What Is Shaoxing Wine Used For
Every Chinese restaurant uses Shaoxing Wine in almost every savoury dish. Youd be hard pressed to find a single dish on a Chinese restaurant menu that does not use Chinese cooking wine!
It is used in every stir fry sauce, from classic Chop Suey / Chicken Stir Fries to Cashew Chicken, Mongolian Beef to Beef and Broccoli, and Kung Pao Chicken.
Its also used in noodle recipes such as Chow Mein, and soup broths, like Wonton Soup andChinese Corn Soup. And the fillings for dumplings, like Wontons and Potstickers.
Pictured: Kung Pao Chicken and Potstickers
Substitutions For Shaoxing Wine
Is there a substitute for the Shaoxing wine? is one of the most common questions we get on the blog.
If you want to cook Chinese dishes often at home, we highly suggest you get to your nearest Chinese market to buy a bottle , because youll use it in the vast majority of the dishes you cook, and its flavor makes all the difference.
However, if you truly cant locate it or want a quick substitution for a one-time cooking experiment, the most common substitute we recommend is dry cooking sherry, which is readily available in any supermarket.
If you have it on hand, you could also substitute any other Chinese rice wine. In small amounts, you can also substitute Japanese/Korean wines such as soju or sake. Were hesitant to suggest substituting a more commonly found Japanese rice wine seasoning called mirin, but it can be used in a pinch. Just know that the dish will not taste authentically Chinese, and you should cut out any sugar called for in the recipe, as mirin is much sweeter than Shaoxing wine.
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Where Can You Buy It
You can find Shaoxing wine at your local Chinese grocery store, where theyll normally have several brands in both big and small bottles to choose from. Its wise to get a smaller bottle if you dont plan on using it every day, as it can keep for a long time. Shaoxing wine can keep up to about six months unrefrigerated, but always make sure to look at the expiration date if youre unsure. If youre not planning on refrigerating Shaoxing wine, keeping it sealed tightly in a cool and dark place works just fine.
If youd like to extend the longevity of the rice wine for a bit longer, feel free to refrigerate it. This way if you dont use it every day, it wont lose its fragrant smell as quickly. However, unless its drinking Shaoxing wine, keeping it in the pantry usually suffices. While rice wine vinegar does not spoil, it is good to note that the taste and quality will diminish over time.
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How Is It Used
Just like using wine in Western dishes, Shaoxing wine adds depth and flavor complexity. We use it in marinades for meats, as a flavor agent in wonton or dumpling fillings, to deglaze our wok and add flavor to stir-fries, and to add flavor to sauces and braises. Wed go so far as to say that the vast majority of our savory recipes contain Shaoxing wine.Shaoxing Wine is particularly essential for hong shao or red-cooked dishes like Chinese Braised Fish and Shanghai Style Braised pork belly . It appears in larger quantities in braised dishes, , while a marinade or stir-fry usually contains only a tablespoon or two.
It is also the star of a traditional cold appetizer aptly named, Drunken Chicken, in which the chicken is cooked and then soaked in a brine of Shaoxing wine and other seasonings. This drunken brining method can also applied to seafood, like shrimp and crab.
Again, there are types of high quality Shaoxing wine made for drinking , but in the U.S., salt is added to the wine to avoid alcohol taxes and to permit it to be sold in stores where regular wine/liquor cannot be sold. The flavor of the wine sold in most grocery stores for cooking is therefore briny and not meant for drinking!
Why Use Cooking Wine
Why do you cook with wine? What does it do to the food? What does it add to the taste?
Evaporation of Unpleasant Flavors
One main purpose of using Chinese cooking wine is to mask the strong fishy or gamey smell and taste of meat and seafood through alcohol evaporation during cooking. Alcohol has a much lower boiling point temperature than water . Once the temperature is above 78.5° C, then the alcohol evaporates quickly, which reduces the vapor partial pressures of fishy/gamey components in fish and meat and thus makes these volatile components easily evaporate from food. It is particularly true in Sichuan cooking that many quick stir-frying usually spray dry rice cooking wine at the highest heat point during cooking progress, such as stir-frying gizzard with green Thai peppers.
As the name says, Chinese cooking wine is Chinese rice wine for cooking. In one side, Chinese rice wine is a product of fermented regular and glutinous rice that contains high levels of protein and amino acids. The unique fermentation process let these nutrients add additional savory flavors to the food. In the other side, Shaoxing cooking wine has already blended expected cooking spices which can nicely impart the food flavors during cook
Bring out Flavors
Animal fats are partially hydrolyzed into glycerin and fatty acid after heating. The ethanol of alcohol then esterifies with fatty acid and form aromatic esters.
