If you have ever made any Japanese food at home, you have no doubt seen the mention of this mysterious, yet essential component: Mirin.
Mirin is used throughout Japanese cooking and is a key ingredient in well-known sauces like teriyaki.
But have you ever stopped and thought that Mirin actually is? Do you know the difference between Mirin and Rice Vinegar?
In this article, we investigate all things Mirin. Things like Where to buy Mirin, What it actually is, what it’s made of and more!
Where to Buy Mirin?
In a hurry and need to know where to buy Mirin quicktime? You have come to the right place.
We have put together a list of the supermarkets currently selling Mirin right here in the UK:
Mirin At Sainsburys : Sainsbury’s Mirin 150ml – £1.79.
Mirin At Waitrose: Cooks Ingredients Mirin 150ml – £2.50
Mirin At Morrisons: Yutaka Mirin 150ml – £1.70
Mirin At Tesco: Yutaka Mirin 150ml – £1.90
Mirin At Ocado: Blue Dragon Mirin 150ml – £1.99
Mirin At Amazon: Amazon has a great selection of Mirin and in most cases, is better value.
What Is Mirin?
Mirin is a type of rice wine originating in Japan.
Mirin is very similar to sake, however, it has a much lower alcohol content and a much higher sugar content. No sugar is added to Mirin, the high sugar content is a result of the fermentation process which takes place.
This fermentation process produces complex carbohydrates which causes the high sugar yield.
Currently, there are three types of Mirin:
Hon Mirin – Translating to ‘True Mirin’, this type contains around 14% alcohol and is produced using a 40 to 60 day mashing process. Mashing mirin is the process of combining rice with water and then heating the mixture.
Shio Mirin – Translating to ‘Salt Mirin’, this type has a much lower alcohol content, around 1% – 2%. The low alcohol content means that the producers do not have to pay any alcohol tax, so can charge less for the end product.
Shin Mirin – Translating to ‘New Mirin’, this type of Mirin contains less than 1% alcohol but still manages to yield the same Mirin flavour.
How is Mirin Made?
All mirin is made by distilling and fermenting rice.
Mirin itself is made by the fermentation of rice starch that has then been converted to sugar.
The below video does a great job of showing you the entire process of how to make Mirin:
Mirin VS Rice Vinegar
The age old question: What is the difference between Mirin & Rice Vinegar?
Well, the two main differences between Mirin vs Rice vinegar is the sugar & alcohol content.
Mirin has a much higher sugar content and therefore, delivers sweet undertones to any dish. In addition to this, the alcohol content in the Mirin also helps pack a umami flavour into whatever you are making.
Rice vinegar on the other hand packs a lot more acidity and therefore creates a sour/tangy flavour when added during the cooking process. Rice vinegar itself contains less sugar than Mirin and absolutely no alcohol.
One other difference between Mirin Vs Rice Vinegar is the gluten content.
Mirin is completely gluten free. This is because Mirin is a rice-based cooking wine fermented from rice that is gluten free in the beginning.
Can you Use Rice Vinegar Instead of Mirin?
No. Rice Vinegar and mirin are two completely different ingredients that add different things to a dish.
If you are looking for a Mirin substitute, try combining sake and sugar together (See the substitute section below for the recommended ratios).
Whilst this combination is not a like for like substitute for Mirin, it is the next best thing.
What is Mirin Used For?
Mirin is widely used in Japanese cooking and is a crucial ingredient in some of your favourite dishes.
For example, Mirin is used when making a Teriyaki sauce to add a bright, umami taste.
It is widely used when cooking fish to help reduce the ‘fishy smell’ that some people do not enjoy and add again, a bright, fresh element to the dish.
It’s important to use Mirin sparingly as the flavour can be quite overpowering if used in large quantities.
How to Store Mirin
The best place to store Mirin is in a cool, dark place where the temperature does not fluctuate dramatically.
If you are using Hon Mirin, it will last up to 3 months after opening due to the higher alcohol content.
If you are using a Mirin with a lower alcohol content, then try to make sure you have used it all up within 2 months.
What is Mirin Substitute?
The best substitute for Mirin is a combination of Sake and sugar.
You’ll want to combine 3 parts sake to 1 part sugar. As an example, if you have 1tbsp of sake, you’ll want to mix 1tsp of sugar.
Whilst this mix won’t achieve the same bright, umami flavourings that Mirin offers, it is the next best thing!