Saturday, February 20, 2010

Help! I *Didn't* Find Shaoxing Rice WIne

Yesterday morning, I celebrated my discovery at the H Mart of Shaoxing rice wine -- the one missing ingredient from Andrea Nguyen's Asian Dumplings cookbook.

Yesterday afternoon, Nguyen posted about Shaoxing and coincidentally pointed out that I bought the wrong item.  She recommends Pagoda brand rice wine and says "Whatever your price point, avoid Shaoxing 'Cooking Wine' which is salted and tastes awful."

One look in my pantry confirmed that I had bought cooking wine.  My prior pride in last week's pork and cabbage dumplings crashed down around me.  Inauthentic and salty!  The memory tastes like shame.

Help me!  Nguyen was very nice in emails saying that sherry can substitute for the Shaoxing rice wine.  But a few pulls on the bottle clearly got her tipsy and honest enough to blog that I do need Shaoxing for "an extra authentic boost."  I have all the ingredients for kimchi and tofu dumplings.  I want to be extra authentic!

Has anyone seen Pagoda brand rice wine?  (Photo from Nguyen's Web site.)  H Mart?  Lotte?  The Chinese supermarket on Rte 40?


Lisa said...

Aw geez, HowChow. Thanks for toppling my carefully-built tower of Chinese staples. Indeed, all our Shaoxing bottles are of cooking wine (I guess this is similar to gourmet cooks cautioning people not to buy the salty bottles "cooking wine" at the supermarkets, and to use real wine instead).

Just looked it up real quick -- you might have better luck at a liquor store that carries Chinese rice wines. Shao xing is evidently a variety of huang jiu (which means "yellow alcohol", or yellow rice wine in Chinese).

MaybeKathy said...

Maybe the new liquor store in St. John's Plaza (next to Solana's). They have a big sake selection.

Sheri said...

Hmmmm... I can check at Corridor's and Super Grande, if you like! Think I'll print out a copy of the image, tho!

Work in progress said...

I think you're going to have to head down to VA. I know that they carry alcohol in the Asian supermarkets there, unlike in MD. Next time I go down, I'll be on the lookout!

Unknown said...

I'd love to hear from anyone who can find Chinese wine in or near Howard County. My family is from DC and I took for granted that we always got our Chinese wine at Asian grocery stores. Now that I live in Maryland, where it seems wine and beer cannot be sold in grocery stores, I'm essentially going from liquor store to liquor store hoping it'll have more than just sake. Thanks, Howchow for sparking this discussion!

stupidbu said...

Hi Mr. HowChow,
You might want to try Japanese sake, one of the name brands is Gekkeikan, and you can find it in most local liquor stores. Japanese sake is basically rice wine, and it is a really good substitute for dishes that require unsalted rice wine. My wife always uses that to cook a traditional Chinese dish called "Sesame oil chicken" since we cannot find the rice wine made by the Taiwanese company we are looking for.
We haven't tried Shaoxing rice wine, I believe they have a different flavor in it, but if you really cannot find it, try Japanese sake.

Anonymous said...

Right, you'll never find the real deal at H-Mart, etc., because they don't have a liquor license, which would be required in Maryland.

policywonk said...

I searched using and found the wine at Brian's Wine & Liquor Emporium in Piscataway, NJ for $6.99 a bottle, plus tax and shipping.

However, the search function at the store's web site is in a dumb place (bottom center of the web page) and is stupid -- you have to input the name just so, or it won't come up. Use this exact phrase for your search term:

Pagoda Shao xing rice wine

Now you just have to hope that they're not out of it when you try to order it! But it's a beginning ...

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