Sake is Japanese rice wine. It is an alcoholic beverage produced by fermenting polished rice bran.
Sake has a slightly sweet flavor and contains higher alcohol content (ABV 15%-20%) than most wines.
While delicious to pair with meals, sake is a popular ingredient in cooking as well. You can use this alcoholic beverage in different recipes, marinades, sauces, and soups to add a subtle depth of flavor.
Sake may not always be available in your area. But some other popular ingredients can make up for sake substitutes.
Read on to learn about some amazing sake substitutes that you may try in your recipes.
Nutritional Benefits of Sake
Sake or rice wine is the national drink of Japan and possesses great value in their social life. It is transparent to yellowish and has a sweet to dry flavor.
This alcoholic beverage comes with tons of nutritional values. Sake is a great source of ferulic acid, an antioxidant that appears during the fermentation.
Sake is non-carbonated and gluten-free. A 100 g serving contains roughly 135 calories, 25 mg potassium, 2 mg sodium, 5 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, and 1% magnesium.
Here are some of the ingredients that you can use as substitutes for sake.
1. Sweet Sherry
Sweet sherry is an intensely sweet dark brown or black wine made from dry Pedro Ximénez (PX) or Moscatel grapes through a chamber-drying process.
You can use sweet sherry for culinary purposes and as an alternative to sake. It is good in those recipes that call for a little amount of sake, such as 1-2 tablespoons.
Using sweet sherry in your cooking will provide almost the same flavor as sake.
Mirin is another type of Japanese rice wine, with lower alcohol content (about 14%) than sake. It comes with a sweet flavor and is great for cooking.
Its sugar content is basically a complex carbohydrate that forms during the fermentation process.
Like sweet sherry, Mirin can also be a good substitute for sake where a little amount is required. You can use mirin to bring a delicious umami flavor in your recipe.
3. Chinese Shaoxing Wine
Chinese Shaoxing Wine is a type of Chinese rice wine. Like sake, it originates from the fermented rice.
This Chinese rice wine is quite delicious and healthy.
Shaoxing wine is a popular alcoholic beverage and cooking ingredients in Chinese cuisines. You can use this beverage as an alternative to sake in cooking.
But, use it moderately as excessive quantity may change the entire flavor of the recipe.
4. White Grape Juice
White grape juice comes from the green-skinned grapes. It’s a healthy drink with high vitamin C and antioxidant.
A study was published in 2017. It reports that grape juice is rich in antioxidants.
You can use white grape juice along with lemon zest to keep the tenderizing quality of sake. It can mimic most of the sake’s original flavor and maintain the acidity level.
5. Rice Wine Vinegar
Rice wine vinegar originates from fermented rice. The sugars in the rice are first fermented into alcohol, then into acid.
Compared to traditional vinegar, rice wine vinegar is less acidic with no alcohol in it.
If a dish requires a larger amount of sake, you can use rice wine vinegar. But, the sweetness of sake will be missing.
6. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is a popular non-alcoholic and healthy substitute for sake.
If you want the delicious umami flavor in your dish, you can mix a pinch of soy sauce with white grape juice.
Note: Do not use soy sauce alone in a recipe. Its bold earthiness may overwhelm the recipe.
7. Dashi Stock
Dashi stock is a kind of soup used in various Japanese recipes. This is a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine to bring the savory flavor as umami in food.
Dashi stock comes with numerous health benefits. A study published in 2015 shows dried bonito dashi could reduce anxiety and modifies central amino acid levels in rats.
Like soy sauce, you can mix dashi stock with white grape juice and use the mix as a substitute for sake.
Sake is a staple ingredient in Japanese cuisine. From the ancient time, people have been using it as a beverage and in cooking.
Rich in with nutritional values, sake can bring a delicious flavor to your recipe.
But, if you can’t find it anywhere or you don’t want anything alcoholic, there’s nothing to worry. You can still get the same delicious flavor of sake by using some of its substitutes.
Using these substitutes in the wrong way may completely ruin your dishes. Use them moderately to get the almost perfect flavor.