I absolutely love vinegar. It is my go-to pantry staple for cooking, dressing, and finishing. I usually reach for my bottle of sherry vinegar instead of a lemon when making my classic house vinaigrette; the rounded nutty flavors that are characteristic of sherry add a certain complexity to an otherwise boring bowl of greens. Sometimes I toss fresh, ripe mango in a bit of rice vinegar for an acidic component that is a perfect complement to the sweet, fragrant fruit. Here is a short list my favorite types of vinegars and how I like to use each one...
Distilled White: This is so much more than a cleaning agent. Use white vinegar to brighten stews or chili in the final stages of seasoning. It also make a killer homemade Mae Ploy (sweet chili sauce).
Cider Vinegar: Inexpensive and an all-around, good-for-everything vinegar. Dressings, braises, cole slaw, and potato salad are just a handful of things that benefit from this pantry powerhouse.
Sherry Vinegar: This is one of my favorite vinegars. In addition to being the main ingredient in my house dressing, it also worked in a pinch when I needed to deglaze a pot while making lamb stew a couple of weeks ago and found myself without red wine. Sherry vinegar pairs particularly well with shallots.
Red Wine Vinegar: Though more acidic than sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar also works for dressings with the help of a bit of sugar or honey. It also makes a delicious escabeche.
Champagne and White Wine Vinegar: These are bright and light vinegars and work best with tender-lettuce salads. Try pairing with herbs such as tarragon or chervil.
Balsamic Vinegar: Aged in wood, balsamic is mellow and deep in flavor. Not only is it suitable for salads and steak, a well-aged balsamic vinegar is delicious drizzled over strawberries or vanilla ice cream.
Rice Vinegar: Stir fries would be nothing without it. The smoothest and gentlest of them all, rice vinegar can be sprinkle over fruit, steamed veggies, or stirred into light soups.