Seasoned rice vinegar (Recipe: Asian slaw)
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.
A great side dish to anything slathered with a sweet-hot barbecue sauce. Serves 6-8.
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
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.