Sake is a traditional Japanese rice wine made by fermenting polished rice bran. It is typically around 15% ABV and is a popular drink to pair with meals. Sake is also a famous ingredient in many recipes, as it both tenderizes meat and adds a subtle depth of flavor. However, if you can’t find sake in your area, there are many ingredients that can make up for amazing sake substitutes.
Mirin, Sweet Sherry, or Chinese Shaoxing Wine
They are all good substitutes if the recipe calls for only a small amount of sake, such as 1-2 tbsp. However, adding more than that may change the flavor of the recipe entirely.
Rice Wine Vinegar
For larger amounts, many people prefer to use rice wine vinegar, although much of the sweetness of the sake will be lost.
White Grape Juice
Dashi Stock or Soy Sauce
Mixing a pinch of either Dashi stock or soy sauce with white grape juice will give a bit of umami to a recipe, and not take over the sweetness of the juice. This is a good non-alcoholic substitute of sake.
Note: Dashi stock and soy sauce are not recommended as substitutes by themselves, as their bold earthiness may overwhelm a recipe.