The longer it sits, the spicier it will get.

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