Shaoxing Wine, or Chinese cooking wine, has a distinct flavor that lends Chinese dishes their characteristic flavor.
Shaoxing wine is a variety of fermented red yeast rice wine. Aged for 10 years, it has a potent flavor and an alcoholic content of 16-20%. A little bit of Shaoxing wine can add depth and a unique savory flavor to any dish. It has a vinegary, spicy, and salty flavor and is commonly used to cook soups, broths, stir fry dishes, noodle recipes, wontons, and spring rolls.
You can usually buy Shaoxing wine in Asian groceries, or you can order it online. But if you cannot find any, here are some of the best Shaoxing wine substitutes that can lend that unmistakable complex Chinese flavor to your dishes.
· Pale Dry Sherry
Pale Dry Sherry is the most similar to Shaoxing wine in terms of flavor. Although pale dry sherry is a little sweeter, it gives dishes the same savory flavor. Aside from being cheaper, pale dry sherry is also versatile for cooking. It has a nutty flavor that can add nuance to any dish.
· Sake Rice Wine
Sake, the Japanese version of rice wine, can also be a decent substitute Shaoxing wine. It is sweeter and smoother, however, which is why you may need to add a little bit more salt to your dish to achieve your desired flavor. It also lacks the crispiness of Shaoxing wine, giving your dishes a milder taste. If it is easier to get Sake in Asian groceries, you can use it for your Chinese dishes as it has the same subtle and textured Asian flavor.
Another Japanese rice wine, Mirin is sweeter and has a lower alcohol content than Sake. You can use Mirin as another substitute for Shaoxing wine when marinating meat and fish. However, you may need to add more salt to your dishes to offset its sweetness.
Also, it should be noted that these two wines have the opposite effect on meat texture. Shaoxing wine typically makes meat more tender while Mirin makes it firmer.