The three main types of rice vinegar (mi cù, 米醋) used in Chinese cooking are white rice vinegar, black rice vinegar (or Chinkiang Vinegar), and red rice vinegar.
In this article, we’ll be focusing on Chinese red vinegar.
(For more info on the other two types, check out their individual articles: White Rice Vinegar & Chinese Black Vinegar.)
What Is Chinese Red Rice Vinegar?
Chinese red vinegar (dà hóng zhè cù, 大红浙醋) is made from red yeast rice (hóng qū mǐ, 红曲米), a type of fermented rice that gets its bright red/purple color from being cultivated with monascus purpureus mold.
Red vinegar is mild, with about half the acidity (2.47%) of your everyday distilled white vinegar (5%). The Koon Chun brand of red vinegar has a distinctly wine-like taste.
How Is It Used?
Red vinegar is probably the least used type of rice vinegar in Chinese cuisine. However, it does have some very specific uses.
The vinegar is often served in Cantonese restaurants as a garnish for seafood soups. It is also used in dishes like Chinese Fried Pigeon for flavoring and to help the skin crisp during frying.
Buying & Storing
Look for red vinegar near the other rice vinegars in your local Chinese grocery store (usually the same aisle as the soy sauce). You may also be able to purchase it online, though it will be significantly more expensive. Store in a cool, dry place, like your pantry.
Substitutions for Red Vinegar
If you can’t find red rice vinegar, you can substitute white rice vinegar/rice wine vinegar, which is usually more readily available, even in regular supermarkets.
Our Favorite Dishes That Use This Ingredient:
If you have further questions about red rice vinegar, let us know in the comments––we try to answer every single one.