By Request

By Catherine Kekoa Enomoto

Wednesday, October 15, 1997

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Chinatown's See Cheong Hawaii market suggests Gold Plum
Chinkiang black vinegar, right, for dipping sauces and salad
dressing. Koon Chun brand, left, is unsweetened; sweetened
Mee Chun brand, center, contains ginger.

Black vinegar
adds unique flavor

BLACK vinegar, like black pepper, has various incarnations, uses and interpretations. Oahu reader M. Domingo wants to know what to do with sweetened black Chinese rice vinegar made of vinegar, sugar, ginger, rice, orange peel and cloves.

Master chef Martin Yan says there are three varieties of Chinese rice vinegar -- black, red and white -- all less pungent and more flavorful than distilled white vinegar.

In "Martin Yan, the Chinese Chef" (Doubleday, 1985, $11), he writes, "White is used for sweet and sour dishes; red is used as a dipping sauce; black is used in braising and as a dipping sauce."

Isle TV chef/cookbook author Titus Chan says red vinegar is served as a dipping sauce for dim sum and noodles, and dresses salads. Black vinegar, he says, is for a traditional pig's feet soup prepared for new mothers.

Presumably the vinegar leeches calcium from the bony pork joints and provides a nutritious broth for nursing mothers.

Chef/author Ken Hom uses dark, sweetened vinegar in braised pork dishes. He prefers Pearl River brand from China.

Bay-area restaurateur/author Bruce Cost writes, "In Shanxi (region) near Beijing, chefs add vinegar to practically every dish; they even poach eggs in it." He recommends Gold Plum "Chinkiang," Tientsin or Narcissus "Yongchun Loagu" brands.

Pickled Pig's Feet Soup

(By June Tong, author of "Popo's Kitchen"
Chinese bicentennial cookbook)

1 pair pig's feet (each foot 8 to 10 inches long; see note)
2 bottles (21 ounces each) sweetened black vinegar (see note)
1 cup dark apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 pound whole fresh ginger, mashed
1/2 cup brown sugar or to taste, optional

Cut up pig's feet. Parboil pig's feet; then discard water and scrape hairs off meat.

Combine all ingredients except sugar. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Add sugar to taste, if needed. Cook 30 minutes more. Makes 6 servings.

Note: Can substitute beef tendons for pig's feet. Parboil tendons 1/2 hour and rinse clean; bring to a boil, lower heat and cook 2-1/2 hours.

Also, can substitute unsweetened black vinegar (in place of sweetened black vinegar) and add 2 cups brown sugar.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 420 calories, 13 grams total fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat, 70 milligrams cholesterol, 1,000 milligrams sodium. Per serving using unsweetened vinegar: 280 calories, 750 milligrams sodium.*

Choi Sum with Black Vinegar

(From "Bruce Cost's Asian Ingredients" by Bruce Cost,
William Morrow and Co., 1988)

2 pounds choi sum (flowering white cabbage)
1-1/2 tablespoons black vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 tablespoon finely slivered fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely slivered Smithfield ham

Cut off and discard the bottom 1 or 2 inches of the tough stems of choi sum, and cut remainder into 2-inch lengths. Set aside.

Mix vinegar, sugar, salt, wine and water.

Over high heat, heat a wok and add oil. When it is hot, add ginger and choi sum. Cook, stirring, until wilted. Add seasoned vinegar and stir briefly. Cover, reduce heat and steam briefly. Remove cover, turn heat to high, and cook, stirring, until most liquid has been absorbed, 2 minutes or so. Stir in ham and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 140 calories, 11 grams total fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 1 milligram cholesterol, 580 milligrams sodium.*

Sauteed Eggplant
with Black Vinegar

(From "Bruce Cost's Asian Ingredients")

1-1/4 pounds Asian eggplants
3 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup peanut oil
1 teaspoon crushed dried red chile pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions

Cut eggplants in half and then into wedges no more than 1/2-inch wide. Cut wedges into strips measuring 2-inches by 1/2-inch. Blend vinegar, sugar and salt; set aside.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. When hot, add eggplant and cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until lightly browned and thoroughly wilted. Add chile pepper and stir briefly. Add vinegar mixture and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Stir in scallions. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving, based on 6 servings: 140 calories, 12 grams total fat, 2 grams saturated fat, no cholesterol, 267 milligrams sodium.*

Note: Last week's analysis for Sauteed Opakapaka with Capers was published for fish with 2-1/2 ounces of sauce, instead of 2 tablespoons. The values per 1-ounce of sauce are: 190 calories, 21 grams total fat, 13 grams saturated fat, 55 milligrams cholesterol, 35 milligrams sodium.*

Send queries along with name and phone number to:
By Request, Honolulu Star-Bulletin Food Section,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Or send e-mail to

Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by Joannie Dobbs of
Exploring New Concepts, a nutritional consulting firm.

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