Transform Your Vegetables with This Smoky Ingredient

February  7, 2018

A balsamic vinegar makes steaks and strawberries and salads sing. A shot of red wine vinegar tempers creamy egg yolks into the best balanced breakfast. And somewhat-aggressive white vinegar cleans your kitchen or creates a finger-licking glaze. But what about black vinegar?

Characterized by a bold salty, smoky, slightly-fruity flavor, black vinegar—also called Chinkiang or Zhenjiang (the city it originated from) vinegar—is typically made from fermented glutinous rice. Every Grain of Rice author Fuchsia Dunlop writes that good black vinegar derives its color from charred rice and has a mellow, complex flavor with slight acidity. It's less sweet than balsamic, but not as tart as sherry or red wine vinegar.

In his new book, Green Burgers, self-proclaimed “Cabbage Butcher” Martin Nordin explains why you want it on your meatless burgers:

The black vinegar mix can be used for a lot of things, but is particularly good for counterbalancing raw ingredients that are on the sweet side, like sweet potatoes, parsnips, and Jerusalem artichokes, he says.

Black vinegar's depth of flavor makes it an ideal dipping sauce for dumplings or scallion pancakes, but if you're looking for other ways to use black vinegar, substitute it in one of these recipes:

Do you use black vinegar? Share your favorite ways in the comments below!

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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.