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Chinese Cooking Wine Recipes: Add Authentic Flavour to Your Dishes

If you're looking to add some depth and complexity to your Chinese cooking, incorporating Chinese cooking wine into your recipes is a great way to start. Chinese cooking wine, also known as Shaoxing wine, is a key ingredient in many traditional Chinese dishes, adding a unique flavour and aroma to your meals. It's a versatile ingredient that can be used in marinades, stir-fries, braises, and much more.

A wok sizzles as Chinese cooking wine is added to a stir-fry. Steam rises and the aroma of ginger and garlic fills the air

To understand Chinese cooking wine, it's important to know that it's made from fermented rice, just like sake and mirin. However, the unique combination of yeast and bacteria used in the fermentation process gives Chinese cooking wine its distinct flavour and aroma. It's a staple ingredient in Chinese cuisine, and you'll find it in many classic dishes, such as drunken chicken, red-cooked pork, and steamed fish.

Cooking with Chinese wine can be intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to experiment with a variety of recipes. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about Chinese cooking wine, including how to find and substitute it, as well as some great recipes to get you started. So take out your wok and let's get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese cooking wine, also known as Shaoxing wine, is a key ingredient in many traditional Chinese dishes, adding a unique flavour and aroma to your meals.
  • Chinese cooking wine is made from fermented rice and is a staple ingredient in Chinese cuisine, used in many classic dishes such as drunken chicken and red-cooked pork.
  • Cooking with Chinese wine can be intimidating at first, but with some practice, you'll be able to experiment with a variety of recipes and add some depth and complexity to your Chinese cooking.

Understanding Chinese Cooking Wine

A bottle of Chinese cooking wine sits on a kitchen counter, surrounded by fresh ingredients and cooking utensils. A wisp of steam rises from a sizzling pan as the aroma of the wine fills the air

Chinese cooking wine is an essential ingredient in Chinese cuisine. It is used to add flavour, aroma and depth to dishes. It is made from fermented grains, usually rice or wheat, and has an alcohol content of around 15-20%. In this section, we will discuss the history and origin of Chinese cooking wine, the types of Chinese cooking wine available and the most popular type of Chinese cooking wine, Shaoxing wine.

History and Origin

Chinese cooking wine has been used in Chinese cuisine for over 2000 years. It is believed to have originated in China during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). It was used as a medicine to treat various ailments, and it was also used in cooking. Over time, it became a staple ingredient in Chinese cuisine.

Types of Chinese Cooking Wine

There are several types of Chinese cooking wine available, including Shaoxing wine, Hua Diao wine, and Yellow wine. Shaoxing wine is the most popular type of Chinese cooking wine and is widely used in Chinese cuisine. Hua Diao wine is sweeter than Shaoxing wine and is used in dishes that require a sweeter taste. Yellow wine has a lower alcohol content than other types of Chinese cooking wine and is used in dishes that require a milder taste.

Shaoxing Wine: The Gold Standard

Shaoxing wine is considered the gold standard of Chinese cooking wine. It is made from glutinous rice and is produced in the city of Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province, China. It has a rich, nutty flavour and is used in a variety of dishes, including stir-fries, stews, and marinades. It is also used in the famous Chinese dish, drunken chicken.

Shaoxing wine comes in two varieties: the aged and the non-aged. The aged Shaoxing wine is darker in colour and has a stronger flavour than the non-aged Shaoxing wine. It is aged for at least 10 years in clay jars, which gives it a unique flavour. The non-aged Shaoxing wine is lighter in colour and has a milder flavour.

When using Shaoxing wine in your recipes, it is important to use a high-quality wine. The quality of the wine can affect the taste of your dish. Look for a wine that is made from high-quality glutinous rice and has been aged for at least a few years.

If you are looking to add seafood to your Chinese cooking wine recipe, you can use prawns, scallops or squid. These seafood options pair well with Shaoxing wine and can add extra flavour and texture to your dish.

Cooking with Chinese Wine

A wok sizzles as Chinese wine is poured in. Steam rises as the ingredients are tossed and sizzled

If you are looking to add a unique and flavourful twist to your Chinese dishes, look no further than Chinese cooking wine. Chinese cooking wine is a key ingredient in many Chinese recipes, from stir-fries to braised dishes, and adds a depth of flavour that cannot be achieved with other types of wine.

Marinades and Seasonings

Chinese cooking wine is a popular choice for marinades and seasonings. It adds a subtle sweetness and umami flavour to meats, such as chicken thighs and beef, and seafood, such as shrimp. To create a marinade, simply mix Chinese cooking wine with soy sauce, ginger, fresh garlic and cornstarch. Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, or overnight for more flavourful results.

Braising and Stewing

Chinese cooking wine is also commonly used in braised dishes, such as hong shao rou (red-braised pork belly) and three cup chicken. The wine adds a rich and complex flavour to the dish, and also helps to tenderize the meat. To make a braised dish, simply brown the meat, then add Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, chicken stock, and a touch of sugar. Simmer the dish over low heat until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened.

