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mirin


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#1 helenjp

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 05:04 PM

I thought I was hallucinating, but there it was...what SEEMS to be a properly made mirin, actually in the supermarket...

Takara "Yuuki Hon-Mirin" (organic mirin). Ingredients list: Organic glutinous rice, organic rice kouji, organic rice shouchuu.

I cannot remember when I last saw a bottle of mirin with those and only those ingredients listed, and it certainly wasn't in a supermarket.

Takara, with the osechi season coming up, you gave me a great Christmas present! :raz:

#2 torakris

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 03:51 PM

Let us know how it tastes! :biggrin:

There was a fascinating article in my newspaper (Asahi Shimbun) a couple weeks ago about mirin that is drunk like wine, I didn't think too many people would be interested but you might:

http://be.asahi.com/...8/W23/0006.html
(Japanese only)

Now I want some of that stuff! :biggrin:

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#3 torakris

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 03:56 PM

and for those that may be unfamiliar with mirin, here are the various types (pulled out of the daily nihongo thread):


word for 6/24:

みりん
mirin (mee-reen)
this is often called sweet rice wine in English, it is essentially made from rice, distilled alcohol and very heavy on the sugar, it is an essential ingredient to Japanese cooking. It is used for both the sweetness it lends and the glaze or sheen that it gives to foods.
The problem with mirin is that there are many types out there, but only one that you want to be using.

本みりん hon-mirin, this is the real stuff! this is what you want to look for, this can often be located in the alcohol section because of it high (13% to 17%) alcohol content. It will cost you more then the fake stuff, but it is more then worth it. The ingredients should read rice, distilled alcohol, and sugar (and if you are really lucky there will be no sugar added).

The fakes
味みりんaji-mirin, this is probably the most commonly seen, sold near the soy and vinegar
新みりんshin-mirin, haven't seen this one too much recently
みりん風 mirin -fu, this seems to be the new one
these are normally made with corn syrup and other additives, some can have as little as 1% alcohol

Edited by torakris, 17 February 2004 - 03:57 PM.

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#4 smallworld

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 08:50 PM

本みりん hon-mirin, this is the real stuff! this is what you want to look for, this can often be located in the alcohol section because of it high (13% to 17%) alcohol content. It will cost you more then the fake stuff, but it is more then worth it. The ingredients should read rice, distilled alcohol, and sugar (and if you are really lucky there will be no sugar added).

For the longest time I thought my local supermarkets didn't carry hon-mirin, but a few months ago, after reading about it in your Daily Nihongo thread, I checked the alcohol section and there it was.
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#5 helenjp

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 12:25 AM

Yeah, and THIS one had "shouchuu" instead of "processed alcohol" (forget the exact word, was it "jouzou alcohol"???).

Don't know exactly how much difference it makes, a thing called "Aji no Haha", while technically a "mirin-fuu choumi-ryou", actually has a better taste than some straight hon-mirin that I've tasted. I think the aji-mirin were originally designed to get around liquor selling laws which made it impossible to sell sake and mirin in supermarkets...unless you added a little salt and called it a seasoning instead of an alcoholic drink!!

...Wonder if good mirin is more available in Kansai? When I used to live there 20+ years ago, people still bought good mirin to make "o-toso" sake and herbs for New Year's Day breakfast!

#6 torakris

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 04:43 PM

Yeah, and THIS one had "shouchuu" instead of "processed alcohol" (forget the exact word, was it "jouzou alcohol"???).

Interesting!
jouzou alcohol (醸造アルコール)is what I usually see on honmirin, I am going to to the store to buy some of this shouchuu stuff!
I am also going to start paying more attention to the mirin at my next trip to the store. :biggrin:

Edited by torakris, 09 January 2004 - 05:16 PM.

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#7 torakris

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 05:03 PM

in a different thread v.gautum asked:


Would you know of a way to homebrew a liter or three of mirin from brown rice? My very limited reading suugests that the rice is steamed and cultured with a specific koji, then grain alcohol is added somewhere in the process, and there is a fermentation which engenders the sweetness characteristic of mirin. Sake seems to be made of polished rice, with no additions of spirits. Hiroko shimbo wrote of some artisanal manufacturers of mirin, but one would suspect that their products are confined to Japan? Thanks much. gautam.

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#8 torakris

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 05:14 PM

I was going to post in this thread today (before gautum asked his question!) because yesterday I splurged on a nice bottle of 3 year old mirin and the difference is incredible! The color is almost a dark amber compared to a pale gold of regular hon-mirin and it really tastes so good it is almost drinkable.

The ingredients list mochi rice, rice kouji and shouchu.

I don't know too much about the process of making mirin but I will see what I can find out.

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#9 torakris

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 05:31 PM

found this on making mirin:

http://www.geocities...1751/mirin.html

It uses the "sticky" rice (mochi rice) rather than brown though.....

