Japanese cuisines are common all around the world, and there is a chance that you have tasted it at least once in your lifetime. However, our tongue has learned to recognize umami in Japanese food due to the Savory depth of flavors of certain seasonings.
Mirin substitute for sugar provides a balance for the saltiness of soy or miso in most traditional recipes. But what do you mean by mirin and which substitute you can use instead of it? Here in this article, we are going to discuss mirin and some of the best mirin substitutes that you can use in your Japanese recipes.
What do you mean by mirin?
Mirin is a type of rice wine that contains higher sugar content and lower alcohol content. However, you can use it as a sugar substitute in Japanese cuisine. Moreover, you can also enjoy it as a beverage. There is around ten to fourteen percent alcohol content present in mirin. But it leaves the dish with a mild sweetness after burning off during cooking.
Scientists have identified some vital compounds such as malted rice or aged mash that give a rich fragrance and aromas to the liquid. However, mirin is stronger that can mask the fish flavor and add a nice glaze to traditional dishes.
Most of the people choose between pure hon mirin or aji mirin while cooking at their home. Hon mirin is known as true mirin, and aji mirin means that tastes like mirin. However, naturally fermented hon mirin is expensive and has more alcohol content than aji mirin.
It is due to the presence of cheaper fillers such as rice vinegar, corn syrup, sugars and artificial coloring in aji mirin. On the other hand, Koji is rice fermented with a particular mold, and shochu is the national alcoholic beverage of Japan that are the components present in hon mirin.
10 best mirin substitutes
After understanding the meaning of mirin, now you can use it in your kitchen armory and start experimenting with its versatility. However, it is uneasy to find pure mirin in your local grocery store. You can’t find it in the shops and markets. Asian grocery stores are the best places where the chances of getting mirin increases.
But it is not guaranteed that you will find the pure product in Asian grocery stores and markets. Tracking hon mirin outside Japan is uneasy. However, hon mirin is rare in Japan due to its long ageing and fermentation process.
So if you can’t find this essential ingredient to add a pinch of Japanese cuisine, then there are various best substitutes that you can use depending on your recipe. Below we are going to show you the best mirin substitutes.
Tamara mirin is one of the best substitutes that can give consistency which is closer to the Hon-mirin. It contains 12% alcohol content. However, you can use sake instead of shochu rice to give a deep flavor.
Moreover, if you are going to use it for marinades and glazes, then it can be one of the best substitutes. You can also use salad dressing recipes and dipping sauces with Takara mirin.
2. Dry sherry
Dry Sherry is made through stimulating dry palomino grapes with brandy and the process of aging. Due to its stiff and acidic flavor, most people use it for cooking. But if you are deciding to use it as a mirin substitute, then you have to use half a tablespoon of sugar for every tablespoon of sherry.
Keep in mind that Dry Sherry is a decent alternative, but the taste of your Japanese cuisine can be different than usual.
Vermouth is also one of the best substitutes and is similar to Dry Sherry. It is an aromatase wine that fortifies with brandy. Vermouth is better for cooking because it is sweetened and infused with herbs and spices. However, you will find the vermouth in two varieties like red and white. The white one is dry and the red is sweet.
If you are deciding to use vermouth as a mirin substitute, then you have to add two tablespoons of sugar for every half a cup of vermouth.
Aji-Mirin means that tastes like mirin. If you are trying to find mirin in your local store, then the chances are you will get Aji-Mirin. However, Aji-Mirin has a lower alcohol content, but sometimes it does not have alcohol content and just sugar depending on the brand.
As we know, it tastes like mirin, but you can use it in your cooking because it will do the best job of adding umami flavor. Keep in mind that Aji-Mirin contains sweeteners and added sugar such as corn syrup. So if you have sugar, then opt for other options.
5. Marsala wine
Marsala wine has rich caramel and nutty taste. However, it is a fortified wine that originated from Sicily. You will find two kinds of marsala wine like dry marsala and sweet marsala wine. Sweet marsala is one of the best replacements for mirin.
However, you can use it for marinating meat and poultry and sauteing vegetables. Moreover, if you are using a sweet marsala wine, then there is no need to add sugar.
6. White wine
As we all know, mirin is a type of wine, so white wine is one of the best mirin substitutes. You can try experimenting with white and dry wine that makes a delicious and fruitier dish.
If you are using it as a substitute, then make sure to add two tablespoons of sugar for every tablespoon of white wine. Try to look for Chardonnay, Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc when it comes to cooking with white wine.
7. White grape juice
Here we have shown the list of mirin substitutes containing alcohol. But some people don’t like to consume alcohol, so white grape juice is a better option that does not have any alcohol content.
Green-skinned grapes used to make white grape juice. However, you can always opt for having white grape juice if you want to replicate the sweetness in your dish. Moreover, you can also add a tablespoon of lemon juice to every cup of white grape juice for better results.
As we all know, mirin is a variation of Japanese rice wine, and sake is one of the best options. Most of people use sake and mirin hand in hand for years. However, some people even call mirin as sweet sake.
Moreover, sake has lower sugar and higher alcohol content that uses as drinking wine. You can use it as a marinade to remove odor from meat and fish. If you want to use sake as an alternative, then you have to add two tablespoons of sugar for every teaspoon of sake.
9. Rice vinegar
Rice vinegar is another non-alcoholic substitute in this list. However, it is a type of misnomer that went through a fermenting process to acetic acid that turns it into vinegar. If you are using rice vinegar to concoct some dipping sauce and dressings, then it is the best substitute for mirin.
Rice vinegar has a slight taste of sweetness, but it contains a sour taste due to vinegar. Therefore, you can add half a teaspoon of sugar for every teaspoon of rice vinegar to counteract the sourness.
10. Apple cider
Apple cider is a fermented juice of apple that contains sugar content. However, it is the best ingredient for cooking due to its earthy and robust taste. If you want to use a replacement for mirin, then apple cider is better than apple cider vinegar.
Moreover, it is best for making soup and broth. Make sure to add salt and sugar and portion it well for better results.
Japanese cuisine is a world filled with delicious discoveries. However, mirin is the common ingredient of all the Japanese dishes. As it is a magnificent ingredient, so it becomes vital that you can rarely get your hands on it. That is why we have shown some mirin substitutes in this article that offer the same quality and taste as mirin.