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Dec 18, 2007 09:37 PM

Trying new recipes! Need help...

I am trying new Chinese recipes and they call for Chinese Cooking Wine. Do I have to buy this at a state store, or do ethnic or Chinese food stores stock it? Thank you for any info you may be able to impart.

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  1. You can get mirin, which is a Chinese cooking wine (to the best of my knowledge) at non-state stores. If you live in the Pgh area, I can give you a specific recommendation. I get mine at an Asian foods store.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mhoffman

      Strictly speaking, mirin is Japanese. It's basically sweet sake. To the best of my knowledge, there is no direct Chinese equivalent, but you can add a little sugar to Chinese shaoxing (rice wine).

      You can use a lttle sherry in place of mirin, or add a little sugar to sake or a not-too-sweet white wine. I keep a bottle of white vermouth (with pouring spout) in my kitchen at all times for cooking, then just reduce the amount of any kind of white wine called for in the recipe by about a third.

      1. re: Caroline1

        See, I *knew* that the best of my knowledge wasn't very good...

        1. re: mhoffman

          Well, at least you didn't think it was the Ukrainian version of vodka! '-)

    2. They are probably referring to some type of rice wine. Rather than buying "cooking wine" which is pretty vile just use a nice not too fruity white wine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: joluvscards

        I would second the recommendation to stay away from anything labeled 'cooking wine' (usually in the grocery stores). Especially when you can buy a nice drinking/cooking wine for under $10 (one cup in the recipe, the rest in the cook!)

        By the way, mirin is basically rice wine vinegar that has been sweetened. I use it fairly often in stir-fry's along with soy sauce, but it definitely not a substitute for cooking with wine.

      2. If you could tell us where you are, that would help. In the Philly area, most large supermarkets (Acme, Superfresh, etc.) have mirin either in the vinegar or "asian food" section. I agree that for wine, a dry sherry is the best substitute if you can't fine rice wine.

        1. If your local Asian food market carries Shao Hsing brand rice cooking wine, try it. From China, authentic and inexpensive. Otherwise I vote for a dry sherry.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Chefpaulo

            I'll second the Shao Hsing brand & dry sherry rec. I would also note that, depending on the recipe, a dry sake might also work.

            By the way, isn't mirin Japanese?

          2. Hello again...and thank you so much for your quick reply's. I have been watching Kylie Kwong, and her Chinese Cooking Wine is one of her staples for cooking. I know better than to use the so called 'cooking wines' in the supermarket. I live in Harleysville, Pa. Not an ethnic store within 30 miles. Just online. I have seen Mirin at the store, but that's Japanese. I think Kylie Kwong uses the Shao Hsing cooking wine. She also says if you can't find it, to use Sherry. I would just rather use what is recommended than a substitute when trying to do an original recipe. If I have this much trouble just finding the Cooking Wine, maybe I should try to cultivate more of an interest in Italian! Most of those ingrediants have gotten easier to find over the years. Thanks again for all of your help, and Happy Holidays.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Widget4

              Harleysville? Go to Assi in North Wales (1216 Welsh Rd). It's a large Asian grocery. They have a nice Chinese section and should definitely have Shaoxing. Check out their other sections too, especially the produce.

              Maybe people who are recommending mirin (a Japanese name, and it's much sweeter) are confusing it with mijiu (Mandarin Chinese name for rice wine)...?

              1. re: Dib

                Thanks for all the help Dib and Carole. My daughter is taking me to Assi on Saturday. I have been there once before, and completely forgot about it. How I could do that when they have live eels swimming around in tank I'll never know!! Thanks again. And thanks again to all of your comments and help. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

              2. re: Widget4

                I second Dib's suggestion. I did a quick Mapquest and Assi in North Wales is less than 10 miles from Harleysville. I drive further than that to get there and it's really worth it.

                1. re: Widget4

                  sorry, I misready the OP and thought you were asking for mirin too. It definitely isn't a substitute for Chinese cooking wine. I have a good friend from China who regularly uses sherry instead and his food is fantastic and authentic, so I wouldn't hesitate to use it.

                  1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                    FWIW, the new york times' Drunken Chicken recipe calls for 1.5 cups of Shaoxing wine, with the note that "If you cannot find Shaoxing wine, it may be substituted with 3/4 cup sherry and 3/4 cup cold chicken broth"
                    I've not yet tried the recipe either way.