If you love Asian cuisine, but don't always want to order take-out, chances are you have come across a stir-fry recipe --- or anything with teriyaki --- that requires mirin. At that point, you probably wondered to yourself "What in the world is mirin?"
From teriyaki chicken to ramen dishes, mirin adds a sweet, yet tangy rich flavor to a dish. And, if you love cooking, but don't have a bottle of mirin in your cupboard, then you are definitely failing to benefit from this must-have for homemade Japanese cuisine.
Mirin is a Japanese cooking wine that is similar to sake but has more sugar and less alcohol content. It is made from rice, koji, and distilled sake which is mixed together and held for sixty days. During that time, the koji converts the starch in the rice into sugar. Then, once the solids are strained, the left behind liquid is mirin.
It pairs extremely well with soy sauce and is a staple ingredient for a plethora of dipping sauces, marinades, glazes, and broths because it adds amazing flavor.
The steamed Mochi rice and malted rice fermented with alcohol makes mirin sweet because rice produces a lot of sugar and alcohol due to the fermentation process. Mirin will give your food sweetness, along with a nice aroma.
It can be difficult to find in American stores, but some do carry it in the Asian food section. Of course, you can always buy it online. Some of the bigger brands, like Kikkoman, label their mirin as "aji-mirin," which means "tastes like mirin." They most likely added sweeteners, like sugar or corn syrup, but it works perfectly in any recipe that calls for mirin.
Other brands available in the U.S. include Edin and Sushi Chef, and Edin appears to be the only brand of mirin in the States that doesn't have any added refined sugar. This makes it the best option for anyone who is diabetic or on a reduced-sugar diet.
Most people use mirin like cooking sake, but it will give your dish a much sweeter taste because of the higher amount of sugar (as much as 45 percent) and less alcohol content (only 12 to 14 percent). It is the key ingredient in a traditional teriyaki sauce recipe, and you can also use it as a finishing touch on a Japanese soup.
The sugar in mirin makes it work well in sauces, glazes, and marinades, and mirin is so versatile that you will never run out of ways to use it. Some ideas include --
If you need mirin for a recipe and can't make it to the store, you can substitute with sweet marsala wine or dry sherry. Other options are rice vinegar or dry white wine, but because they are so sour, you will need to add one-half teaspoon of sugar to every tablespoon of rice vinegar or white wine that you use.
You can also make your own mirin substitute with just three ingredients
If you don't have sake, you can use a dry white wine like vermouth.
This simple recipe will get you out of your salmon rut by using a delicious sweet and salty homemade teriyaki sauce. And, it only takes just a few minutes to have an amazing, healthy dish for dinner.
Bon Appetit calls this recipe one of the greatest of all time, and in addition mirin, this Korean dish calls for ingredients like onion, kiwi, and an Asian pear. But that's not all. You will also need minced garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, carrots, and radishes, and you serve the finished dish with steamed rice.
This Japanese-style recipe for the grill is surprisingly easy to make, and it is also extremely versatile. The marinade is amazing with chicken, but it also goes well with salmon.
The chicken in this dish is full of flavor, but also light and filling. Serve it with rice and veggies, and you will have your family coming back for seconds.
We mentioned earlier that mirin is a key ingredient in homemade teriyaki sauce. And, some people call this authentic recipe the best teriyaki sauce they have ever tasted.
This recipe features a simple five-ingredient sauce that is filled with flavor, and the perfect choice for when you want to bring a Japanese restaurant into your kitchen. The sesame seeds add a roasted nutty note to the dish, and you can complete the meal with brown rice, veggies, and quinoa.
This light, but sweet dish features a filet of fish served with low-calorie, high-fiber veggies. If you are looking for a delicious, yet healthy and balanced recipe to add to your diet, this one is perfect for your personal cookbook.
Now that we have got you craving Asian food go out and add mirin to your pantry. Once you start using it in your chicken, fish, and beef recipes, you won't be able to live without it.