Flickr: Jules

10 Brilliant, Simple Uses for Rice Wine Vinegar

Products featured on Wide Open Country are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Do you have a bottle of rice wine vinegar lingering in your pantry, unused? Maybe you always pass it at the grocery store and wonder just what it can be used for. Before we get into the specifics, let's start with the basics. Vinegar is a solution of a weak acid in water. It's made by taking the fermentation process that creates alcohol one step further through the addition of bacteria, which converts the alcohol into acid. In other words, any alcohol we drink probably has a vinegar equivalent.

Take vodka, made from grain alcohol, for example. Its vinegar equivalent is regular distilled white vinegar, which lives in every kitchen in America. Red and white wine become red and white wine vinegar, respectively, and from malted barley, we get beer and malt vinegar, possibly the greatest condiment on French fries besides mayonnaise, in my opinion. I'm a proud Texan, but those Europeans know a good thing when they see one. So science aside, let's talk rice wine vinegar.

What is Rice Wine Vinegar? 

It follows then that seasoned rice vinegar, also called rice wine vinegar, is made from sake, or wine born from fermented rice. The difference between the names often causes confusion but is purely semantic: rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are the same things. It helps to understand that rice vinegar is made by further fermenting rice wine.

The most distinctive characteristic of rice wine vinegar is its subtle and delicately sweet flavor relative to other vinegar, especially Western vinegar. Where balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar, for example, have bold acidic flavors that makes them ideal candidates for certain jobs, like vinaigrettes, they also tend to overpower more nuanced ingredients.

Marukan Seasoned Rice Vinegar

When just a touch of sweetness and acidity is called for, rice wine vinegar is what you want. The seasoned rice wine vinegar flavor pairs well with Asian cooking, though that is a well-known fact. It accompanies sweet-and-sour dishes perfectly as the acetic acid is just the right amount to let the sweetness shine.

This brings us to what, specifically, rice wine vinegar is useful for. There are even some non-culinary uses that might surprise you!

1. Pickling

Vinegar is an important component in pickles, so why not use rice vinegar for Asian-inspired pickles? There are also many health benefits to pickles, and vinegar contributes to some of them!

2. Sushi Rice

sushi rolls

Rice wine vinegar is an essential ingredient in the preparation of sushi rice that gives it its distinctive flavor.

3. Marinades

A raw flank steak marinating in a glass baking dish

You could theoretically substitute rice wine vinegar for any other vinegar in marinade recipes, but it compliments Asian flavor profiles the best.

4. Cocktails

paloma cocktail

Wide Open Eats

Adding rice wine vinegar to cocktails is a great way to give them a lift of brightness. Rice wine vinegar and cucumbers play really well together, creating subtle, refreshing flavor infusions. It'll come in handy when you're making big batch cocktails.

5. On French Fries

French fries

Taking a cue from our British and Canadian friends who had the genius idea to flavor their fries with malt vinegar, if you want a less punchy flavor, or if you simply don't have malt vinegar in the pantry, save a trip to the store and go with rice wine vinegar.

Try this recipe for Homemade Salt and Vinegar Fries here from Let's Mingle Blog.

6. Stir-Fries

stir fry dish

For a quick, healthy dinner with a lot of flavors, stir-fry some veggies and make a basic sauce with chicken broth, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and a little sugar.

7. Dipping Sauces

buffalo dip

Soy sauce and rice wine vinegar team up again with some help from their friend sesame oil to create a delicious dipping sauce for pot-stickers, sushi, chicken, egg rolls, or really anything.

Get the recipe here.

8. Salad Dressings

Peppered thyme honey sauce.

Getty Images

Remember when I said red wine vinegar is perfect for vinaigrettes? It is. But so is rice wine vinegar, if you want to tone down the acidity a bit.

9. Washing Your Whites

laundry machine

For a natural cleaner that makes your whites bright, clean, and soft, try adding five drops of lemon essential oil to two cups of rice wine vinegar and using that instead of laundry detergent or bleach.

10. Facial Toner

facial toner and moisturizer

Rice vinegar pairs with distilled water and tea tree oil to create a facial toner that nourishes your skin without stripping it of any natural necessities. Keep the chemicals away and enjoy clean, fresh skin.

READ MORE: 8 Ingenious Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar You Didn't Know About