An Ultimate Guide to Chinese Cooking Wine

Chinese cooking wine, called “liaojiu” in Chinese, is made of yellow wine and many other spices like Chinese cinnamon and nutmegs. Its alcohol content is below 15% and rich in amino acids. The effect of cooking wine is to remove or mask the fishy smell and greasiness of meat, fish and sea food. Cooking wine can also increase the tasty smell of food. It’s a kind of seasoning, not beverage. Cooking wine is produced throughout China, but the most famous one is Shaoxing cooking wine made of Shaoxing yellow wine.

Theoretically, beer, white liquor, and whiskey can also be used as cooking wine. However, after long-term practice and tasting, people found that the flavors of foods cooked with different cooking wines are far apart. And the food seasoned with yellow wine-based Chinese cooking wine has the best flavor.


Nutritive Value and Health Benefits

Chinese cooking wine is rich in eight amino acids required by the human body, such as leucine, isoleucine, methionine, phenylalanine, and threonine. Among them, lysine and tryptophan can produce neurotransmitters in the brain, which improve sleep quality and is also beneficial to children’s physical development.

Why use Chinese cooking wine in cooking?

The main function of Chinese cooking wine is removing fishy smell and greasiness of food like meat and fish. The substance with fishy smell is dissolved in hot alcohol in cooking wine and taken away as the alcohol evaporates.

The cooking wine also contains a variety amino acid, which make the dishes have a rich aromatic flavor.


How to Use Chinese Cooking Wine

Soak ingredients before cooking

One can soak fresh fish, sea food and other meat in cooking wine before cooking to promote the dissolution of fishy smell substances, and let them evaporate with ethanol during cooking. This is usually used for steaming and brewing dishes.

Add it during cooking

During cooking, the time to add the cooking wine depends on the cooking methods and materials. The substance with fishy smell can be dissolved by the ethanol in cooking wine and volatilized together under high temperature. When stir-fry meat, it should be added after the meat color changes; if the dish is first stir-fried and then braised, it should be added before brasing; when cooking soup, add it before turning to low heat; when stir-frying shrimps, add cooking wine just before taking them out of the wok.

It is not advised to put too much cooking wine when cooking dishes, otherwise the taste of the wine will mask the taste of the food itself.

What’s the difference between Chinese cooking wine and yellow wine?

1. The biggest difference between Chinese cooking wine and yellow wine is that yellow wine is a kind of beverage drink, while cooking wine is a flavoring for cooking.

2. Cooking wine is developed on the basis of yellow wine. It uses 30% to 50% of yellow wine as raw material, and then adds many aromatic spices such as minced meat, cinnamon and anise.

3. Yellow wine can also be used as a seasoning but it is not as effective as cooking wine. Compared with yellow wine, the cooking wine make dishes more delicious. Cooking wine can only be used when cooking; it cannot be drunk as beverage.

4. The price of cooking wine is much cheaper.

 Read more:
10 Best Chinese Cooking Wines

Shaoxing Wine vs Mirin: Which is better for cooking?

Chinese Seasonings

- Last updated on Sep. 02, 2019 -
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