For vinegar, I don’t taste much of a difference between brands, although color is important. Dark vinegar, or “Chen Cu” 陈醋, is the standard in China and the famous ones always come from Shanxi province 山西. While cooking with a very experienced coworker, I learned that a particular brand is famous here: Dong Hu, literally East Lake brand. You could search for it, but I’m not sure if it is available outside of China.
Medicinal benefits: A study has shown that putting vinegar in the food you eat can increase satiety, which leads to less food intake.[*2000] This is a great natural benefit for people fighting obesity. Other potential benefits include fighting infections, but there are other things out there which are more effective.
Apple (cider) Vinegar is a common drink I see in supermarkets here. Some studies have hinted that it could help with conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Maybe you should get a bottle and try sometime. Shake things up a little!
One type of cooking that has always worried me is “steamed” anything! I know white rice is steamed, but how do I actually steam food without another special machine. If you are like me, read about using your rice cooker as a steamer for dishes first, then come back and follow these easy steps.
PREP: Finely mince 2-3 cloves of garlic and put them aside. Keep bottles of sesame oil, vinegar, and soy sauce handy. Salt too. (See image below) Also, use a steamer or your rice cooker.
1~ Slice up the eggplant in half, then into 1/2″ thick strips-lengthwise. This can be altered as you do the recipe more often and develop a preference.
2~ With your cooker/steamer warmed up, place the raw, sliced eggplant strips into the steaming tray. Let them steam for 5-10 minutes.
3~ Pull tray out of steamer carefully… let the tray sit on a cooling rack or kitchen counter. Sprinkle salt over them. After a minute, start pulling the eggplant into strings with chop sticks or a fork. You’ll notice that water is pulled out of the eggplant by the salt.
4~ After draining the water out, you’ll see the resulting mushy stuff that is in the image below. Let it cool for about 5 minutes before adding about a tablespoon of vinegar, a teaspoon of sesame oil, a splash of soy sauce, and the minced garlic. Mix completely.
* This dish is best served cool. You should be able to taste the fragrant sesame with a twang of vinegar.