Sake comes from a family of rice wines used traditionally in Japanese cuisine. Rice wines, however, are more like beers because they're fermented from grains -- not fruits. In a marinade, sake adds flavor, but also helps tenderize the meat and adds a good deal of acid to balance out other ingredients.
Use Cooking Sake
Cooking sake is available at your grocery store with other cooking wines. By law cooking wines and liquors must have salt added to make them unfit for drinking; therefore, you need to adjust the salt in your marinade to account for the saltiness in the cooking sake. Use cooking sake in equal proportions to the sake in your marinade recipe.
Try Rice Wine Vinegar
Since sake is a rice wine, rice wine vinegar is a suitable replacement for sake. Also, rice wine is nonalcoholic, which works if you're in need of a nonalcoholic substitute. Rice wine vinegar is powerful and doesn't add additional flavor like sake, so use a smaller amount of rice wine vinegar to replace sake in your marinade recipe.
Add in a Dry Wine
A dry wine -- either cooking or drinking variety -- can be used instead of sake. Try a dry sherry or dry white wine -- such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc -- in your recipe. Use dry wines in equal proportions to the sake called for in your recipe. Although you can use a sweet white wine, this may alter the taste of your marinade.
Chicken broth doesn't have a vinegary taste, but it adds flavor and body to a marinade. Use chicken broth as a last-minute replacement if you don't have rice wine, dry wines or sherry on hand. You might want to add a splash of lemon or white distilled vinegar in addition to the chicken broth if your marinade doesn't contain any other acids. Use chicken broth in equal parts to the sake in the recipe.
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