Wine has three main uses in the kitchen – as a marinade ingredient, a cooking liquid, and a flavoring in a finished dish. Wine's function in cooking is to enhance, intensify, and accent the flavor and aroma of food – not to mask, but to fortify, the flavor of what you're cooking.
In Chinese cuisine, Chinese cooking wine is a staple ingredient for Chinese dishes and it's an essential item for any Chinese restaurant.
The first thing to know about Chinese cooking wine is that it's not the same as regular cooking wines. Chinese rice wines are made with glutinous rice. The resulting beverage is less syrupy and has a lighter texture and flavor than its Western counterpart. It's often used in hearty soups and stir-fries; think of it as the Asian version of red wine in a French meat stew.
In this article, we’re going to explain what makes each kind unique and how to use it.
Shaoxing Cooking Wine
Shaoxing, also known as Shao-hsing or Shaohsing wine) is a type of Chinese rice wine made in Shaoxing, a city in China’s Zhejiang Province famous for rice wine production. It’s a key ingredient in many Chinese dishes and will create that authentic restaurant flavor that you’ve been trying to replicate at home.
Shaoxing wine is one of the oldest types of Chinese rice wine. The production process involves fermenting rice, water, and a slight addition of wheat. Clear rather than cloudy, it has a dark amber color, with a sweet, fragrant aroma.
This rice wine is particularly good for the preparation of dishes that include meat and fish that would be either stir-fried or braised. However, a little bit goes a long way, it can help eliminate any unpleasant smell or tastes that can come with fish and meat.
You can find Shaoxing wine at your local Chinese grocery store, where they'll normally have several types to choose from.
Fujian Cooking Wine
Fujian cooking wine, also known as Fujian Laojiu or Fukien, is a type of huangjiu created by fermenting glutinous rice with red rice yeast and white yeast in the Fujian region of China.
It has a pleasant liquor flavor with the fragrance of rice. The sourness and sweetness give Fujian cooking wine a fresh flavor. It can be used to enhance the flavor of a variety of dishes, particularly those that contain seafood or meat. It's also used to make deep-fried food marinades and dipping sauces.
The most well-known Fujian cooking wine available in US Asian stores is the Soeos.
Chinese Rose Wine
Chinese Rose Wine also known as Mei Kuei Lu Chiew is a rose-flavored sorghum liquor. The sorghum liquor, or gāoliáng jiǔ is infused with fresh rose flowers and sugar and gives a fragrant liquor tasting like slightly sweetened vodka.
Chinese Rose Wine is the key ingredient in Cantonese-style dishes such as roast meats, cured sausages, and also braised dishes.
Cooking with Chinese cooking wine can take your Chinese dishes to the next level! You’re ready to embark on an exciting adventure into the world of Chinese cuisine. With a trip to the local Asian food store and a few simple recipes, you'll be enjoying delicious meals that will impress even the pickiest eaters at your dinner table.
Chinese cooking wine can be purchased at Asian grocery stores. However, you should use caution when cooking with Chinese wine because it contains alcohol that could cause side effects if consumed too much.