What is Rice Vinegar?
Knowing “what is rice vinegar?” will be our first goal in this article.
You can find many types of vinegar in Japan, as it is one of their indispensable everyday seasoning condiment. When Japan also has fruity vinegar (such as plum and persimmon vinegar), the most popular types of vinegar are their rice vinegar.
Rice vinegar (米酢, komezu) is an almost colorless Japanese rice vinegar, used in a variety of Japanese dishes, such as sushi rice, sunomono (Japanese vinegar dishes), tsukemono (Japanese pickles), and nimono (Japanese simmered dish). It has around 5% acetic acid content, pretty mild for an acid in vinegar.
Rice vinegar has a mild flavor and slightly sweeter if compared with Western vinegar.
Therefore it also works well for salad dressings and dipping sauces.
As you can guess, rice vinegar is made from rice, fermented rice or rice koji, and water.
Find more informations about rice vinegar, how to make rice vinegar, and its benefits in our article below!
About Rice Vinegar: Benefits, Nutrition Facts, and FAQ of Rice Wine Vinegar
In Japanese, rice vinegar is called “komezu”. Rice vinegar has less acidic and a bit sweeter than Western vinegar. The taste is rather mild and works well in the likes of salad dressings and dippings sauces. According to academic journals, rice vinegar also has a lot of health benefits!
We investigate the benefits of rice vinegar, its nutrition, and more about rice vinegar in this article.
Click here to see more >>
Other types of Japanese vinegar also made using rice or ingredients from the rice itself.
For instance, red rice vinegar (akazu) also has the same ‘rice vinegar’ name, and black vinegar (kurozu) also made from rice. But how is it different from rice vinegar?
What is Japanese Red Rice Vinegar (Akazu)?
Red rice vinegar (赤酢, akazu), or also known as sake lees vinegar (粕酢, kasuzu) is one major type of rice vinegar that is made from sake kasu (sake lees).
It has reddish color, therefore called as red rice vinegar.
Sake kasu is the residue from sake fermentation process. It is the mixture of steamed rice and koji in a white, solid form that did not or could not be fermented during the moromi process.
The Edomae Sushi, or the traditional sushi that was invented around the 1800s, is using akazu. The reason is that rice vinegar is expensive during that time, while akazu is cheaper and delicious nonetheless.
Red rice vinegar or sake lees vinegar is known for its characteristics, such as:
• Has a milder acidity than the rice vinegar.
• Stronger umami flavor.
• The longer the brewing/fermentation process, the vinegar color will become darker (reddish color), thus called as red rice vinegar.
• Sushi chef may use akazu for making sushi. Or using the mix of akazu and rice vinegar.
What is Japanese Black Vinegar (Kurozu)?
Japanese black vinegar (黒酢, kurozu) also one of the vinegar that have a long history in Japan. Black vinegar is made with the traditional method and aged for 1-3 years (or depends on the manufacturer).
Generally, black vinegar is made with brown rice or the rice that hasn’t been polished. However, sometimes it is also made by the mixture of barley and wheat. Because of its long-brewing/fermentation process, it got its deep burn caramel-like color, thus called as black vinegar.
Black vinegar is characterized by its mellow, less sour taste. It also has an abundant amount of amino acid if compared to normal rice vinegar, thus esteemed as a healthy drink.
15 to 30cc is enough for the daily intake of black vinegar.
For the consumption tips: please dilute it with water or incorporate it in cooking recipes instead of directly drink it. The acid contained in black vinegar may upset your stomach if drunk as it is.
Let’s Compare the Types of Vinegar! ~ Shortcut to Knowing Different Kinds of Vinegar Similar to Rice Vinegar
The second goal in this article is to “compare the kinds of vinegar similar to rice vinegar”.
Having the right vinegar for the right situation will leave you a remarkable dish, so let’s know its profiles and differences.
In this article, we have summarized the information from 6 kinds of vinegar similar to rice vinegar. Let’s compare each of them!
1. Rice Vinegar vs Rice Wine Vinegar
Rice Vinegar (left) and Rice Wine/Sake (right)
There’s often confusion about "rice vinegar" and "rice wine vinegar".
The main questions are whether they’re interchangeable, and what the difference is.
Rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are the same thing.
So it's the only a matter of difference in the wording on the label.
But, if what you're confusing is the difference between "rice wine" and "rice vinegar", then they are completely different.
First, rice wine is an alcoholic seasoning, or drink or liquor made from rice, just like wine is made from grape. Most common example of rice wine are sake and mirin.
And rice vinegar, is an acid vinegar made from rice just like I am explaining in this article.
So the conclusions are:
Rice vinegar → a seasoning, a vinegar made from rice, rice koji/koji rice, and water.
Rice wine vinegar → a vinegar, just different term of rice vinegar.
Rice wine → alcoholic drink and seasoning made from rice and koji rice. The examples are sake and mirin.
