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September 27, 2007

Seasoned rice vinegar (Recipe: Asian slaw) {vegetarian}

Seasonedricevinegar

Take a good look at the last bottle of seasoned rice vinegar I'm ever going to have in The Perfect Pantry.

Beautiful, isn't it? Clear, and light. Well, lite, as it says on the label. And that's part of the problem.

Seasoned rice vinegar is rice vinegar (also known as rice wine vinegar) with salt and sugar (and sometimes sake) added. That's it -- no big mystery. Also known as sushi vinegar, seasoned rice vinegar makes a nice dressing for salads or vegetables, and it saves time when you're making sushi rice -- not that dissolving a bit of sugar and salt in plain rice vinegar is such a taxing task (it takes two minutes on the stove).

The folks at Marukan claim that this "lite" seasoned rice vinegar has 32% less sodium than the regular seasoned rice vinegar; it's also lower in acidity (4.1% acidity for regular rice vinegar, 2.7% for the "lite").

Both of those qualities, less sodium and low acidity, are appealing, but here's what convinced me that this product should no longer be on my pantry shelf: when I looked up the substitution ratio, I discovered, to my dismay, that 3/4 cup plain rice vinegar plus 1/4 cup sugar plus 2 teaspoons of salt was the suggested proportion.

That's an awful lot of sugar and salt, isn't it? And for the "lite" product, that would mean only 1 teaspoon of salt, but still too much sugar. From now on, I'll stick with plain rice vinegar, which I can adulterate with sugar and salt to my own taste.

As I poke around in my pantry, learning more about each of the items I keep in the fridge, freezer, cupboards and spice rack, occasionally I run across something I've always had on hand, but never knew enough about. And what I learn makes me reconsider the item's value to my cooking. Seasoned rice vinegar is one of those items, so this bottle will be my last.

Asian slaw

A great side dish to anything slathered with a sweet-hot barbecue sauce. Serves 6-8.

Ingredients

1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 cup shredded daikon radish
2 tsp mint or basil leaves, torn or julienned
4 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp black sesame seeds
To your taste: salt, black pepper, sugar, honey

Directions

In a large bowl, place cabbages, carrot, daikon and mint or basil leaves (do not mix, yet). In a smaller bowl, whisk together seasoned rice vinegar, mustard, ginger, vegetable oil, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Taste, and adjust to your taste with salt, black pepper, sugar or honey. Pour dressing over the vegetables, and toss well to combine. Place in a serving bowl, and refrigerate for 1 hour, to allow the flavors to combine. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top, and serve.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Refrigerator zucchini pickles
Tomato nectarine chutney
Carrot beet salad
Ken Hom's cold aubergine salad

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Comments

So funny... It's true we have to be careful of what the word 'light' really imply... I think you are right, plain vinegar should be a better option since we just can season it the way we want it!

well, goodbye then. It´s much more fun to tinker with ingredients to suit yourself, anyway.

I've never bought seasoned rice vinegar, and had no idea it had so much salt and sugar--good to know it's something to be avoided. Of course, I'm always suspicious of products labeled with the word "lite."

Asian slaw sound delicious, a great companion to all kinds of dishes.

I've no wonder why you cook delicious stuffs: that's cause you pantry is always full of goodies at hand Lydia!:)

I never thought to buy seasoned rice vinegar but now that you describe it makes it sound like a great thing to have in the pantry. This asian slaw seems like something I'd love to have with grilled food.

I love that type of slaw....
Amazing what we learn when we decide to investigate isn't it? I bet the 'seasoned' one is a lot more expensive, too!

Anh, I just never realized how much I don't need this. Always better to season to your own taste -- that's what I always tell people, and now I have to remind myself!

Lobster, you are so right.

Lisa, notice how small the word "lite" is on this label? I doubt I even noticed it when I bought this bottle.

Kelly, I love Asian slaw with grilled salmon or ribs.

Valentina, thanks! I do know that before I started buying authentic Asian condiments, my food never tasted quite right.

Veron, yes yes yes to Asian slaw with grilled food (see above... salmon and ribs are favorites). But I don't think I'll be adding seasoned rice vinegar back into my pantry any time soon. Plain rice vinegar is a must -- with a tiny bit of sugar or simple syrup mixed in, it's perfect for sushi.

