What Is Cooking Rice Wine

When it comes to cooking with wine, there are so many options to choose from. One type of wine that is often used in Asian cuisine is cooking rice wine. As someone who loves experimenting …

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When it comes to cooking with wine, there are so many options to choose from. One type of wine that is often used in Asian cuisine is cooking rice wine. As someone who loves experimenting with flavors in the kitchen, I have found cooking rice wine to be a versatile and essential ingredient in many of my dishes.

Cooking rice wine, also known as rice cooking wine or mijiu, is made from fermented glutinous rice. It has a mild and slightly sweet flavor that adds depth and complexity to a wide range of dishes. Unlike drinking rice wine, cooking rice wine has a lower alcohol content, usually around 14-20%, which makes it more suitable for cooking.

One of the key roles of cooking rice wine is to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients in a dish. Its subtle sweetness helps to balance out the saltiness and spiciness of certain sauces and seasonings. It also acts as a natural tenderizer, which is especially useful when cooking meats or stir-frying vegetables.

One classic dish that I love to make using cooking rice wine is drunken chicken. This dish involves marinating chicken in a mixture of cooking rice wine, soy sauce, ginger, and other aromatics. The rice wine not only adds flavor to the chicken but also helps to tenderize the meat, resulting in a deliciously moist and flavorful dish.

Another dish where cooking rice wine shines is stir-fried vegetables. I often incorporate it into my stir-fry sauce, along with soy sauce and a touch of sugar. The rice wine adds a subtle sweetness and complexity to the sauce, elevating the overall flavor of the dish.

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When using cooking rice wine in your recipes, it’s important to choose a high-quality brand. Look for one that is specifically labeled as “cooking rice wine” or “rice cooking wine” in the Asian section of your grocery store. Avoid using regular drinking rice wine, as it may have a higher alcohol content and a different flavor profile.

It’s also worth noting that cooking rice wine is not the same as rice vinegar. While both are made from rice, rice vinegar is fermented and has a more acidic taste, whereas cooking rice wine is not fermented and has a sweeter flavor.

In conclusion, cooking rice wine is a wonderful ingredient to have in your pantry if you enjoy experimenting with Asian flavors. Its subtle sweetness and tenderizing properties make it a versatile addition to a wide range of dishes. Whether you’re making drunken chicken or stir-fried vegetables, cooking rice wine can elevate your cooking and add a unique touch to your recipes. So, go ahead and give it a try – your taste buds will thank you!

John has been a hobbyist winemaker for several years, with a few friends who are winery owners. He writes mostly about winemaking topics for newer home vintners.
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