Looking for an effective Chinese black vinegar substitute? Then look no further! This article will bring home to you the best alternatives.
The most commonly used types of rice vinegar used in Chinese cooking are white rice vinegar, red rice vinegar, or black rice vinegar (or Chinkiang Vinegar). In this article, we are concerned about what you can use in place of black vinegar only.
What Is Chinese Black Vinegar / Chinkiang Vinegar?
Usually, the Chinese black vinegar is made from fermented black sticky rice. This vinegar can also be made by using regular glutinous rice or rice in combination with wheat or sorghum.
Traditionally, it’s produced in the city of Zhenjiang in Jiangsu province of China. As its popularity increased, this vinegar came to be known as Zhenjiang or Chinkiang vinegar; a name derived from the place name Zhenjiang.
Note, Chinese black vinegar is also known as Chinkiang vinegar, Zhenjiang vinegar, black rice vinegar, or dark vinegar.
Chinkiang vinegar is typically black and has a malty and complex taste.
Black vinegar is less acidic than regular white vinegar; slightly sweet as well. It’s somewhat similar to balsamic vinegar.
The best quality Chinese black vinegar is aged for several years and displays a complex, smoky depth of flavor.
Chinese black vinegar is popularly used in cooking various types of cold appetizers. Also, it goes well with braised fish and meat, noodles, and as a dipping condiment for dumplings.
Dark vinegar works wonders for salad dressings, dipping sauces, and soup dumplings. An incredible addition of acidity to both vegetable and meat stir-fries. This is a traditional ingredient in sharks’ fin soup.
7 Simple Chinese Black Vinegar Substitutes
If you have run out of Chinkiang vinegar then the best thing is to get it or make it yourself. Importantly, it’s hard to find a vinegar substitute that matches the complex flavor of black vinegar.
The best replacement option is finding a vinegar that somewhat matches the color and flavor profile of black vinegar. Here are a few vinegars that you can use in place of Chinese black vinegar with little tweaks.
1. Balsamic Vinegar
In Mediterranean cooking, black vinegar has been used as a full-flavored but less expensive alternative to traditional balsamic vinegar.
Good quality balsamic vinegar is a suitable substitute for Chinese black vinegar. The color and sweetness of balsamic vinegar are quite akin to Chinkiang vinegar.
2. Balsamic Vinegar + Soy Sauce
Most types of balsamic vinegar are slightly sweeter than Chinkiang. The woody and caramelly flavor of balsamic vinegar is similar to black vinegar.
Some chefs suggest that Chinese black vinegar could be substituted for soy sauce, although I don’t think the flavor is quite the same.
If you are in a pinch, for tablespoon Chinkiang uses a blend of 1.5 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and 1.5 teaspoons of soy sauce.
3. Balsamic Vinegar + Worcestershire sauce
Worcester sauce is a condiment made through a long-established maturing process with malt and spirit vinegar, red onions, molasses, garlic, tamarind anchovies, and secret seasoning.
Worcester sauce has the same umami quality as soy sauce, but much less sodium and no gluten.
Combining balsamic vinegar and Worcester sauce offer both a mellow sweetness and complex savory notes similar to Chinese black vinegar.
Use this mixture in place of dark vinegar for salad dressings and dipping sauces.
4. Rice Wine Vinegar
Rice vinegar is another good replacement for black vinegar. If you notice, both the vinegars are usually made by fermenting rice or other grains mixed with it.
They both have the same level of acidity and sweetness but they are entirely different in color. In fact, Chinkiang vinegar is also known as black rice wine vinegar.
Rice vinegar is easily available and much cheaper than black vinegar.
Substitute rice vinegar for black vinegar in a 1:1 ratio.
5. Soy Sauce + Rice Vinegar
Soy sauce is the closest match for the slightly salty and caramelly flavor of Chinkiang.
A blend of rice vinegar and soy sauce is an excellent blend to use in place of black vinegar.
For 1 tablespoon Chinkiang uses a blend of 2 teaspoons vinegar and 1 teaspoon soy sauce.
6. Malt Vinegar
I have found many home chefs suggesting malt vinegar as an effective replacement for black vinegar.
Malt vinegar is a dark, flavorful vinegar that’s made by malting barley. Similarly, Chinese black vinegar is also made from malt grains.
Malt vinegar doesn’t match the complex flavor of black vinegar but both share similar notes.
While substituting add a bit of sugar to malt vinegar to match the sweetness level of black vinegar.
7. Lemon Juice + Soy Sauce
Most vinegars have a harsh flavor that some don’t like. For persons who can’t tolerate vinegar, lemon or lime juice is the most suitable replacement.
Citrus flavoring can be overwhelming for some recipes. In such a scenario, adding some salty soy sauce will help your recipe to achieve a similar taste to Chinkiang.
For 1 tablespoon of Chinkiang use a blend of 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon soy sauce.
The Bottom Line
Balsamic and rice vinegar are the closest match for Chinese black vinegar. For you, the best option is to combine the substitutes with either soy or Worcester sauce to achieve a similar flavor profile to Chinkiang. In addition, malt vinegar plus sherry can also replicate the sweetness and malty flavor of black vinegar.
Choose the substitutes for Chinese black vinegar according to the flavor profile of your recipe.
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