Katie, now that you bring up the cost, I'll have to go check on that. I'll bet you're right.

Something tells me I've told you this before, but I once used rice vinegar in a cucumber salad and it surely wasn't the same as white wine vinegar...yuck! This looks great though.

I'm trying to remember if I have seen the "Lite" version around. Can it be used for cooking too, though it says salad dressing?

This was one of the products I threw away when I quit eating sugar. I knew there had to be a fair amount of sugar in there from the taste.

Thanks for all that info. I actually have a bottle, i just thought that it was easier when I am making sushi. But you are right that making your own from plain vinegar isn't hard work. So many things in my pantry that I just take for granted.

Hillary, when you use rice vinegar in a salad dressing, you often need something sweet (sugar, honey, agave) to balance it. But the amount you need is far less than is already present in this seasoned rice vinegar.

Tigerfish, yes, I've used this for cooking, but mostly for sushi.

Kalyn, I was shocked at how much sugar was recommended on the substitution. I don't really have a sweet tooth, so I'm happy to stick with making my own sweetening for sushi rice.

Nora, it is easier, but starting with rice vinegar (or rice wine vinegar -- they're the same thing) and adding sugar is easy, too, and that's what I'm going to do from now on. And believe me, I am the queen of taking pantry items for granted -- so I'm the first to admit when I've learned why something should go!

Lydia, another great finding! I should learn from you, start checking up the labels more carefully. Sometimes in advertising, that xxx% more or xxx% less in volume is merely a catchy thing, but in fact not much different.

Lydia, I've noticed that too the stuff is far too syrupy but nevertheless the slaw looks great!

Gattina, I'm definitely learning so much about my pantry items -- and although it's hard to part with any of them, sometimes I realize I haven't been reading the labels carefully enough, either.

Callipygia, the slaw is great and you can make it with regular rice wine vinegar and sugar to your own taste, instead of using the seasoned rice vinegar.

I used that same exact vinegar tonight! I made Sesame Ginger Soba. The recipe is on my blog!

S, I do love your recipe -- thanks for visiting The Perfect Pantry.

Just checked: in addition to an even worse seasoned rice vinegar, I have a (no complaints) Ponzu from Marukan. I use it occasionally in stir fry type meals.

Susan, I think I might have some of that same Ponzu.... will have to check now!

On another site you commented that you liked to drink coconut milk from cold coconuts...what you drank was coconut water (which is available in most any Caribbean market)...coconut MILK is made from grated coconut which is pressed to extract the, "milk" (not very drinkable at all). Citing...
http://www.slashfood.com/2006/05/06/coconut-milk-vs-coconut-cream-vs-coconut-water/

Just an fyi to educate, not critixize

Keith, thanks for visiting The Perfect Pantry. You're right about the distinction between coconut water and milk -- I think I've made that distinction in posts on this blog, though obviously I misspoke (mistyped?) on another. Thanks for the catch.

I can't agree more with seasoned rice vinegar! Its a huge pet peeve of mine. I have much more control over the recipe when I can season it.

Andy, this is truly the last bottle I will ever buy! I agree with you completely.

WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU GET 12 OUNCES FOR 2.29
TODAYS PRICE IS TWICE THAT

Vick, as you can see, my grocery has great prices. This was purchased last summer.

Just made the dressing -- yum. Will be a new healthy standard.

Yesterday I stood in front of the shelf wondering, did the recipe say seasoned rice vinegar or plain? When I checked at home it said seasoned, but I remembered more than one kind of seasoned at the store! After reading this, I'm so glad I bought the plain--my first rice vinegar. I'll season it sparsely.

So why not just not put them in? Seems silly to me to give up a product because you don't like how the manufacturer suggests to use it.

I purchase paper products at a restaurant supply store and I noticed how inexpensive the rice vinegar is compared to the small bottles in grocery stores. I also noticed how sweet the seasoned rice vinegar is in the store - especially the Marukan brand - too sweet for my taste. So today I picked up a gallon of plain rice vinegar for less than 8 dollars and I will season it myself from now on.

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