A Guide to Japanese Vinegar

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Unless you specialize in Japanese cooking, the chances are that when you get here, you won’t have a clue what 60% of supermarket products even are. 

It’s not only that the food culture is different, but the fact that it is all written in difficult Japanese characters that won’t be in your textbooks. 

That’s why today, I’m going to tell you about a few types of vinegars. 

Why to care about vinegar

I used to think vinegar was just for fish and chips or a flavour of crisps, but that really isn’t the case. As with most countries, there is a wide variety of 酢 (su) that can be bought in most supermarkets. Each has different uses and different health benefits. 

Some even say that vinegar can:

・Reducing cholesterol

・Weight management

・Blood sugar control

・May help prevent cancer

・May improve heart health

 

While in Japan you can buy many fruit-based/balsamic veneger, I’ll be sticking to the tradtionally Japanese ones. 

Grain vinegar (穀物酢)

This is your standard and most popular vinegar in Japan. Usually made from rice or corn, this vinegar can be used in a wide variety of dishes.  

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Rice vinegar (米酢)

As you can guess, rice vinegar is made from rice. It is said to have the ‘sweetness’ of rice and goes well with typical Japanese dishes, including being used in salad dressings. 

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Sushi vinegar (すし酢)

Ever wondered why the rice in sushi is so much better than the rice you normally make? Because it has vinegar in it! When the switch has clicked on your rice cooker, open it up and add some vinegar. The trick is to lite fan the rice while you mix it. Blowing air on the rice helps dry out excess moisture, leaving you with distinct but soft grains of rice. 

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Black vinegar (黒酢)

Black vinegar is made from matured rice and is high in amino acid. It can be used in most dishes and is said to help fight fatigue. 

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