Have you ever heard of mirin? It is a Japanese condiment made from rice wine and plays a key role in many Japanese dishes like teriyaki. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find mirin outside of specialty stores or online. Luckily, some great alternatives have comparable taste profiles if you don’t have access to mirin. Let’s take a look at the best substitutes for mirin.
- What is Mirin?
- Hon Mirin vs Aji Mirin
- List of 16 Best Mirin Substitutes
- 1. Aji Mirin
- 2. Mirin-Fu Chomiryo (A Mirin-Style Seasoning)
- 3. Dry Sherry
- 4. Dry Madeira
- 5. Sake
- 6. Black Vinegar
- 7. Rice Wine Vinegar And Sugar Syrup
- 8. White Wine Vinegar And Sugar Syrup
- 9. Apple Cider Vinegar
- 10. Champagne Vinegar
- 11. Malt Vinegar
- 12. Balsamic Vinegar
- 13. Chinese Red Vinegar
- 14. Sweet Vermouth and Lime Juice
- 15. Sweet Marsala Wine
- 16. Moscato
- People Also Ask [FAQs]
- Wrap-Up: Mirin Substitutes
- 🍽️ Recipe
What is Mirin?
Mirin's origins trace back to Japan's Kansai region during the 15th century, where it was initially consumed as a sweet liquor. However, as its sweet and flavourful character gained popularity, mirin transitioned into the culinary world, playing a significant role in traditional Japanese cuisine.
This amber-colored liquid continues to grace countless Japanese dishes by providing a delightful balance between sweet, salty, and sour flavors.
Mirin's unique sweetness and subtle umami flavor elevate various dishes without overpowering them. Its low viscosity allows it to penetrate and tenderize ingredients in recipes such as fish or poultry. At the same time, the alcohol content works wonders to neutralize any unwanted odors.
Additionally, when combined with soy sauce, mirin helps to create dishes with an extraordinary balance between sweet and salty flavors.
Hon Mirin vs Aji Mirin
There are two main types of mirin: hon mirin, which is authentic mirin, and aji mirin, which is a mirin-flavored seasoning.
Hon mirin is made by fermenting sweet rice, rice koji, and shochu, which is a distilled spirit similar to vodka. This fermentation process increases the number of fungi, converting rice starch into sugar and eventually developing an alcohol content of around 14%. Hon mirin is known for its rich, complex, and sweet flavor.
On the other hand, Aji mirin is a mirin-like seasoning that is slightly better than shio mirin or new mirin. It is made with a mixture of sugars, water, and synthetic flavor enhancers and usually contains less than 10% alcohol. Although it is less authentic than hon mirin, aji mirin is still commonly used in many kitchens because it is affordable and easy to find.
List of 16 Best Mirin Substitutes
There are plenty of options when you need a sweet and savory substitute for mirin. From store-bought alternatives to easy recipes that can be made at home, here are 16 great options to use instead of mirin.
1. Aji Mirin
First of all, know that aji mirin is not mirin at all. Its name says it all—it tastes just like mirin but isn’t. It is a commercially produced synthetic form of mirin which is very popular.
Aji Mirin has a slightly sweet taste with very little acidity and contains 8% alcohol, giving it a mild alcoholic flavor. It should be used in the same quantity as Mirin when used as an alternative.
2. Mirin-Fu Chomiryo (A Mirin-Style Seasoning)
Mirin-Fu Chomiryo is a seasoning that is similar to regular mirin but does not contain shochu, an alcoholic beverage. Instead, alcohol has been added to it, resulting in a much sweeter flavor than traditional mirin.
This drink is basically flavored corn syrup which has been fortified with salt and MSG for a unique flavor. It should be used in moderation, as it is much sweeter than regular mirin and only requires half the amount when substituted.
If you're unfamiliar with corn syrup or are looking for substitutes, our corn syrup substitute article can provide helpful information.
3. Dry Sherry
Dry sherry is a fortified wine made with palomino grapes and aged in oak barrels. This mustn't be confused with vinegar, as it has a completely dissimilar in taste, and sherry vinegar substitutes are different.
It makes a good substitute for Mirin because of its similar sweetness and nutty notes, giving it an added dimension of flavor that isn't present in regular Mirin.
Dry sherry should be used in the same quantity as regular Mirin when used as an alternative.
