Chinkiang Vinegar as a Soy Sauce Substitute

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The Late Night Gourmet

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I came upon this one by accident years ago. I saw this bottle for Chinkiang vinegar, I didn't know what it was, so I decided to try it. I found that the smoky flavor - imparted by the black garlic used to make the vinegar - imparts characteristics that I found similar to soy sauce. A check for the nutritional content vs soy sauce is startling: only 155 mg in a tablespoon vs. 1006 mg in regular soy sauce and 531 mg in reduced sodium soy sauce.

Nutritional benefits are important, but does it work as a substitute? I’ve found that I can do without the soy sauce entirely in recipes with robust flavors, like Hot & Sour Soup. For pork fried rice and chicken fried rice, I add only a tablespoon of reduced sodium soy sauce to a 4.5 lb batch, with the rest of the flavor coming from the Chinkiang vinegar.
 

CraigC

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We'll have to check that out. My wife has issues with soy sauce, but not with Tamari which we use as a sub. We are trying a new recipe for poke that calls for golden tamari or white nama shoyu. We couldn't find it at any of the numerous, local Asian markets, so my wife ordered it on line.
 

GotGarlic

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I came upon this one by accident years ago. I saw this bottle for Chinkiang vinegar, I didn't know what it was, so I decided to try it. I found that the smoky flavor - imparted by the black garlic used to make the vinegar - imparts characteristics that I found similar to soy sauce. A check for the nutritional content vs soy sauce is startling: only 155 mg in a tablespoon vs. 1006 mg in regular soy sauce and 531 mg in reduced sodium soy sauce.

Nutritional benefits are important, but does it work as a substitute? I’ve found that I can do without the soy sauce entirely in recipes with robust flavors, like Hot & Sour Soup. For pork fried rice and chicken fried rice, I add only a tablespoon of reduced sodium soy sauce to a 4.5 lb batch, with the rest of the flavor coming from the Chinkiang vinegar.

Hi and welcome to Discuss Cooking :)

From a brief search, it looks like that's the same thing as Chinese black vinegar. I have some; I guess I can see how it could be substituted for soy sauce, although I don't think the flavor is quite the same. If people are on a low-sodium diet, it might be a good substitute. I'm not so restricted, though, and I don't eat soy sauce every day, so I use that, usually with some oyster sauce, when I make Chinese or other Asian food.
 

CraigC

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Hi and welcome to Discuss Cooking :)

From a brief search, it looks like that's the same thing as Chinese black vinegar. I have some; I guess I can see how it could be substituted for soy sauce, although I don't think the flavor is quite the same. If people are on a low-sodium diet, it might be a good substitute. I'm not so restricted, though, and I don't eat soy sauce every day, so I use that, usually with some oyster sauce, when I make Chinese or other Asian food.

Kewl GG, we have black vinegar! I really wish the local Asian markets were more forth coming for "non speakers", as there are so many things we want to try, but have no clue what they are.:(
 

jennyema

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They don't taste anything alike, though.

I've been using Chinkiang vinegar a lot lately as I cook my way through Fuchia Dunlop's books. I don't see it as a sub for soy sauce.

Also, I don't think it's made with black garlic.
 
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larry_stewart

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They don't taste anything alike, though.

I agree, One is salty, the other almost like a spiced tangy-ness.

I think substituting will keep the Asian flavor, but change the dish significantly.
The Chinkiang Vinegar ( like other vinegars) could also be overpowering, so if substituting , start with less ( than called for the soy sauce) , then adjust by taste.

I only use it for hot and sour soup, as I thought ( and was told) that it was the secret ingredient that makes homemade hot and sour soup taste like the real thing. Tastes good, but still not the taste I've been searching for for literally 25 years.
 

The Late Night Gourmet

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Thanks for all the comments.

@Jenny: you're right, of course: I don't know why I wrote "black garlic" when I meant "black rice"
@Larry: you probably sum it up best when you say "I think substituting will keep the Asian flavor, but change the dish significantly". That's a compromise I've come to accept when I make a substitution. If it still tastes good, I'm happy.
 

Mad Cook

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I came upon this one by accident years ago. I saw this bottle for Chinkiang vinegar, I didn't know what it was, so I decided to try it. I found that the smoky flavor - imparted by the black garlic used to make the vinegar - imparts characteristics that I found similar to soy sauce. A check for the nutritional content vs soy sauce is startling: only 155 mg in a tablespoon vs. 1006 mg in regular soy sauce and 531 mg in reduced sodium soy sauce.

Nutritional benefits are important, but does it work as a substitute? I’ve found that I can do without the soy sauce entirely in recipes with robust flavors, like Hot & Sour Soup. For pork fried rice and chicken fried rice, I add only a tablespoon of reduced sodium soy sauce to a 4.5 lb batch, with the rest of the flavor coming from the Chinkiang vinegar.
Just wondering - If I'm corect in thinking it's basically a flavour enhancer, do you use enough of it for the nutritional content to matter? (Unless it's the salt content you're worried about?)
 
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buckytom

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I only use it for hot and sour soup, as I thought ( and was told) that it was the secret ingredient that makes homemade hot and sour soup taste like the real thing. Tastes good, but still not the taste I've been searching for for literally 25 years.

I'm curious, what is that taste you've been chasing? Was it from a restaurant that no longer exists, or something like that?
 

The Late Night Gourmet

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Just wondering - If I'm corect in thinking it's basically a flavour enhancer, do you use enough of it for the nutritional content to matter? (Unless it's the salt content you're worried about?)

It's really just the sodium that I'm looking to lower here. The taste will be different, but it happens to be a taste I like. :)
 

larry_stewart

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I'm curious, what is that taste you've been chasing? Was it from a restaurant that no longer exists, or something like that?


Cant explain it.
The hard ingredients are easy, its the actual soup/ broth that Im going after.
Has to be vegetarian ( I've been to vegetarian and vegan restaurants that have a really good tasting soup, so I know its not animal based)
I have an arsenal of every condiment, paste, oil, sauce I could find at the local Asian grocer in my fridge which I have tried and failed.

It could be a specific brand that Im just not getting, but Ive been in multiple restaurants that had a soup similar in taste.

Ive encountered many varieties, most are pretty good, but there is one specific taste Im looking for, and will probably die having never have learned what that secret ingredient is.
 

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