India is in the middle of a culinary and gastronomical explosion. The cosmopolitan lifestyle, globetrotting careers and social media has resulted in a never before variety in our palates, ingredients, dishes and even expectations. Shows like masterchef, youtube have often emphasized the use of a dash of cooking wine in marination, toppings, cakes etc. however it is almost next to impossible to get an affordable cooking wine in India. Net result is that our tastebuds are deprived of the unique experiences which the tv shows and cookbooks talk about. Some people experiment with cider vinegar, rum/vodka, fruit juices but they are second best substitutes as well. A good cooking wine should not only have an ability to give the complex flavors & mouthfeel that your dish needs but is also light on your pocket.
In this series we will talk about types of cooking wines and an inexpensive way to DIY your cooking wine, you don't need to be a cooking from scratch geek to follow this simple recipe for your most elusive ingredient.
Internet will confuse you with more than a dozen cooking wines and in the end you cannot tell the style from the brand name. IMHO there are three major types of cooking wines:
1. Rice wine: Which pair well with Asian recipes and marination of those hard chicken & mutton pieces into succulent delights. Try using them with cottage cheese as well.
2. Sweet wines are best paired with cakes (white wines), icecreams (nutty sweet wines), chocolates (port/fortified wines), tarts, and other rich creamy fruit based recipes.
3. Dry wines: great for fish, sauce, soups, European cooking.
My personal favorite is a Prespiced dry wines (onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon) which can be used across most sauces and marination. However if you want to stick to your culinary books then adding some Saki Koji to steamed rice can produce Rice wine in a week. Sweet wines recipe was published yesterday (3 day instant wine) and for dry wines restrict the sugar content so that sugar completely ferments.