Rice vinegar is used in a lot of Asian cooking because of its mild acidity and hint of sweetness. Recipes usually call for the two most common varieties, rice vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar. What are the differences, and which one should you buy?
How Rice Vinegar Is Made
While there are many types of rice vinegar, including red, brown, and black, the most commonly available one is white rice vinegar. White rice vinegar, sometimes labeled rice wine vinegar, is made by fermenting the sugars in rice first into alcohol, and then into acid.
Seasoned white rice vinegar is made from sake or adding sugar and salt to regular white rice vinegar.
The Differences Between Regular and Seasoned Rice Vinegar
While both may look very similar, seasoned rice vinegar is more flavorful and sweeter because of the addition of sugar, sometimes corn syrup, and salt or MSG. This also means that it contains more calories than regular rice vinegar, which contains zero calories.
Which One Should I Use?
Seasoned rice vinegar is often used in salad dressings and sushi rice since it has more flavor than regular rice vinegar but less acidity. It's great to have around to make a quick dipping sauce for dumplings or egg rolls.
If you were to have only one in your pantry, though, regular rice vinegar is the way to go. Since it has no added salt and sugar, using regular rice vinegar lets you control the amount of seasoning in your food. It can also be used in place of seasoned rice vinegar in a recipe — just keep in mind that you might need to season the dish a little more aggressively to make up for the lack of salt and sugar.