Mirin is one of the Japanese condiment resembling sake, but has a much higher sugar content. It can be made at home, by adding rice koji to sochu (unflavored distilled liquor, vodka can be used in the U.S.), and let it sit over 6 month. Over time the mixture will be highly alcoholic and sweet. Most of mirin sold at grocery stores contain a small amount of salt in order to make it undrinkable and avoid alcohol tax.

Sake and mirin are not interchangeable, because they are used for different purposes. The thickness and sweetness of mirin is an important property, which sake doesn’t have, to gives a glossiness to teriyaki. On the other hand sake removes the smell of fish or meat, makes food tender, and add depth to flavor. I think mirin affects to the surface of the food, and sake works to deep inside.

Mirin is sold at Japanese grocery stores. For those who would like to order online, here are the links;









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6 Responses to Mirin

  1. Mark Sutter March 3, 2014 at 2:33 am #

    Regarding you page about Mirin – Your mother was probably correct, as traditionally, Mirin was a wine, 12-14% alcohol. The reason you can’t drink the Mirin sold for cooking is that salt is added to avoid the beverage alcohol tax. Also, the traditional methods of brewing have largely been supplanted by factory production methods, adding corn syrup for sweetening, which is never used in the “authentic” product. While the factory product is fine for cooking, if you are using it raw such as in salad dressings, the flavor of a traditional Mikawa Mirin is noticeably better, but it’s pricey and hard to find, even in Japanese markets.

    • Yuki March 3, 2014 at 8:43 am #

      Hi Mark,

      Yes, your comment is absolutely correct. I recently found out that mirin is made from distilled alcohol and rice koji. In Japan, shochu is used for distilled alcohol, vodka can be used in the U.S. It takes several months, but you can make real mirin without that nasty salty flavor. I just haven’t try it on my own, as it seems very costly.

      • Mark Sutter March 3, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

        I just found a Korean Mirin on the shelf. It has 14% alcohol, no salt or corn syrup, and the 1st ingredient is rice! It cost $2.99 for a 500ml. bottle! I think it got into this country “under the radar” as normally an alcohol tax would apply without the salt. On the bottle, it says ” Sweet Cooking Wine”, but the Korean store clerk translated the Korean label as reading “Mirim” (his spelling). The Korean manufacturer is “Rhee Bros. Inc., the Korean Farm”. I’m going to take a taste tonight and compare it to a salted 9% alcohol version I bought yesterday that is made in the U.S and has corn syrup as the first ingredient.

        • Yuki March 3, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

          Hi Mark,

          Thank you for letting me know about Korean mirin! I haven’t thought about trying Korean brand, but I will definitely buy it the next time I go to a Korean grocery store. If it works, it’s wonderful.

          • Mark Sutter March 4, 2014 at 1:23 am #

            The Mirin/Mirim imported by Rhee is actually a product of Lotte, a huge Korean conglomerate. They probably don’t produce it themselves. Just tasted it, it is eminently drinkable, but it’s more like a liqueur, it’s primary characteristic is its sweetness, with not much other distinctive flavor. The other brand is undrinkable, very salty. I did find a Japanese grocer with true Mikara Mirin, with all the correct ingredients, it is selling for $18.99/ 500 ml. !! I may splurge tomorrow.

  2. Mark Sutter March 4, 2014 at 1:28 am #

    Not Mikara, Mikawa, sorry