Vinegars are great for salad dressings and sauces. With so many choices out there, how do we know which ones to use and which ones are the most versatile? I love having a few bottles of different vinegars in my pantry so that I can make any kind of salad dressings for lunch or dinner. Aside from salad dressings, vinegars are also great to add a depth of flavour to your marinades, stews, soups and sauces.
Here are five most common cooking vinegars:
- Red Wine Vinegar
This is a fantastic all –purpose vinegar that is made from fermenting red wine. It is rich and fruity. Use it for salad dressings, marinades or even in soups if you want to give them an extra zing! Keep in mind that if your dishes are pale in colour (ex. Cream sauce), red wine vinegar may discolour them.
- White Wine Vinegar
This vinegar is of course made from white wine, and it is a bit mellower than red wine vinegar. It is also preferred over the harsh distilled white vinegar because white wine vinegar will not over power the flavours in your dish. It will help to brighten up and add a refreshing taste to rich sauces and vinaigrettes.
Grilled Corn Salad with White Wine Vinegar Dressing
- Balsamic Vinegar
A lot of people are familiar with this dark brown vinegar which is made from unfiltered, unfermented grape juice. The process is very similar to wine making where grapes are pressed and aged. The older the vinegar, the sweeter and thicker it is. Balsamic vinegar is great to bring some sweetness to a dish. Its flavor is very distinct and I love using it to marinate meats to make dishs such as sticky grilled chicken wines or pork ribs. It is also great for beef stews and it can even be used in desserts!
- Rice Vinegar
This vinegar is most commonly used in Asia such as China, Japan and Korea. It is made from fermented rice wine. Rice vinegar is mild, subtle and is probably the sweetest out of all the vinegars. One common uses for rice vinegar is seasoning for sushi rice. I love using this vinegar to make dipping sauces and Asian style dressings.
- Cider Vinegar
This vinegar has a hint of apple flavor because is made from pressed apples that are allowed to ferment to become alcohol and then vinegar. The flavor is mellow and sweet, making cider vinegar very versatile. I love using this in homemade barbecue sauce and even for some mild pickling. It is a great everyday use vinegar for dressings, marinates and soups and can be a substitution for red wine vinegar.
Kale Salad with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Olives, Pine Nuts and Cider Vinegar Dressing
Here is a Chinese version of this post on the Day Day Cook website. (Translation courtesy of Day Day Cook Editorial Team).
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My cooking video on Chicken Soba Noodle Salad with Sesame Sauce.