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Shaoxing Rice Wine Tasting
Out of curiosity, I recently bought 3 bottles of Shaoxing to try. Two of them come from the same golden Pagoda Brand. The other is bottled in a squarish bottle and produced by a different maker. The colors are more or less the same.
The bottle on the left is the most common one sold, priced about $4 where I shop. It was my standard for years. The flavor is like a slightly rough fino sherry. The one in the middle came tissue wrapped in a box. I paid more than $5 but its flavor was more complex and sophisticated than the red label kin. The one on the right was about $9 and tasted similar to the middle one. Both the middle and right bottles tasted more refined than the ordinary red label Pagoda. There are other grades of Pagoda Brand of Shaoxing between the red and the boxed gold!
Does the price and quality matter? Like with any liquor that you cook with, it should taste good to you. My food was fine with the basic red label Shaoxing. With the higher priced ones, my food had a little more elegance.
What did I pay for? Aging. I chose the boxed bottle plus the one on the right because they were aged for 8 years. That was indicated on their labels:
Those characters indicate that the Shaoxing rice wines had been aged for eight years . According to a Wikipedia entry on Chinese huangjiu , some Shaoxing may be aged for 50 years!
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Its The Secret Ingredient
If youve ever made a Chinese recipe and wondered why it didnt taste quite as good as what you get from your favourite Chinese restaurant, then Chinese Cooking Wine is probably the missing ingredient.
You can get every other ingredient right in a stir fry sauce, but if you dont use Chinese cooking wine, it will be missing that extra something-something that makes it truly taste restaurant quality.
My general advice is that if you come across a stir fry recipe in your internet travels that does not call for Chinese cooking wine, I would proceed with caution.
Or if it really looks tasty and you really want to try it anyway, add a splash of Chinese cooking wine and know youve just improved the recipe.
Pictured: Chow Mein
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Chinese Cooking Wine Brings Tangy Depth To Welleverything
I love cooking with alcohol. The magnificent aromas, the satisfying glug of rich liquid pouring from the bottle, and, of course, the drinking. Sure, French cooking gets well-deserved attention for its liberal use of wine, and Japanese cooking wouldnt be nearly as delicious without mirin and sake, but there are few places where alcohol is used as effectively, or as liberally, as in Chinese cuisines. If your pantry is short a bottle of Chinese wine, for cooking and for drinking, its time to fix that. And were here to help.
What Is Chinese Cooking Wine?
Chinese wines are made by fermenting grain with a starter of molds and yeasts. There is a huge range of styles, from light, clear mijiu to dark, sweet xiang xue jiu . But when someone refers to liaojiu , they are usually talking about a variety of amber huangjiu . The best huangjiu comes from the city of Shaoxing. The medium-dry huadiao wine produced in Shaoxing has a rich, slightly nutty taste perfect for braises, stir-fries, or for sipping in the kitchen. Careful, thoughmost exported wine labeled as Shaoxing is spiced and salted to get around taxes and import fees for drinkable wines. These salted cooking wines are generally inferior to genuine, unsalted Shaoxing wines, but theyll do for most recipes. If you can find a bottle labeled huadiao, get it. If its unsalted, even better.
Why Use Chinese Cooking Wine?
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Can You Smell What The Wine Is Cooking
Now that you know all about cooking wine, one question remains. Should you use cooking wine? You can up some of the best books to learn about wine and see why many chefs and cooks say no. Cooking wine lacks any depth of flavor and adds more sodium than you may want in your dish. Less salty, more flavorful wine can impart a lighter flavor to the final product.
We recommend just testing your favorite wines to see how your food turns out. Dont get upset if the flavor is off-balance because wine is acidic. You can also read about food and wine pairing to discover what tastes the best together.
Shaoxing Wine : Substitutes Ingredients Equivalents
- If you have to go out and buy something we don’t recommend this product. Where To Buy Shaoxing Wine. Depending on where you live it’s most likely you won’t find this in your neighborhood grocery store. Do look for it in any Asian grocer. You can also purchase this rice wine at Amazon: Shaoxing Wine.Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins
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Toss It Into A Vegan Risotto
Any vegan risotto recipe will benefit from a splash of mirin. Roasted vegetables, fresh herbs, and rich, savory flavors will complement it beautifully. Isnt there any mirin in the cabinet? Thats fine sake or some other sweeter white wine will suffice.
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Can I Use Rice Wine Instead Of Sherry
Available at liquor stores, pale dry sherry is the most commonly recommended substitute for rice wine. It comes closest in flavor to Shaoxing rice wine (also spelled. Since rice wine can be hard to find, many recipes will only have dry sherry in the ingredient list, not even listing rice wine as an option.
