Kitchen Newbie's Guide to Vinegar
Cane, palm, sinamak, and more-get schooled on the different kinds in the supermarket.
Used as a marinade, a condiment, or a cooking agent, vinegar is an integral ingredient in Filipino cuisine. Here’s a closer look at the different varieties available on supermarket shelves.
Sukang maasim or cane vinegar is produced by fermenting sugarcane syrup. The sugarcane’s juice and sap are extracted, cooked, and fermented into vinegar. It is almost clear in appearance and has a neutral taste with a fairly strong acidity, making it an all-purpose vinegar for pickling, marinating, and cooking.
Sukang Iloko or Ilocano cane vinegar is from the northern region of Ilocos, a by-product of Ilocano sugarcane wine known as basi. It is made by cooking the cane juice to reach a molasses-like state. This juice is placed in clay jars together with the bark of a duhat or Java plum tree, then left to ferment into basi wine, then eventually into vinegar. It has a deep, dark color with a mellow flavor and a hint of sweetness.
Sukang tuba or coconut Sap vinegar is derived from tuba or the sap of the coconut palm. It has a cloudy appearance and a smooth taste, and it is not as sour as other vinegar varieties. It has a standard 5% acidity, allowing other flavors to shine through.
Sukang sasa or palm vinegar is vinegar made from the fermented sap of the nipa palm. It is also called sukang Paombong after the municipality of Paombong in Bulacan, which is known as the country's vinegar capital.
Sinamak is sukang tuba mixed with black pepper, bird’s eye chilies, ginger, garlic, and onions to bring a tone of spice and heat to fermented coconut sap. This spiced vinegar is often used as a dipping sauce for chicken inasal, grilled pork belly, or fried fish.
Photography by Miguel Nacianceno; original text by Rachelle Santos appeared in the March 2014 issue of Yummy magazine.