2. Rice Vinegar vs White Vinegar
White vinegar (or also called as distilled white vinegar) is the very common type of vinegar that is produced by the fermentation of distilled grain alcohol, sugar cane, corn, etc. White vinegar is inexpensive, and you can easily find it anywhere.
This type of vinegar is suitable for cooking, baking, pickling, laboratory use, and cleaning purposes.
It has a white, clear color. The taste is strong and clean compared to rice vinegar.
White vinegar consists of 5-10% acetic acid and 90-95% water. Some white vinegar with up to 20% acetic acid is only suitable for cleaning, so please don’t use it for consumption.
Now the common question: Can you substitute white vinegar for rice vinegar?
Well, no. Because rice vinegar tends to have a higher acid than rice vinegar. You may want to use white vinegar for making Western cuisines. While using rice vinegar for making Eastern cuisine.
3. Rice Vinegar vs Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) comes from crushed apples that have undergone fermentation.
Apple vinegar has a moderate acidity similar to rice vinegar that is 5-6% acetic acid. The color of this vinegar is yellowish to orange, amber color.
This type of vinegar is the best substitute for rice vinegar, as it has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and has a hint of apple notes in it.
Read more about the substitute for rice vinegar here:
What is the Substitute for Rice Vinegar?
“I want to cook, but I’m out of rice vinegar!!”
What can i use instead of rice vinegar? What is the substitute for rice vinegar?
Rice vinegar is often seen to have some substitutes, but actually, there is only one suitable to be its substitute. Learn what it is and know the others can’t be the substitute for rice vinegar in this article!
Click here to see more >>
4. Rice Vinegar vs Grain Vinegar
Grain vinegar (穀物酢, kokumotsu su) is the commonly brewed vinegar in Japan made from grains (rice, wheat, sake lees, corn, etc.) The price is reasonable and characterized by the refreshing, moderate acidity and a slight vinegar scent.
You can easily find grain vinegar in Japan, as it is widely used for daily cooking.
Grain vinegar has similar uses to rice vinegar. It is suitable for cooking, pickling, topping, and as a salad dressing. Some recipes like simmered dishes also advise combining grain vinegar and rice vinegar.
Then, what is the difference between grain vinegar and malt vinegar?
Malt vinegar is vinegar made from germinated grain (barley, wheat, corn, etc.) converted them into sugars, then aged for several months to develop the taste of vinegar.
It is characterized by a unique flavor and scent similar to beer, and 4-5% acidity. Several types of malt vinegar include distilled, light, and dark malt vinegar.
5. Rice Vinegar vs Chinese Rice Vinegar
Chinese rice vinegar or Chinese black vinegar is a vinegar made from fermenting glutinous rice (and sometimes mixed with barley or wheat) and it is produced with the traditional Chinese vinegar production method.
The acidity of Chinese rice vinegar is similar to Japanese rice vinegar, but with a darker color. This vinegar is very suitable for cooking and seasoning.
It has a strong taste than Japanese rice vinegar, with a smoky and a hint of umami. Because of its unique flavor, Chinese rice vinegar is not suitable to substitute with any Western vinegar.
6. Rice Vinegar vs Seasoned Rice Vinegar
Seasoned rice vinegar (合わせ酢, awasezu) is a type of rice vinegar that contains additional sugar, salt, corn syrup, and often flavor enhancers to make it more flavorful and sweeter. This vinegar is also called sushi vinegar.
Because it has additional ingredients, seasoned rice vinegar has more calorie, carbs, and sodium than the unseasoned rice vinegar. If you are planning to use rice vinegar for many purposes, we recommend using unseasoned rice vinegar.
Some manufacturer sells seasoned rice vinegar, meaning you can use it directly to make sushi rice. How to make sushi rice using seasoned rice vinegar? Scroll more to get the answer.
What is the Vinegar for Sushi Rice?
Seasoned rice vinegar or sushi vinegar, is usually used to make sushi rice by Japanese households to sushi restaurants. The seasoned rice vinegar is ready-to-use vinegar for sushi rice.
But, you can also use unseasoned rice vinegar to make sushi rice. All you need to do is to pre-mix it with sugar and salt in a saucepan with medium heat until dissolved.
Alternatively, you can also use red rice vinegar (akazu). When using akazu, you don’t have to add sugar because it is naturally sweet. Akazu could give beautiful color to the sushi rice.
To feel the authentic Japanese standard taste of sushi, let’s use only short-grain Japanese white rice. With these ingredients, you can make sushi dishes, such as hand-rolled sushi, chirashizushi, inari sushi, etc.
How much Rice Vinegar for Making Sushi Rice?
If you are using seasoned rice vinegar for sushi rice:
Uncooked rice..........................2 go (approximately 322 grams)
Seasoned rice vinegar.............4 tbsp
If you are using unseasoned rice vinegar for sushi rice:
Uncooked rice..........................3 go (approximately 484 grams)
Unseasoned rice vinegar........4 tbsp