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I'm going through one of Kylie Kwong's cookbooks, and it seems like she uses malt vinegar in almost every recipe. Is malt vinegar really that common of a chinese cooking ingredient, or is this just one of Kwong's personal idiosyncratic touches? I don't want to buy a bottle of malt vinegar, only to find out that I won't use it for anything else?

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I just peeked at my Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking and there's no mention of Malt Vinegar at all, just different kinds of rice (and grain) vinegars. But then, if you have several of her books and she uses it very often, I'd just get a bottle, maybe even compare. And you can use it for other things too of course, it's nice vinegar. Can't have fish and chips without it :-)

Does she explain her pantry items in the book? Maybe it's a more readily available substitute for something less available. Seems she's from Australia?

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Cruising through a number of her recipes it appears she uses it as her default vinegar for pickle, chutney, relish dishes and dressings. In my experience it is her personal preference and seems to show up more in her "fusion" (I know - cringe word) dishes. It is cheap, and I like it in general.

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Cruising through a number of her recipes it appears she uses it as her default vinegar for pickle, chutney, relish dishes and dressings. In my experience it is her personal preference and seems to show up more in her "fusion" (I know - cringe word) dishes. It is cheap, and I like it in general.

What would be a good Chinese vinegar substitute for malt vinegar? Rice wine vinegar?

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It's probably called for because it's easily available and in general, a household in Australia or the UK would probably already have that on hand.

In her series where she travelled around China cooking in various places, she used Chinese Black Vinegar in everything - again, availability.

And, if she's sneaky like me, she changes the vinegar (or whatever other ingredient) in her recipes so that the dish is still good, just not as good as it is if she makes it :smile:

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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Malt vinegar is way too strong for most of the "real" Chinese food, at least as far as food in China/Hong Kong are concerned. I as a first generation ethnic Chinese migrant, would like to think it reflects Kylie Kwong's Westernized tastes as a 4th generation Chinese-Australian. Basically, it is an Anglo type of product that is widely available in Britain and Australia and NZ.

I would substitute malt vinegar with any Chinese vinegar you prefer. For the strongest taste to what Kylie intended, use white rice vinegar (which is very strong in Chinese tastes, but still a bit mild compared with Western distilled vinegar. I remember years ago I read from Wiki that 4 tablespoons of Chinese red rice vinegar = 3 tabelspoons of distilled white vinegar in taste)

Edited by johung (log)
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Why is it that malt vinegar goes so well with seafood?

It doesn't seem to be that popular here in the states. I see it in every grocery store, but most people I know (of every different race) have some type of chinese or SE Asian vinegar in their kitchen rather than the malt stuff. That, or something like a cider vinegar.

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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Why is it that malt vinegar goes so well with seafood?

It doesn't seem to be that popular here in the states. I see it in every grocery store, but most people I know (of every different race) have some type of chinese or SE Asian vinegar in their kitchen rather than the malt stuff. That, or something like a cider vinegar.

Even in New Zealand and Australia malt vinegar is fast disappearing from people's homes. I haven't seen any recipes newer than 20 years old which call for its use, and the only people who use it are the over-70s. Most other people are using some kind of wine vinegar in 2009 New Zealand for most dishes.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Kylie Kwongs cooking is not Chinese. I am a Chinese and I have never heard of malt vinegar. I watched some of Kylies shows, what she used in the show is something looks like a dark vinegar, a famous produce of the Shanxi Province.

Edited by CNLink (log)
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