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Japanese rice vinegar (Recipe: carrot beet salad) {vegan}

In a pantry filled with olive oils from Italy, Spain, California and Trader Joe's, there's bound to be a vinegar or two. Or more. Welcome to Vinegar Week, Day 2.


In a blind taste test, would you be able to tell the difference between Japanese rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar?


Would you know which is which?

Maybe not.

Does it matter?

Not so much.

In fact, they are virtually the same product, as both are made from rice and not from wine. Both are pale in color, slightly sweet, moderately acidic, and mild in flavor. And in most recipes they are interchangeable.

Kind of like ketchup and tomato ketchup, if you catch my meaning.

Rice vinegar is made from distilled fermented white rice, slowly brewed over a period of one month. The Marukan and Mitsukan brands are excellent, and they're easy to find in supermarkets and Asian groceries. When a recipe calls for rice vinegar, generally it means this Japanese rice (a.k.a. rice wine) vinegar. There are Korean rice vinegars (much stronger), and Chinese rice vinegars (red and chinkiang), and of course there's shao hsing wine, which is not vinegar but is made from rice.

If you don't have rice vinegar, a.k.a. rice wine vinegar, you can substitute cider vinegar or white wine vinegar in most recipes, as in these dipping sauces, marinades, stir fries and salads. What you should not substitute, unless a recipe calls for it, is seasoned rice vinegar -- which is rice vinegar pumped up with sake, sugar and salt -- or mirin, which is sweetened rice wine for cooking.

Confusing, isn't it?

Carrot beet salad

Refreshing for summer and so yin-yang on the plate, this salad serves 6.


1/4 cup minced shallot
2 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Hot sauce, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cups finely shredded carrots
4 cups finely shredded peeled raw beets (approximately 3/4 lb)
Baby spinach leaves, for garnish


In a blender or food processor, puree first seven ingredients. With motor running, add olive oil in a stream and blend until smooth. In separate bowls, toss carrots with half of the dressing, and toss beets with remaining half. Divide carrot salad and beet salad among 6 plates, and garnish each plate with spinach leaves.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More vinegars in The Perfect Pantry:
Sherry vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Black vinegar
White wine vinegar

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Mmmm, I love rice wine vinegar... all kinds.

Ooooh, I love the sound of that salad... and I bet it's pretty! You would have to keep them seperate, though I wonder what color the salad would be if you combined them?

Very interesting. I have learned something new today. ;-) Thanks!


I have NO idea what your pantry looks like but I'm imagining that you have this gigantor house with a walk-in pantry the size of a giant swimming pool filled to the brim with all these things you blog about. Can I come shopping in your pantry?

I love rice vinegar. One of my things to do with it in the summer is just sliced cucumbers, rice vinegar, a bit of water, and a red onion, marinated in the fridge for an hour or so and then eaten with sea salt. Yum.

Love finding out about all the vinegars. I bought some black vinegar when you wrote about it, so I'm good so far with all the kinds you've mentioned. (A woman can never have too many vinegars, if you ask me.)

Here's a question for you. I read about "golden balsamic" on a blog, but when I asked for it at my favorite Italian grocery store, the bottle they gave me said "white balsamic vinegar." So are they the same thing?

Whenever I make my sushi, I don't bother to buy Japanese rice vinegar, I just made my own using apple cider vinegar and add sugar. It taste great :)

Lydia, your posts are so incredibly informative -- I love it! I had no idea there was a difference between rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar, and now I'm not sure what I have in my fridge, but I'm guessing it's the rice wine variety. How cool -- thanks for the lesson!

I'm so with Kalyn on this one. That's got to be one of my favorite dinners in the whole world, especially when served over some chilled soba and with a hint of sesame oil. oh my god. I'm so hungry for lunch now! Thanks Lydia!

Peabody, me too. Rice vinegar is so fresh tasting.

Katie, it's a gorgeous salad, and a nice way to use raw beets. Together? Maybe they'd make fuschia!

Paz, thanks for stopping by.

Steamy, I'm giggling! Of course you can come visit the pantry, but only if you bring things to add to it.

Kalyn, that fresh cucumber salad -- or is it really a pickle? -- sounds delightful. About the "golden balsamic" vs. "white balsamic" -- from what I'm reading, it seems they are the same -- and not a true balsamic, but rather a blend of white wine vinegar and vinegar must that has not been caramelized, which accounts for the golden color. The organic brands, like Spectrum, seem to use the term "golden" -- perhaps thinking it implies something more organic? I'll keep researching.