EDIT
the same site has directions for making kouji as well as places in the US to order it:
http://www.geocities.../1751/koji.html

Edited by torakris, 09 January 2004 - 05:33 PM.

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#10 torakris

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 05:47 PM

This place looks like a good source for a nice mirin (Japan made and fermented over one year) in the US, and organic to boot:

http://www.qualityna...m/recipes2.html

this links to a nice article about mirin, then look at their product list under vinegars/mirin, the mirin they sell Mikawa mirin is a very reputable maker here in Japan.

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#11 torakris

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 05:57 PM

a picture of the regular honmirin (left) and the 3 year stuff (right)

Posted Image

Edited by torakris, 09 January 2004 - 06:02 PM.

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#12 helenjp

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 05:46 AM

3 year mirin...well, well! I heard from old ladies when I first came to Japan that the women of their mothers and grandmothers generations drank mirin in small amounts -- it was for some reason more genteel than drinking sake!

And I remember reading a novel by Ariyoshi Sawako about postwar Tokyo, describing the heroine's mother blithely disregarding necessities to secure a good sweet sake or mirin (can't remember which) which she used as a skin lotion!

#13 Pan

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Posted 10 April 2004 - 12:21 AM

Is the main difference between mirin and sake that sake is not as sweet and isn't made from glutinous rice?

#14 torakris

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Posted 10 April 2004 - 06:22 PM

sort of

Mirin is usually made using distilled liquor like shochu, which can be made with a variety of ingredients though commonly potatoes or rice. Normally the higher the price the better the alcohol that was used as a base. Some mirin makers will just purchase the cheap shochu from a distiller while the more traditional mirin producers will actually make their own shochu from scratch and use that as the base. To this they add steamed sweet rice and some koji and then let it ferment, the resulting product is mirin.

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#15 Hiroyuki

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Posted 10 April 2004 - 06:32 PM

I guess Pan is referring to hon mirin, then the answer is yes.

But I'm satisfied with みりん風調味料 mirin-fu chomiryo.

My mother once gave me a bottle of hon mirin. I was excited and used it to make my "maho no furikake" (magic furikake). No difference at all!!

Maho no furikake? It's in the furikake thread.

#16 Hiroyuki

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 03:25 AM

So, uh, no updates from anyone?
I continue to use fake mirin, and I'm quite satisfied with it.

#17 JasonTrue

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 10:34 AM

The mirin I can get is only about 6.9% alcohol, but it makes a world of difference in kakejiru or nimono compared to the "mirin-fuu" stuff.

However, I'm particularly sensitive to high-fructose corn syrup and glucose-heavy sweeteners because I primarily use minimally processed cane sugar. I suspect not everyone notices the difference as markedly.

The aroma from the better mirin is also better, but there are some dishes where I don't care that much; these would be things where, if it weren't for my abundance of the fake mirin someone gave me, I would have just used sugar.

So, uh, no updates from anyone?
I continue to use fake mirin, and I'm quite satisfied with it.

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#18 Sencha

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 11:11 AM

Hon-mirin...I love the stuff, but it's not something I find too often now.
You can still make good food with the fake stuff, but there's something special about food prepared with hon-mirin.
Well, fake mirin has its place though. Even fake mirin is better than using white sugar.

#19 EdS

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Posted 06 August 2005 - 10:58 PM

The mirin I can get is only about 6.9% alcohol, but it makes a world of difference in kakejiru or nimono compared to the "mirin-fuu" stuff.
...

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Jason, you might want to see if you can track down some Hakusan Mirin. It goes for about $6 for a good size bottle. There's a distributor list at that web site. This mirin is made in Napa along with their sake. It actually seems to be somewhat drinkable if you are into frou-frou sweet drinks which I am not. I could see how this could pass for a ladies drink in the past in Japan, as is my understanding. I comparison tasted this with some corn syrup mirin. There's a noticeable improvement so I'm sold on hon-mirin. Unfortunately, my local "gourmet" grocery store has decided to stop carrying this :angry: :angry: :angry: so I'll either have to find it elsewhere or maybe I'll try the other hon-mirin listed above which I've seen at Whole Foods.

Strangely, my Japanese grocery has great fish, Washington wagyu beef, California jidori chicken, fresh tofu, maybe 30 types of imported shoyu and even more types of sake and miso, but no hon-mirin!!! I guess most people don't care so it's a low priority. Is it like this in Japan too?

Edited by esvoboda, 06 August 2005 - 11:31 PM.


#20 helenjp

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 02:11 AM

Err...Hiroyuki, I think if you are using your mirin to make furikake, it probably doesn't matter what you use to get the "sweet" component of your sweet/salty furikake. But I think it does matter in nimono or more lightly flavored dishes.

