Sushi has always been an incredibly popular, but expensive treat.
So, when virtually all of its ingredients and tools became available to the general public, people immediately jumped on the opportunity! Finally, sushi at a more affordable price.
Unfortunately, what people didn’t have access to is how to make sushi properly. Only after more in-depth research by some did it become more “general knowledge” that the rice isn’t just basmati, but actually a special vinegared sushi rice.
So, what are the best rice vinegars for sushi? Regardless of the brand, you should choose a white rice vinegar that doesn’t contain any additives. Always make sure to read the label so that you can ensure you get the best product for your needs.
In this article, we will explore exactly what rice vinegar is, why you should use it for making sushi, and an in-depth buyer’s guide.
Then, we will look at the best rice vinegars online to make it easy to find and choose one that works for you!
What Is Sushi Rice?
Sushi rice is a term that refers to two concepts. The first is the type of rice that is used to make sushi, and the other is a type of rice granule.
Pretty much both directly have to do with sushi, but the terms are still used in different ways. Ultimately, sushi rice is made using sushi rice.
So, when looking at the rice granule we are talking about, sushi rice refers to a special Japanese-style short-grain rice. This is an incredibly sticky rice with a plump and firm texture.
These characteristics make it perfect for making sushi rice because it will stick together, making it easy to roll. In turn, this feature allows sushi-makers to shape the rice however they’d like.
Now, when making sushi rice, there are more steps involved than simply cooking the sushi rice grain varietal. You have to make it using vinegar. More specifically, sushi rice is made with rice vinegar.
This type of vinegar is incredibly sweet and has a semi-delicate flavor. Sure, it is still acidic, but not nearly to the level that white spirit vinegar is.
So, these flavors, combined with the unique texture of sushi rice, create the best combination of qualities for sushi rice.
The slightly sweet and sour rice will give the sushi roll a pretty neutral background so that other flavors can shine through.
Yet, it also helps add flavoring that will enhance the profile of the entire bite (similar to how salt works).
If you’re excited to make your own homemade sushi but don’t know where to start when it comes to preparing the sushi rice, take a look at the tutorial below from Cooking with Eddie Tseng on YouTube.
The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide For Rice Vinegar (For Sushi)
So, now that you have a better idea of what sushi rice is, let’s take a look at how to choose the best rice vinegar for it.
This is the most important thing to look for when it comes to choosing a rice vinegar for sushi. Authentic rice vinegar will provide you with the best flavor. If you choose a cheaper product, it may result in strange and even off-flavors.
Real rice vinegar should only contain water, rice, and bacterial cultures. These together will help ferment the rice and create vinegar.
Cheap options can include sugar, salt, MSG (flavor enhancers), alcohol, and other types of vinegar. Now, we are not saying that these won’t work, but if you are looking for authentic sushi made with real rice vinegar, look at the ingredients list!
Keep in mind, that most rice vinegars these days are diluted with water. This is usually represented by a percentage. This dilution makes the vinegar usable and doesn’t necessarily lower the quality.
Rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are not the same product. Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice granules. Rice wine vinegar on the other hand is made from fermented rice wine.
These two products give very different results. They mainly differ in their sweetness and acidity levels. For traditional sushi rice, you should use rice vinegar (not rice wine vinegar).
Rice Vinegar Varietal
There are 3 common types of rice vinegar available – white, black, and red. White rice vinegars are the sweetest and have the mildest acidity levels of the options. This is likely why you have only seen white rice vinegar in Western countries.
Red rice vinegar has a very tart flavor and is more acidic than white rice vinegar. Black rice vinegar has the strongest and has a definitive bitter flavor.
White rice vinegar is the most commonly used type, however, some places experiment to create unique flavor combinations.
You have to choose the type that is most suited to your liking. But, what will probably be the determining factor is what you can find available. Shopping online for some of these options will be the easiest.
Now, naturally, you don’t want to buy the most expensive product when you are just starting. And luckily, you don’t have to. You get loads of “cheap” authentic rice vinegars out there.
