Mirin – Sweet Rice Wine

Mirin (味醂, みりん) is an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It is a rice wine, so it is similar to sake, but it is never drunk, only used in cooking. There are several different types of mirin, but the most easily available is Aji-mirin. The bottle pictured is the most common brand, so just look for that shape and color in the store!

If you want a more rich Japanese taste, you can look for hon-mirin, (本味醂, ほんみりん) which translates as “real mirin” but I just use Aji-mirin. What makes it real? It’s a real wine. However, it is more expensive and since it has a higher alcohol content, you might only find it in liquor stores.

Mirin is becoming increasingly available, you should be able to find it in grocery stores. If you absolutely cannot find it, the 2nd best substitute is 1 tablespoon of sugar to 1/2 cup of sake. If you don’t have sake, you can try dry sherry or white wine. If you can’t cook with alcohol, then the next best thing is 1 tablespoon of sugar to 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. I’ve also heard of some people using corn syrup, but I haven’t actually tried that one myself. Or, if it in in a recipe where it’s not one of the main components, you can leave it out.

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