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Three-Vinegar Syrup

Ming says: This vinegar reduction, which adds intriguing sweet-tart flavor to dishes, takes advantage of the fact that when balsamic vinegar is cooked down, its inherent sweetness is intensified. Three-Vinegar Syrup combines the complex flavors of balsamic, rice wine, and Chinese black vinegars. It does wonders for beef and seafood, but it can also be used to intensify the taste and aroma of sweet foods including fruit, or as a dessert sauce; I serve it over vanilla ice cream with great success. And because it is syrupy, you can use it decoratively, too, to beautify plates while adding a flavor accent.

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  • 2 cups Balsamic vinegar

  • 2 cups rice wine vinegar

  • 0.5 cup Chinese black vinegar or 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and 1 piece of star anise


  • 1.

    In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the vinegars (and star anise, if using) and bring to a simmer over low heat.

  • 2.

    Continue to simmer until the mixture is reduced by about 80 percent and thickly syrupy, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (If using the star anise, remove it after the first 30 minutes of cooking.)

  • 3.

    To test for proper consistency, drizzle a little of the syrup on a chilled plate.

  • 4.

    It should keep its shape when the plate is tilted.

  • 5.

    Use or store. Lasts 4 weeks, refrigerated.


Because of the vinegars' high acid content, it's important to use a non-reactive pan for reducing them. If you can't find black vinegar, you can make a good approximation using balsamic vinegar plus star anise.

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