You also don’t want to spend lots of money on vinegar if you will be using it daily (for various recipes). Then, rather buy a cheaper option that doesn’t break the piggy bank.
Best Rice Vinegars For Sushi
So, if you feel like you have narrowed down your choices with our above-mentioned guideline, let’s have a look at some of our favorite rice vinegar options that can all be found online.
|1.||Marukan Genuine Brewed White Rice Vinegar||Authentic, organic, non-GMO|
|2.||Kikkoman White Rice Vinegar||Well-balanced flavors, easily accessible|
|3.||Whole Foods Market Organic White Rice Vinegar||Very flavorful, easily accessible|
|4.||Kakuida Red Yeast Rice Black Vinegar||Unique flavor combinations, black rice vinegar|
|5.||Marukan Seasoned Rice Vinegar||Sweetened with sugar, sweet and tangy flavor profile|
|6.||Best Of Thailand Rice Vinegar||Affordable and authentic|
|7.||Wan Ja Shan Organic Rice Vinegar||Organic, non-GMO, flavorful|
1. Marukan Genuine Brewed White Rice Vinegar
We start our list with one of the best white rice vinegars out there. This product is made without any additives.
It is made with real rice vinegar that has been diluted with water to have about 4.3% acidity.
This vinegar is also great for other reasons. It has been verified as being made from non-GMO rice that is completely organically made.
It is also a completely vegan product, is kosher certified, gluten-free, kosher, and allergy-free.
Now, you may be thinking that it is obvious. But as we have mentioned, many rice vinegars have a ton of additives. These verification stamps mean that this product is as pure as it can be!
2. Kikkoman White Rice Vinegar
Kikkoman is one of the leading manufacturers of Asian products, especially in Western countries.
So, it comes as no surprise that their rice vinegar is on par with traditionally made products.
Not only is it affordable, but it is fantastic qualities. It is easy to find in both stores and online.
And, it has a well-balanced flavor that will suit most people. If you are just beginning making sushi rice, we highly recommend this product.
3. Whole Foods Market Organic White Rice Vinegar
Now, moving on to a product that is equally easy to find, we have this organic rice vinegar by Whole Foods Market.
The biggest downside is that for some reason, despite being made in the USA, it is much more expensive. Even though the bottle is slightly bigger, the price difference doesn’t make sense to us.
Nevertheless, it has been made with only organic rice and is diluted to 4.2%. It also has a slightly more acidic flavor than many other rice vinegars and is highly flavorful.
4. Kakuida Red Yeast Rice Black Vinegar
This is an amazing black rice vinegar option that is potentially even the easiest to find.
It has been made with organic brown rice and red yeast rice. Even though it has been diluted, it still has an extremely acidic.
While traditionally you wouldn’t use black vinegar for sushi rice, it is still possible.
And, if you can afford it, we would even recommend experimenting with flavors.
5. Marukan Seasoned Rice Vinegar
While this rice vinegar has been seasoned, it is only with a little bit of sugar. This is an altered product and not authentic, but for beginners, it is a great starting option.
It has a well-balanced sweet and tangy flavor that makes it easy to pair with all sushi types.
But, unfortunately, it is on the pricier side. If you don’t want to pay it, you can always try making your own sweetened vinegar.
6. Best Of Thailand Gourmet Rice Vinegar
If you are looking to get some bang out for your buck, then we highly recommend this option.
While it is still authentic and only contains rice, ferment, and water, it is incredibly affordable and is sold in larger quantities.
They also have a seasoned option for those who like the sweeter rice vinegars.
And, what makes it appealing as well is that it is made from non-GMO rice and is completely free of allergens and sugars.
7. Wan Ja Shan Organic Rice Vinegar
Last, but not least, we have another great authentic unflavored rice vinegar.
Despite its hefty price, it is one of the most flavorful options out there according to many professional sushi makers.
And, it has a bunch of certifications and verifications that can help you rest assured it delivers on its promises.
It is made from non-GMO ingredients that are completely organic. And, it is free of additives including sugar and salt. It has a 4.5% acidity and is great for all sushi types.