4. Dry Madeira
Dry Madeira is a type of fortified wine made from white grapes grown on Madeira Island, Portugal. It has a sweet and nutty flavor, with notes of honey and caramel, which makes it a great substitute for Mirin in many dishes.
The wine is aged in oak casks or barrels, giving it its distinctive flavor and aroma. When substituting with dry Madeira, use equal parts to replace the quantity of regular Mirin called for in your recipe.
On the list of great options, sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice that adds umami flavor to dishes while maintaining some sweetness from the rice wine it's made from.
If substituting sake for mirin, use one part sake to two parts sugar as they have different sweetness levels. You'll need more sugar to achieve the desired result.
6. Black Vinegar
Black vinegar is a type of dark-colored vinegar typically made from rice, barley, or sorghum with a deep, earthy flavor. Not everyone knows about black vinegar, but it is an excellent substitute for mirin when the earthy umami flavor is needed.
To get the same sweetness as mirin, add 1 teaspoon of sugar or fruit juice for every tablespoon of black vinegar used in the recipe. Black vinegar pairs well with fish, vegetables, and pork dishes.
7. Rice Wine Vinegar And Sugar Syrup
Rice vinegar, also known as rice wine vinegar, has a mildly acidic flavor and subtle sweetness. It is made from fermented rice and has no alcohol, despite the name wine.
It is commonly used in Japanese cuisine and has many applications in different cuisines worldwide. Try Chinese rice wine vinegar with sugar syrup for a taste profile closest to actual mirin.
Alternatively, Japanese sweet rice wine vinegar is milder than Chinese rice wine vinegar, and there is no need to add sugar syrup when using the latter.
Mix one tablespoon of rice wine vinegar with half a teaspoon of sugar syrup to get a similar flavor to traditional mirin. This combination pairs well with beef and vegetable dishes and stir-fries.
8. White Wine Vinegar And Sugar Syrup
White wine vinegar mixed with sugar syrup also has a similar flavor profile to traditional mirin, but it is less sweet than the combination of rice wine vinegar and sugar syrup.
Mix two tablespoons of white wine vinegar and one teaspoon of sugar syrup in your recipes to achieve a similar sweetness to real mirin. This pairing works best with seafood dishes like salmon and tuna steaks.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another good substitute for mirin because it has a mild flavor and slightly sweet taste.
To get closer to the sweetness level of traditional mirin use one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar combined with ½ teaspoon of granulated white sugar per recipe or dish being prepared.
Apple cider vinegar goes great in Asian-inspired chicken dishes or glazes for roasted vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes.
10. Champagne Vinegar
Suppose you want less acidity in your recipes or dishes that call for traditional mirin. In that case, champagne vinegar is an excellent option. It is similar in flavor to apple cider vinegar but slightly milder.
Use one tablespoon of champagne vinegar combined with ¼ teaspoon of granulated white sugar for each recipe or dish to replicate the sweetness levels found in authentic mirin more closely.
Champagne vinaigrette works great for salads or grilled vegetables like asparagus or broccoli florets.
11. Malt Vinegar
This has a strong flavor, so use it sparingly at first. The taste of malt vinegar is similar to that of mirin, but with a sour edge that gives it a unique flavor.
Use ½ teaspoon of malt vinegar for every tablespoon of mirin called for in your recipe. This works well with grilled meats and vegetables.
12. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is a type of vinegar made from pressed grapes, typically from Italy's Modena or Reggio Emilia regions.
It has a distinct sweet and tart flavor with notes of fruit and raisin, making it an ideal accompaniment for salads, marinades, and glazes.
Use 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to replace each tablespoon of mirin called for in your recipe. This pairs amazingly with roasted vegetables or grilled fish.
13. Chinese Red Vinegar
Chinese red vinegar is a type of vinegar made from fermented red rice, which gives it a naturally sweet and sour flavor.
It has a deep red hue and is often used in Chinese cooking to add depth of flavor to stir-fries, marinades, and sauces. For each tablespoon of mirin needed in your recipe, use two teaspoons of Chinese red vinegar instead.
Its robust flavor goes well with noodle dishes like lo mein or chow mein as well as vegetable stews like bok choy stew or eggplant stew.
