Malty & saucy

A few easy ways to use your new favourite ingredient: malt vinegar

Malt vinegar has an indelible association with fish and chips. Rightly so: that tang is just what all that grease needs (don't get me wrong, I love all that grease). And tangy it is: much of the straightforwardly tongue-searing ‘malt vinegar’ you find in chippies is, in fact, non-brewed condiment: nothing but acetic acid deleted in water and tinged with caramel colouring.

But there’s more to malt! Real malt vinegar can have amazing depth of flavour. The Artisan Vinegar Company’s version, for instance, is made from real house-brewed ale and aged for around a year in ex-bourbon whiskey casks.

Real malt vinegar has all kinds of culinary applications. For instance, I love to use it in sauces. The vinegar's near-savoury richness, dark and fruity qualities, and surprisingly gentle acidity all shine in the following three recipe ideas.

1. Mint sauce

Using malt vinegar in mint sauce gives it a really nice rounded feel and makes a nice change from the usual white wine vinegar.

The proportions here vary recipe by recipe. Start by pouring a few tablespoons of boiling water into a small bowl and stirring in two tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir in an equal amount of vinegar, followed by a large handful of finely chopped mint. Adjust the seasoning to taste, letting the sauce cool and mellow before serving.

2. Salad dressing

Malt vinegar isn’t often used in salad dressings, which is a shame — it works very well. I particularly like it with tomatoes, whose glorious season is just waning.

Olive oil, malt vinegar, salt and pepper, maybe a pinch of sugar, and bob’s your uncle.

3. Asian dipping sauce

I’ve saved the best for last: this stuff is truly addictive.

Mix equal parts good soy sauce and malt vinegar in a small bowl, sweetening to taste with a good pinch of sugar (although you could even skip the sugar). Dip in your gyoza, your spring rolls, anything of that sort.

— Beatrix Swanson

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