What is the Best Rice Vinegar Substitute for Sushi, Top 5 Great Alternatives

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By Ashley Woodward • Last Updated: February 16, 2023

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What is the Best Rice Vinegar Substitute for Sushi

Hello, Fellas! Do you love sushi? But you cannot revel this delicacy due to rice vinegar scarcity? Find out what is the best rice vinegar substitute for sushi in this brand new post.

First, let’s see what is rice vinegar and why is it so important when it comes to a perfect sushi. Understandably enough, it is a vinegar made from fermented rice or rice wine – hence, the name.

For long, it has been used in Asian cuisines, such as sushi – known as Komezu, the Japanese Rice Vinegar and a staple in sushi rice making.

Why Rice Vinegar?

rice wine vinegar

Rice vinegar has further three types: white, black and red. The white rice vinegar has a very strong acidic flavor; it is an intense tart flavor with a whiff of sweetness at times.

As for the black and red rice vinegar, they have a mild flavor. Likewise, Chinese rice vinegar is punchier than the subtly-flavored Japanese rice vinegar.

Irrespective of which rice vinegar we use, due to its acidic property, it is perfect to stabilize the raw, fishy tang of all the uncooked seafood put on it.

Even though mild, rice vinegar has a very unique taste to it, which in combination with the sushi rice complements the authenticity of its taste.

It helps in bringing out more freshness from the seafood while balancing the flavors perfectly. Sushi would not be sushi without this rice vinegar!

Top 5 Great Alternatives

Did you run out of rice vinegar? Or are you just allergic to it? Whatever is the reason behind your endeavour to find a rice vinegar substitute, here is a list of few of the best alternatives you can opt for.

Before we unleash the substitutes before you, be clear that we are considering rice vinegar here and not the seasoned rice vinegar. Seasoned rice vinegar has salt and sugar added to it – therefore, if you use seasoned rice vinegar in making sushi, you need not season it separately.

sushi vinegar subsitutes

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

We have seen how rice vinegar used for sushi has a subtle taste. Apple cider vinegar is just another vinegar in the market which is gentle. Therefore, it can be a close substitute to rice vinegar. Evidently enough, it is made from fermentation of apple cider but does not have an overpowering apple flavor.

You can use the exact amount of apple cider vinegar as the sushi recipe you are followings says about the amount of rice vinegar. However, to get that perfect rice vinegar sweetness, you can simply add ¼ teaspoon of sugar per one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

2. White Vinegar

White vinegar is the normal vinegar we use and probably have in our stores at all times. It has a very pungent, acidic flavor, stronger than the rice vinegar but it can be used in its place.

All you have to do is dilute the white vinegar before you use it in place of the rice vinegar. If a recipe calls for one tablespoon of rice vinegar, add ¼ tablespoon of water to ¾ tablespoon of white vinegar.

3. White Wine Vinegar

As the name suggests, white wine vinegar is a result of white wine fermentation into vinegar. This vinegar too has a soft acidic hint, not too overpowering but lacks the sweetness rice vinegar has.

Therefore, you can go ahead and add ¼ teaspoon of sugar to one tablespoon of white wine vinegar. Also, if the recipe says one tablespoon of rice vinegar, you can use one tablespoon of the white wine vinegar along with the said amount of sugar.

4. Champagne Vinegar

Ferment champagne and you will get champagne vinegar! It is one of the milder vinegars and has a very subtle hint of acidity. Since it’s made out of champagne, you can expect it to have a considerable degree of sweetness as well.

Hence, it can be termed as one of the closer substitutes to rice vinegar. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio in any sushi recipe – if the recipe asks you to add 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar, you can add 3 tablespoons of champagne vinegar instead.

5.  Sushi Vinegar Instant Powder

If you have got no rice vinegar, instant powder sushi vinegar might work best in place of it. It helps imitate almost the exact flavor which you would get by using the rice vinegar. They are easily available and pocket friendly at the same time.

To aid you further, look up “tamanoki sushinoko” which is one of the most basic brands providing the sushi vinegar instant powder.

How to Add Rice Vinegar in Sushi?

add sushi vinegar

All this time the rice vinegar has been the hero of our discussion. Why so? Well, we have already mentioned how rice vinegar is what makes sushi rice like they are – otherwise, they would just be ordinary rice!

But how do you exactly get the sushi rice with addition of rice vinegar? Here is a video from the Master Sushi Chef himself – Hiroyuki Terada! He uses seaweed for extra seasoning.

It is optional and you might skip it – just like you can additionally add sweet sake for more flavor and seasoning.

  1. First up, you prepare your rice. And here, we will be considering 16 oz. of uncooked sushi rice.
    • Ensure you are not using any metallic or steel utensil otherwise it might react with the rice vinegar later. Therefore, use a wooden spoon to stir and a plastic or wooden bowl to cool off the rice.
  2. For the sushi rice vinegar, you need:
    • 250cc rice vinegar
    • 10 oz. of sugar
    • 1 oz. salt
    • 3” by 2” seaweed sheet (dried kelp)
  3. Mix the first three ingredients in a plastic container and add the sheets. Put it in the refrigerator until the sugar and the sheets dissolve. It will then be ready to use!
  4. For the said quantity of rice, you will be needing 4 oz. of the prepare rice vinegar mixture.
  5. Mix the sushi vinegar well with the cooked rice and there, you have perfectly seasoned sushi rice!

So, What is the Best Among All?

One major reason why rice vinegar is specifically used for sushi is its acidic nature. Even though most substitutes can imitate that acidity, many might lack the sweetness. Rice vinegar has a very distinctive taste which you might not get from any other vinegar. Therefore, if you are looking to cook perfect sushi rice, there might not be a best substitute to get that perfect taste.

However, the sushi vinegar instant powder might be the nearest alternative you can use. But then again, it depends on your taste as well – any of the above vinegar might work best for you considering how you manipulate their quantities in the recipe!

Happy sushi-ing!

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