Stir-Frying Techniques

Chinese cooking wine can also be used in stir-fry dishes. It pairs well with vegetables, such as bean sprouts and carrots, and proteins, such as tofu and mushrooms. To make a stir-fry, heat a wok or skillet over high heat, add oil and your choice of protein and vegetables. Add Chinese cooking wine and oyster sauce to create a savoury sauce that coats the ingredients. Serve over rice or noodles for a complete meal.

When using Chinese cooking wine in your recipes, it is important to use the correct type of wine. Shaoxing wine is the most commonly used Chinese cooking wine and can be found in most Asian grocery stores. If you cannot find Chinese cooking wine, you can substitute it with cooking sake or beer.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can also try adding seafood to your Chinese cooking wine recipes. Use fresh or frozen prawns or scallops to create a delicious seafood stir-fry or add mussels or clams to your braised dishes for a taste of the sea.

Recipes Featuring Chinese Cooking Wine

A bottle of Chinese cooking wine surrounded by fresh ginger, garlic, and green onions, with a wok and various cooking utensils in the background

If you're looking to add a touch of authentic Chinese flavour to your cooking, then Chinese cooking wine is a must-have ingredient. It's a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of Chinese recipes, from savoury soups to meaty stir-fries. Here are three recipes featuring Chinese cooking wine that you can try at home.

Classic Drunken Chicken

Drunken Chicken is a classic Chinese dish that's perfect for a special occasion. It's a cold dish that's marinated in Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. The dish is called "drunken" because the chicken is soaked in the marinade for several hours, giving it a slightly intoxicating flavour. Once the chicken is cooked, it's served cold and garnished with scallions.

To make this dish, you'll need:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 cup Chinese cooking wine
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ginger, chopped
  • 1/4 cup garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped

To prepare the chicken, first clean it thoroughly and remove any giblets. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add the chicken. Boil for 20 minutes, then remove the chicken and let it cool.

In a bowl, mix together the Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Place the chicken in a large bowl and pour the marinade over it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When you're ready to serve, remove the chicken from the marinade and slice it into pieces. Garnish with scallions and serve cold.

Savoury Wonton Soup

Wonton soup is a classic Chinese soup that's perfect for a cold winter day. It's a savoury soup that's filled with wontons, which are small dumplings filled with meat or seafood. The soup is flavoured with Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce and ginger, giving it a rich and complex flavour.

To make this soup, you'll need:

  • 1 package of wonton wrappers
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 scallions, chopped

To make the wonton filling, mix together the ground pork, Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce and ginger in a bowl. Place a small spoonful of filling in the centre of each wonton wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper with water and fold it in half to form a triangle. Press the edges together to seal.

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth and water to a boil. Add the wontons to the pot and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until they float to the surface. Add the scallions to the pot and cook for an additional minute. Serve hot.

Kung Pao Chicken Delight

Kung Pao Chicken is a spicy and flavourful Chinese dish that's perfect for a weeknight dinner. It's a stir-fry dish that's made with chicken, vegetables and peanuts. The dish is flavoured with Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce and chili paste, giving it a spicy and tangy flavour.

To make this dish, you'll need:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 4 scallions, chopped

In a bowl, mix together the Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, cornstarch, chili paste and sugar. Add the chicken and toss to coat.

In a large wok or skillet, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry for 5-7 minutes, or until cooked through. Add the bell peppers and peanuts and stir-fry for an additional 2-3 minutes. Garnish with scallions and serve hot.

If you're looking to add a little extra flavour to your Kung Pao Chicken, consider adding some seafood to the dish. Shrimp or squid would be great additions to this dish, giving it a little extra texture and flavour.

Finding and Substituting Chinese Wine

A hand pours Chinese wine into a measuring cup, ready to substitute in a recipe. Ingredients and cooking utensils are scattered on the kitchen counter

Chinese cooking wine, also known as Shaoxing wine, is a popular ingredient in many Chinese dishes. It has a unique flavour that adds depth and richness to your dishes. However, if you can't find Chinese cooking wine at your local Asian grocery store or you prefer not to use alcohol in your cooking, there are several substitutes you can use.

Shopping at Asian Grocery Stores

If you have access to an Asian grocery store, you will likely find Chinese cooking wine, also known as Shaoxing wine, on the shelves. Other types of Chinese rice wine, such as Pagoda and Taiwan, may also be available. These are great options for substituting Chinese cooking wine in your recipes.

Non-Alcoholic Alternatives

If you prefer not to use alcohol in your cooking, there are several non-alcoholic substitutes you can use. Chicken broth is a great substitute for Chinese cooking wine. It adds flavour and depth to your dishes without the alcohol content.