#21 Hiroyuki

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 02:31 AM

Err...Hiroyuki, I think if you are using your mirin to make furikake, it probably doesn't matter what you use to get the "sweet" component of your sweet/salty furikake. But I think it does matter in nimono or more lightly flavored dishes.

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I don't hesitate to say that I'm not a serious cook. I use a considerable amount of mirin, sorry, FAKE mirin, for various uses, to make light cucumber pickles yesterday and to make pork shouga yaki this evening, for example, and I really don't think that hon mirin can have a place in my house. I don't think it's worth the price.

#22 helenjp

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 03:34 AM

Maybe it's not quite fair to line up "mirin-fuu" products which often contain salt or other seasonings with the other mirin-lookalikes...I've used Aji no Haha, and would use it again if our local shops stocked it, and from memory that was a blend of fake mirin, sake, and salt....but I wouldn't want to be without real, good mirin, because there are dishes where I'd rather use that than sugar. Our New Year's kinton is made with mirin, because it's much less sickly that way...but you're right, it's pricey, so it takes a special occasion to ditch the sugar or the fake mirin and get that expensive little bottle out...

#23 EdS

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 12:13 PM

I didn't realize the price of hon-mirin was that much more than the mirin with corn syrup but there seems to be so little of it here that I don't have much data to go on.

#24 peter_nyc

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 05:42 PM

Is this the good stuff? I can't read the Japanese...

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#25 torakris

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 05:56 PM

almost....

I was not familiar with that brand so I looked it up and the first clue was the price, 1L was selling for under 300 yen ($3). One of the sites described it as mirin-fu choumiryo (seasoning), but it does have alcohol content of 8.5% which is better than the other mirin-fu products at 1-2%.
My hon-mirin has 12.5 to 13.5% alcohol.

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#26 peter_nyc

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 05:59 PM

almost....

I was not familiar with that brand so I looked it up and the first clue was the price, 1L was selling for under 300 yen ($3).  One of the sites described it as mirin-fu choumiryo (seasoning), but it does have alcohol content of 8.5% which is better than the other mirin-fu products at 1-2%.
My hon-mirin has 12.5 to 13.5% alcohol.

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The ingredients (translated into English on a suspicious stick on label) are:

rice
rice koji
sugar
alcohol (8.5%)
salt

How adverse an effect will using this stuff intead of hon-mirin have on my food? Specifically on ikura which I purchased this explictly for.

#27 torakris

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 06:28 PM

almost....

I was not familiar with that brand so I looked it up and the first clue was the price, 1L was selling for under 300 yen ($3).  One of the sites described it as mirin-fu choumiryo (seasoning), but it does have alcohol content of 8.5% which is better than the other mirin-fu products at 1-2%.
My hon-mirin has 12.5 to 13.5% alcohol.

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The ingredients (translated into English on a suspicious stick on label) are:

rice
rice koji
sugar
alcohol (8.5%)
salt

How adverse an effect will using this stuff intead of hon-mirin have on my food? Specifically on ikura which I purchased this explictly for.

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how does it taste? That should be the deciding factor. Upthread Jason mentions one he likes with a 6% alcohol content, I am worried though of the addition of salt and sugar. The ikura should be fine, there is really only a bit of mirin in it, it is only there to add the sweetness. Many people cook fine dishes with the fake stuff. :biggrin: The dishes were it is most noticeable are the dishes that really rely on it, like the kinton Helen mentioned or some simmered dishes.

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#28 scott123

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 05:16 AM

From what I can tell, all mirin, regardless of the level of quality, is sweet, with the sweetness coming from either rice or added sugar. Is that correct?

Is there a way of approximating the taste of mirin with other ingredients? For health reasons, I can't have anything with sugar, either cane sugar or naturally occuring sugars.

When I make my teriyaki, I use artifical sweeteners for the sugar component and they work wonderfully, but I feel like I might be missing something by omitting the mirin.

#29 Hiroyuki

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 03:08 PM

From what I can tell, all mirin, regardless of the level of quality, is sweet, with the sweetness coming from either rice or added sugar. Is that correct?

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Yes. As for real mirin, which takes two to three years to make, the sweetness comes from mochi gome (glutinous rice). As for hon mirin, which takes about 40 days to make, the sweetness comes from additives such as sugars and mizuame.

Is there a way of approximating the taste of mirin with other ingredients? For health reasons, I can't have anything with sugar, either cane sugar or naturally occuring sugars.

In Japan, it is said that the combination of sake (Japanese rice wine) and sugar can be used as a substitute for mirin. I can't think of any other substitute.

When I make my teriyaki, I use artifical sweeteners for the sugar component and they work wonderfully, but I feel like I might be missing something by omitting the mirin.

If you feel that way, it's because mirin contains nine or more different types of sugar. I use fake mirin myself, and I'm quite satisfied with it.

#30 scott123

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 11:12 PM

Nine or more types of sugar, wow!

Thank you, that's very helpful and informative.