Ninja, that's a great substitution.

Genie, thanks so much. Now if I only had some of your tomatoes to drizzle with this vinegar....

Ann, okay, now I'm craving soba with cucumber salad. Such a wonderful combination.

I have never tried this kind of vinegar before and your informations just helped me know more about it. Thank you very much Lydia for your blog. I can't wait to hear more about all kind of vinegars.

I love rice vinegar too, it's nice as a seasoning vinegar as well, not too sharp. Although I like sharp too!

Lydia, you are always teaching me new things! I never knew they were both the same thing. This salad recipe looks great.

You are setting me straight. I don't think i realized that there was rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar I think mentally i threw them together- as well as mirin. The recipe looks great and i would have never thought to treat beets this way. Asiafied

thanks once again for a great post - As a Japanese, I use this vinegar all the time, especially for when making sushi-meshi (sushi rice).

Rose, this is one of my favorite vinegars -- not too sharp, not too sweet. I hope you'll try it!

Kelly-Jane, I really do use this one a lot. But then again, I use most of my vinegars a lot....

Nora, thank you so much. The salad is a great summer lunch dish, with a bit of crusty bread.

Callipygia, most of the time I cook beets -- my husband likes them roasted in orange juice and maple syrup (it's the Canadian thing) -- but this salad uses raw beets, which are such a treat. And it's a good pairing with the vinegar. I hope you like it!

Tamami, I always use this vinegar with a bit of sugar, or the seasoned rice vinegar that has sugar in it, when I make maki rolls.

I use this vinegar quite alot, but don't really know a lot about them. Lydia, thanks for the lovely info!

Thank you for laying that all out beautifully. And the recipe is wonderful!!!

The only times I've used rice vinegar was when I made sushis & to marinate the cucumbers to be used in them as well.
It's great having you to share all this information about those precious ingredients with us Lydia, thanks heaps!!!

oh! good to know!

so, in your opinion, say you had a VERY small kitchen and could only stock 3 bottles of vinegar. what 3 would you recommend?

the head swims with so many vinegars. This one is the one I cheat with most often, and substitute with cider vinegar. horrified gasp.

Anh, I'm still learning, too!

Sher, this is a truly beautiful summer recipe. I'm someone who likes carrots and beets raw, but not cooked. Go figure....

Valentina, vinegar is a wonderful way to add flavor without adding fat to a lot of dishes. I can't cook without it.

Connie, tough question. Balsamic (the Rubio I buy in the North End is terrific -- it seems expensive, but it's good enough to be a condiment all on its own). Rice vinegar, which can be seasoned with sugar or sake for making sushi. Red wine or sherry vinegar, for salad dressing. Those would be the three, I think.

Lobster, I'm just about to make gazpacho with a splash of balsamic, but I've also done it with rice vinegar. And now I can hear you gasping at me! Of course Spanish sherry vinegar is one of my favorites. Oh, I guess they are all favorites....

I don't think I've ever commented before but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy all of your information.

I like to use rice vinegar in my salad dressings now, it is so mild. I have rice vinegar, balsamic, and cider (since to me, it still is the best for things like cole slaw).

Keep up the great work!

Yes, it is somewhat confusing, but you did a great job elucidating it for us. Thanks, Lydia!

Brenda, thank you so much. I think you'll like tomorrow's post (oops, am I giving too much away?).

Susan, thanks!

Confusing...that's why I just have one. ;p

Tigerfish, I agree. I'm just the opposite, though. I can't seem to choose just one!

First of all, I love how the bottle is pictured half empty :)

It reminds me of when I found a bottle of half used rice vinegar in our pantry (while looking for white vinegar) and decided to use it up for a cucumber salad. The usual recipe calls for white, but we felt experimental.

Let me tell you, we learned our lesson, because the cucumbers came out more soggy than crisp. Why do you think that is?

This is my favorite vinegar to use specially when I make Asian food. Adds so much dimension to the dish.

Hillary, I photograph the actual items in my pantry, so sometimes they are quite well used! As to your cucumber question...different levels of acidity in the vinegar, maybe? It's fun to experiment, no matter what the outcome!

Veron, I love rice vinegar in Asian food, too, and in French potato salad (the kind without mayo).

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