Mirin: What It Is, and How to Substitute It In Cooking
Our taste buds have learned to recognize umami in Japanese foods, thanks to the spicy depth of flavor associated with certain spices. A Japanese staple, Mirin, is often found in traditional recipes. This rice substitute for sugar provides a balance for the salinity of soy or miso. But what is Mirin and what can you replace if you have none at hand? We'll get to the bottom of it so you can continue cooking with simple submarines that you may already have in your kitchen.
What is mine
Mirin is sweeter than sake and is used as a sugar substitute in Japanese cuisine and also as a drink. The alcohol content is 10 to 14 percent, but it burns off during cooking and leaves a mild sweetness.
Mirin has a pronounced aroma that adds to its taste. In fact, scientists have identified 39 key compounds that contribute to the unique odor. The malted rice and the ripened porridge are part of the combination of ingredients that give the liquid a rich fragrance. Mirin is stronger than you think, and it can mask the fishy taste and give the dishes a nice glaze.
House cooks can choose between pure hon-mirin, which means "real or real mirin," or aji-mirin, which means "tastes like mirin." Naturally fermented Hon-Mirin has more alcohol and is generally more expensive than Aji-Mirin, which usually contains cheaper fillers such as other sugars, rice vinegar, corn syrup and artificial colors. There are two main ingredients of authentic Hon Mirin: koji, which is rice fermented in Japan, and Shochu, Japan's national alcoholic drink (no, it's not sake!).
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Best Mirin replacement
If you do not cook Japanese food often, you can find yourself in the pantry without mirin when it's time to prepare a teriyaki sauce, fried vegetables, or a soy-mirin marinade. No need to worry – there are several mirin substitutes that work almost as well. If necessary, a simple sugar-water combination, honey or agave syrup can mimic the sweetness of mirin. As a rule of thumb, a ratio of water to sugar of 3: 1 to achieve the right sweetness. However, these mirin replacement options will lack the pleasing umami flavor.
The best mirin substitutes have both acidic and sweet properties and include:
- sweet Marsala wine
- dry white wine
- Dry sherry
- Rice wine vinegar
These will not be so sweet, so try adding 1/2 teaspoon of sugar per tablespoon of the replacement.
If you do not like the idea of cooking with alcohol, Mizkan Mirin is the alcohol-free version.
Where can I find Mirin?
Japanese specialty markets and grocery stores run Hon Mirin and also Aji Mirin. If you do not have a Japanese or Asian grocery store near you and want authentic Mirin, this little Japanese Mirin brewed by the Sumiya family in the seaside town of Hekinan is available from Amazon.
Otherwise, brands like Kikkoman are quite easy to get and available in grocery stores in the US.