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Should I Buy Salted Or Unsalted
Unsalted is the one you want! Check the label, it shouldnt have any salt in it. They sell salted Shaoxing as way to label it as cooking wine so it doesnt have to be exclusively sold in liquor stores. Salted Shaoxing is super salty and wont add that delicate flavor youre looking for. If its what you can find, go for it, but you should reduce the salt in the rest of your recipe.
Not this one:
Where To Buy Shaoxing Wine
While you may think that since you live in China, finding Shaoxing wine is easy, its never easy. In fact, the probability of finding it in your nearby grocery store is next to impossible.
You can find your best wine in big Asian markets if you are in the US or the best place to find it is on Amazon.
You can also get them in the various cooking stores. I often buy my Shaoxing wine from Rakuten global market and Ive never been disappointed. Whenever you visit the Chinese markets you will find the Shaoxing wines at the frozen food section.
One thing you should be careful about though is buying the wine kind that has increased amount of salt in it because that tastes awful.
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Do You Have To Be 21 To Buy Cooking Wine
No, you do not need to be 21 or have an ID to buy cooking wine. Cooking wine is available in most grocery stores and is considered an ingredient rather than an alcoholic beverage. IDs arent usually required because cooking wine is considered undrinkable. This is due to the ingredients that make it taste overwhelmingly salty and unpleasant.. Cooking wine is not intended to be drunk and is sold as such.
How Do I Choose Which Shaoxing Rice Wine To Buy
The best Shaoxing wine should contain only water, rice and wheat. In the USA salt is added, primarily to allow it to be sold in stores where alcohol is not permitted. If made outside China, bottles may also be labelled Shaohsing Wine, depending on its origins.
This Taiwanese brand is suitable for both cooking and drinking and will bring a rich, hearty, homecooked flavour to any savoury dish.
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White Grape Juice + Rice Vinegar
While this isnt an ideal option, when you are in a pinch, white grape juice, and rice vinegar together can achieve a similar flavor to Shaoxing wine.
Make sure you buy white grape juice, otherwise, the flavor will be completely different, and so the color. Some people regularly use white grape juice to replace cooking wine, so it can work, particularly when mixed with the acidity of rice vinegar.
To replace Shaoxing, add ½ cup white grape juice and one tablespoon rice vinegar for every one cup of Shaoxing wine. You can add more as you go, but make sure you taste, and always adjust for sugar.
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Can Children Eat Foods Made With Shaoxing Wine
Most recipes prepared with Shaoxing wine usually have the alcohol boiled off before the dish is ready to eat, so theyre safe for anyone. However, if your diet or lifestyle restricts alcohol consumption, it may be best to avoid foods made with Shaoxing wine. Still, its unlikely that your kid would get drunk from eating such food, but if youre uncomfortable about it, its best to either avoid it altogether or use a non-alcoholic substitute like mushroom broth.
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How Much Does Instacart Delivery Or Pickup Cost
- Delivery fees start at $3.99 for same-day orders over $35. Fees vary for one-hour deliveries, club store deliveries, and deliveries under $35.
- Service fees vary and are subject to change based on factors like location and the number and types of items in your cart. Orders containing alcohol have a separate service fee.
- Tipping is optional but encouraged for delivery orders. It’s a great way to show your shopper appreciation and recognition for excellent service. 100% of your tip goes directly to the shopper who delivers your order.
- There may be a “pickup fee” on your pick up order that is typically $1.99 for non-Express members. Express membership waives this like it would a delivery fee.
- Pick up orders have no service fees, regardless of non-Express or Express membership.
How To Store Shaoxing Wine
Shaoxing wine does not need to be refrigerated once opened. Just keep it in your pantry and it keeps for years! Check the expiry date on your bottle.
Pictured: Egg Fried Rice
I hope thats helped to answer some questions you mightve had about Shaoxing Wine! Youll find that I use Chinese cooking wine in virtually every Chinese recipe on my site. Ive popped a list of some of the most popular ones below! Nagi x
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How Is Shaoxing Wine Made And What Does It Taste Like
Shaoxing wine can be used in pretty much any Chinese dish from Chop Suey to Mongolian Beef to Kung Pao Chicken to Wonton Soup. It is an ingredient that plays a very important role in Chinese cuisine and is oftentimes used in everyday dishes in Chinese homes and restaurants. This rice wine is particularly good for the preparation of protein dishes that include meat and fish that would be either stir-fried or braised. However, a little bit goes a long way and can help eliminate any unpleasant tastes or smells that can come with meats and fish.
But what happens when you’ve run out of Shaoxing wine and are cooking something that requires something in that vicinity? Try using a product like dry cooking sherry. If you’re unable to find that, look at other possible Chinese rice wines or use sake. You can also use mirin , but it’s important to note that it is much sweeter than Shaoxing wine and would add sugar to the dish. Now, if you’re looking for a non-alcoholic substitute, try using chicken, mushroom, or vegetable stock.