Japanese ingredients for your healthy life

How to use Mirin

Complementary to everything

Mirin is one of the key ingredients in any Japanese kitchen. It is something that is synonymous with the gentle flavours that grace Japanese dishes and will have a place in Japanese dishes always. Mirin is extremely useful in Japanese and indeed western cooking and can offer not only delicious taste to food but much more. Letfs have a look at the wonderful product mirin and how to use it in cooking.


Mirin can add a lot of different elements to Japanese dishes. Mirin is very often added to dishes to strike a balance between all the flavours and soften the dish. Mirin is great when combined with meats and vegetables in stewed dishes like chashu which is a soft pork that is boiled for a long time in seasonings. It is also good in simmered dishes such a okonomiyaki which is a mixture of chicken and egg served on rice. Teriyaki chicken is one of the best examples of how to use mirin effectively, to make it, all you have to do is mix soy sauce, sugar and mirin together and fry with chicken, the inclusion of mirin in this mixture helps to soften the chicken ad the strong tasting soy sauce to create a mild flavour. Most of the time, mirin is bought with as a factory made mirin that has been mass produced and is good enough but the preferred mirin is made in smaller batches and is not blended with anything else so it has an authentic flavour. With using mirin in any dish that doesn't require you to heat it, then you really want to go with a good quality mirin where possible. If, you need lots of mirin and it will be boiled with other food, then if you are on a budget, itfs definitely fine just to go with the cheap version which is good enough.


The great thing about mirin is that is really helps to accentuate the others flavours of a dish. Letfs say we had a recipe that asked for some sugar to be added, then this will of course add sweetness to the dish, with mirin however, it will not only add sweetness but also it will help to bring out the other flavours around it. Mirin has a strong and distinct flavour, so itfs certainly recommended to just use a little bit but in this case a little is a lot!


I certainly recommend using mirin with seafood. Mirin is particularly effective when it is lightly brushed over seafood before grilling. Not only does it improve the taste but it actually helps to reduce any fishy smells that the seafood may have, this makes mirin perfect to add into a marinade. Wherever alcohol is asked for in a recipe for a dish, itfs certainly fine to replace it with mirin and depending on the dish it can really make a difference.

Versatility is the key

Mirin is also useful in western cooking too. Given that it can remove smell and help to soften food, why not use it with mutton. Mutton can have a rather strong smell and taste. If roasted in the over or fried in a pan in mirin it can really help with these aesthetics and really accentuate the natural flavours of the dish.


Mirin is extremely useful with chicken also. One great dish is to make your regular roast chicken but through in a couple of little special ingredients, miso and mirin. Instead of seasoning the chicken with traditional herbs and spices, try mixing some miso and mirin together and painting it over the chicken. The chicken will never end up more tender after this process. Itfs a really good idea to leave it on the chicken for a few hours to act as a kind of marinade. Allowing the chicken to cook in this combination give the chicken an incredible taste and allows for extremely soft meat that just falls off the bones.


Another cute little recipe that can be made is a mushroom side dish that makes use of mirin. To make it, chop up some mushrooms, and fry them in mirin, cloves, butter and a little chicken stock. The result is a very powerful dish that goes very well with potatoes and meats. The mirin allows for the dish to have a nice mirin like flavour and for the mushrooms to soften even more.


Pure mirin has about 14% alcohol and this alcohol allows for some of the wonderful flavours and softening effects. Now we know that pure mirin contains alcohol, and there may be some people who may ask the question eIs it OK to use in cooking for children?h. The straight answer is yes, itfs ok. Because mirin is a cooking seasoning, it is used on the premise that it will be heated up (* caution: it cannot be used as a dressing). Therefore, the alcohol will evaporate when you use it for cooking stews etc where you put enough heat through. It is the same with Teriyaki Chicken; the alcohol would have been evaporated by the time the chicken is thoroughly cooked. It is good to remember that this is a cooking seasoning for cuisine that requires some sound heating time. There is a type of Japanese cuisine called eae-monof which is a type of dish where chopped fish or vegetables are dressed with some sauce, and mirin is used for this. When using mirin for this type of cuisine, you need to cook the mirin so that the alcohol is evaporated before you pour it over as a sauce.


Itfs very true that mirin is a must have item in any kitchen. As we have seen mirin is not only useful for Japanese dishes such as chashu and teriyaki but also western dishes too. The power it has to brighten up a meal and give balance to multiple flavours is quite powerful and special. If you are someone who has always wondered what Japanese ingredients youfre missing out on and would like to try then mirin is truly recommended. If you havenft tried it, head down to your local Japanese supermarket or Asian grocery store today and grab a bottle of mirin and start cooking with it.