Mirin is a Japanese sweet rice wine used to balance savoury-salty soups, marinades and dressings. The authentic Japanese ingredient is often used as the base of sauces – teriyaki, for example, is a mixture of soy and mirin. Also use it in tempura dipping sauces, noodle broths, and even for enhancing the flavour of desserts such as poached pears.
What is mirin?
Mirin is an essential Japanese ingredient. It is distilled from rice and is similar to sake, but with a much lower alcohol content. The majority of mirin rice wines, like this one, are in fact mirin-style seasonings, with an alcohol content lower than 1%. This style of mirin was invented when supplies of the traditional mirin rice were low, and alcohol taxes high. Mirin style seasoning remains popular to this day, for its naturally sweet flavour and affordability.
How do I cook with mirin?
Many popular Japanese dips and dressings use mirin, usually mixed with soy sauce and sometimes dashi. Mirin is also a key ingredient in yakitori, sukiyaki, and teriyaki dishes, imparting a distinctive sweetness and a glazed appearance. When sautéing or stir-frying fish and vegetables, try adding a little mirin towards the end of cooking. The alcohol will burn off and the natural sugars will quickly caramelise to add richness. You can also use mirin when simmering or poaching – try with fish, tofu or shiitake mushrooms. Mirin is a great ‘secret ingredient’ for Japanese noodle broths – often the addition of just a splash will help to round out the flavours and balance any saltiness.
How do I choose which mirin to buy?
For everyday Japanese cooking, mirin-style seasonings such as this one from Mizkan are ideal. It brings authentic Japanese flavours to your cooking, and is essential for balancing salty soy sauce.
Hon mirin, or ‘true mirin’, is also available. This is premium quality wine made from traditional mirin rice and has an alcohol content of 14%. Hon mirin is suitable for beverage use as well as cooking.
Ingredients: glucose syrup, water, fermented seasoning (water, rice, alcohol, salt and acid E330), spirit vineagr, caramel syrup, acid:E330 [Max alcohol 0.5%]
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