14. Sweet Vermouth and Lime Juice
Sweet vermouth is an aromatized and fortified wine that is infused with herbs and spices for a unique flavor profile. It has a slightly sweet taste, but can also be slightly bitter and is often used in cocktails.
A dash of lime juice added to the sweet vermouth enhances its flavor and adds a hint of acidity that pairs well with many dishes.
To substitute for mirin, mix together two tablespoons of sweet vermouth and one teaspoon of lime juice in place of each tablespoon of mirin called for in the recipe. This combination tastes great on roasted or grilled meats and vegetables.
15. Sweet Marsala Wine
Marsala wine is a fortified Italian red or white wine that has been aged for several years in oak barrels. It has a sweet, nutty flavor with notes of caramel and dried fruits.
To replace mirin in recipes, mix two tablespoons of Marsala wine and one teaspoon of granulated white sugar for each tablespoon called for. It is great with dishes like grilled shrimp or roasted vegetables.
Moscato wine is a light, sweet Italian white wine with notes of honey and citrus. Its subtle sweetness adds a nice flavor to many dishes without overpowering them.
For each tablespoon of mirin needed in the recipe, mix together two tablespoons of Moscato wine and one teaspoon of granulated white sugar for a similar sweetness level. This combination goes well with seafood dishes, salads, and fruit desserts.
People Also Ask [FAQs]
Mirin is not rice vinegar, as they have different taste profiles and ingredients. Mirin is sweet, with a slight alcoholic taste, while rice vinegar has no traces of alcohol and provides tartness to your dishes.
Mirin is a sweet and low-alcohol Japanese rice wine commonly used in cooking, particularly for sushi, teriyaki, ramen, and as an ingredient in eel sauce.
Yes, Mirin should be refrigerated after opening and used within 3 months.
Wrap-Up: Mirin Substitutes
- There are a variety of different substitutes for mirin that you can use to replicate the sweetness levels found in authentic recipes.
- These include Aji mirin, sake mixed with sugar, vermouth mixed with lime, champagne vinegar, and granulated white sugar; malt vinegar; balsamic vinegar; Chinese red vinegar; sweet marsala wine, Moscato wine, and rice wine vinegar mixed with sugar syrup.
- Each substitute offers its own unique flavor profile so experiment to find which works best for your dish!
- Ultimately, these alternatives make it easier than ever to enjoy delicious dishes without relying on traditional mirin.
- Leave a comment to let us know how your homemade Mirin turned out!
- Share any additional tips or tricks you may have discovered along the way to help others unlock the magic of authentic Japanese cooking.
Mirin Substitute: Unlocking the Magic of Authentic Japanese Cooking
- 1 cup glutinous rice
- 1 cup Koji rice
- 2 cups Japanese Shochu or Sake
Preparing the glutinous rice:
- Begin by rinsing the glutinous rice in water multiple times, ensuring that the water runs clear.
- Once that's done, let the rice soak in cold water for about 2 to 4 hours.
- After soaking, drain the rice well and place it in a steamer basket lined with cheesecloth.
- Steam the rice for 40-45 minutes, or until it becomes tender, and then set it aside to cool down completely.
Mixing glutinous rice with Koji rice:
- Once the glutinous rice is completely cooled down, mix it with the Koji rice evenly.
- Transfer the mixture into a sterilized jar large enough to hold both the rice and the liquid.
Adding the liquid component:
- Next, pour the Japanese Shochu or Sake into the rice mixture.
- Stir well to ensure that the rice and liquid are well combined.
- Seal the jar with a clean cheesecloth or towel, and store it in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight.
- Patience, young grasshopper! The secret to unlocking the magic of authentic Mirin lies in a slow and steady fermentation process.
- The mix needs to ferment for at least three months, during which, you must stir the contents once every week.
Straining and bottling:
- After the fermentation period, take out the jar and strain the contents through a cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer.
- Make sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the rice.
- Transfer the liquid, your freshly brewed Mirin, to sterilized bottles and store them in a cool, dark place.
- For optimum results, make sure that you use the freshest ingredients available to you, particularly the Koji rice.
- Fresh Koji will provide a rich and intricate flavor to your Mirin that you won't find with store-bought substitutes.
- The longer you leave the mixture to ferment, the more complex and flavorsome your Mirin will be!
- If you can resist the temptation, allow it to ferment for up to six months for a truly divine taste.