Another option is to use non-alcoholic white wine or beer. Mix one part Chinese cooking wine with one part non-alcoholic white wine or beer. Dry vermouth is also a good substitute for Chinese cooking wine.

For a tangy flavour, you can use Chinese black vinegar, also known as Chinkiang vinegar. It can be used as a substitute for Chinese cooking wine in certain recipes. Apple cider vinegar is another non-alcoholic alternative that can be used as a substitute for Chinese cooking wine.

If you are looking for an alcoholic substitute, dry sherry is a good option. It has a similar flavour profile to Chinese cooking wine and is readily available in most liquor stores.

When proposing seafood in your recipe, you can use shrimp or squid as they are commonly used in Chinese cuisine. However, it is important to note that not all seafood will pair well with every recipe, so be sure to choose the type of seafood that complements the other ingredients in your dish.

There are several substitutes for Chinese cooking wine that you can use in your recipes. Whether you prefer to use alcohol or not, there are options available that will add depth and flavour to your dishes.

Integrating Chinese Cooking Wine into Your Pantry

A bottle of Chinese cooking wine sits on a shelf surrounded by various spices and ingredients, ready to be used in a recipe

Chinese cooking wine, also known as Shaoxing wine, is a versatile pantry ingredient that can be used to add depth and complexity to a wide range of dishes. Here are some tips on how to store and use Chinese cooking wine in your cooking.

Storage and Preservation

Chinese cooking wine has an alcohol by volume (ABV) ranging from 14 to 20 percent. To preserve its fragrance and flavour, it is best to store it in a cool, dark place like a pantry or cupboard. Once opened, it should be kept in the refrigerator and used within a few months.

Pairing with Other Ingredients

Chinese cooking wine pairs well with soy sauce, sugar, and salt to create a savoury and slightly sweet flavour profile. For a lighter taste, use light soy sauce, while dark soy sauce can add colour and depth to the dish. You can also mix Chinese cooking wine with other sauces and seasonings to create a custom flavour.

Chinese cooking wine can also be used to transform leftovers into a new and exciting dish. Add a splash of Chinese cooking wine to leftover stir-fry or fried rice to give it a new lease of life.

When it comes to pairing with seafood, Chinese cooking wine works well with shrimp, scallops, and crab. It can also be used to marinate fish before cooking. For a delicious seafood stir-fry, try using Chinese cooking wine with ginger, garlic, and vegetables.

In conclusion, Chinese cooking wine is a versatile ingredient that can be used to add flavour and fragrance to a wide range of dishes. With proper storage and pairing with other ingredients, it can become a staple in your pantry.

Frequently Asked Questions

A bottle of Chinese cooking wine surrounded by various ingredients and cooking utensils on a kitchen counter

What dishes can I enhance with Chinese cooking wine?

Chinese cooking wine is a versatile ingredient that can enhance the flavour of many dishes. It's commonly used in stir-fries, marinades, and braised meat dishes. You can also use it to add depth to soups and stews. If you're a seafood lover, try adding Chinese cooking wine to your steamed or stir-fried fish or shellfish dishes for an extra flavour boost.

Can I use a different wine as a substitute for Chinese cooking wine?

While Chinese cooking wine is the traditional choice for many Chinese recipes, you can substitute it with other types of wine if you don't have any on hand. Dry sherry or mirin are good alternatives that will give your dish a similar flavour. However, keep in mind that the taste may not be exactly the same as when using Chinese cooking wine.

Where's the best place to purchase Shaoxing wine?

Shaoxing wine can be found in most Asian grocery stores or online. Look for a reputable brand and choose the type that's recommended for culinary use. If you're unable to find Shaoxing wine, you can substitute it with other types of Chinese cooking wine.

How does Chinese cooking wine differ from regular wine in recipes?

Chinese cooking wine is made specifically for culinary use and has a higher alcohol content than regular wine. It also has a distinct flavour and aroma that's unique to Chinese cuisine. When used in recipes, it helps to tenderize meat and add depth of flavour to dishes.

Which type of Chinese wine is recommended for culinary use?

Shaoxing wine is the most commonly used type of Chinese cooking wine in recipes. It has a rich, nutty flavour and is available in both dark and light varieties. However, other types of Chinese cooking wine, such as huadiao wine or mijiu, can also be used in recipes.

Is there a non-alcoholic alternative to Chinese cooking wine that maintains flavour?

If you prefer not to use alcohol in your cooking, you can substitute Chinese cooking wine with chicken or vegetable broth. However, keep in mind that the flavour may not be exactly the same as when using Chinese cooking wine. If you're looking for a non-alcoholic alternative with a similar flavour profile, try using rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar mixed with a small amount of sugar.

If you're looking to add more flavour to your Chinese dishes, try incorporating Chinese cooking wine into your recipes. It's a versatile ingredient that can enhance the taste of many dishes, from stir-fries to soups. Don't be afraid to experiment with different types of Chinese cooking wine and see which ones work best for your favourite recipes.