If my Irishman hadn’t bought 2 bottles of cooking sake, it’s not an ingredient I would normally have in the house. There are plenty of cooking sake substitutes, that make it hard to justify extra space in your pantry.
Especially if you only cook Japanese food occasionally.
Here are my favourite substitutes…
Best Cooking Sake Substitutes
(in order of preference)
1. Shao Xing Cooking Wine
The closest match is Chinese Rice Wine also called Shao Xing Cooking Wine. At the risk of over simplifying, this is essentially the Chinese version of Japanese sake.
If you were planning to sit down and drink a glass on it’s own, there are marked differences. Most noticeably that Shao Xing contains salt (presumably to stop people drinking it from the bottle).
But once used in cooking, especially in small quantities it’s practically impossible to tell them apart.
2. Dry Sherry
Sherry is made from grapes, not rice. However the flavour profile of sherry is similar enough to sake to make it an excellent substitute.
If you only have sweet sherry in the house, it could be used. But will contribute some sweet flavours which may or may not be a good thing.
3. White Wine
Any white will work as a cooking sake substitute. But given sake has an alcohol content around 14.5%, bigger more alcoholic wines like Chardonnay will give the closest match.
While it won’t provide any of the flavour or mild acidity that you get from sake, water is a liquid. And sake is a liquid so at least water will substitute that function. If you need to keep your dish alcohol-free, water would be my go-to.
If you make your own kombucha and happen to have a bottle floating around (like I do), it adds a similar acidity. Although you won’t get the alcohol.
Commercial kombuchas tend to be sweeter so be careful with those. Don’t use komuchcha with strong fruity flavours that may clash with your delicate Japanese dish.
Whats the difference between Cooking Sake and Sake?
As far as I know cooking sake and sake are the same thing… Alcoholic beverages made from fermented rice.
More Ingredient Substitutes
- The Ultimate Guide to Vegetable Substitutes
- Collard Greens
- Miso Paste
- Oyster Sauce
Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.
Have fun in the kitchen!
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