In some of our Japanese recipes, you may have noticed that Mirin is an ingredient and wondered, “what is it? This brief article will explain what it is, how it differs from other rice wines, where you can find it, etc.
WHAT IS MIRIN?
Japanese rice wine, known as Mirin has an alcohol concentration between 1 and 14%, while sake typically ranges from 18% to 20%. It’s sweeter, too, and used primarily in the kitchen, but some excellent varieties can be enjoyed straight from the bottle.
When making teriyaki sauce or other Japanese meals like Gyudon or Sukiyaki, we utilize Mirin exclusively, but you won’t find it in any Chinese recipe.
HOW IS IT USED?
Noodles, rice, sauces, glazes, and broths benefit from Mirin’s addition. Amongst Westerners, making teriyaki sauce is the most common application. It goes well in salad dressings and makes a tasty dipping sauce for fried dishes like tempura combined with dashi and soy sauce.
PURCHASE AND STORAGE
Depending on the store you visit, you could discover various varieties. Hon mirin, often known as “genuine mirin,” is a sweet rice wine that is fermented the traditional way and has about 14% alcohol without any added salt or sugar. If your local Asian market or grocery store does not sell alcohol, you may not be able to find hon mirin.
Most stores stock aji mirin, which is less potent than true Mirin and is most likely watered down with corn syrup or other sweeteners. It may also be called a “seasoning” or “sauce” on the bottle.
You may use either of them in any of our recipes. Our standard is to use only the finest hon mirin in our cooking, but if you can’t get any, either of the other two types will do. You can also check out the options in cyberspace.
It is not necessary to refrigerate Mirin; it can be stored for months in a cold, dry spot. But if your kitchen gets really hot, or if you just want to be safe, refrigerating it is the best option.
ALTERNATIVES TO MIRIN
Those who frequently prepare Chinese food will find that Chinese rice wine can be used in place of Mirin (not so much for dressings or dipping sauces).
To achieve the same syrupy consistency as Mirin, however, sugar will also need to be added to the dish. Also, some rice wines, like Shaoxing wine, are saltier than Mirin, so watch out for that.
For a similar flavor, you can use dry cooking sherry (with sugar added) or sweet marsala wine.
A mixture of sugar and water (one part sugar to three parts water) can be used in place of alcohol if necessary or desired.