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Question about mirin: I can't find mirin but can find sake. Is there a significant difference between the two?

I've used sake for years in stir fries, but I wonder if I'm missing out on something. This is not urgent, just something I'm curious about. Thanks!

asked by The Principal Cook over 1 year ago
11 answers 1154 views
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Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 1 year ago

Most supermarkets have mirin in the Asian section. It's often called "Aji Mirin". It gives a bit of glaze sweetness to stir fries---you can sub a bit of sugar mixed with sake.

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Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 1 year ago

Mirin is a little sweeter. I use the unseasoned version. The seasoned version is salty. I'm always just as happy using sake.

730e314f caf5 438f 9a9a 998057ffb9ff  20151109 150352
Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 1 year ago

Here's a good description of mirin.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org...

2952b175 586d 4f22 a09b 32145fae8cf2  beijing hotpot
added over 1 year ago

Thanks for the quick response. I hope I'll find mirin when I look again for it, but I'm not optimistic, as I've been looking very intentionally for years. So if I want to sweeten sake to approximate mirin, how much sugar should I use? I normally only use a couple of tablespoons, but how much sugar should I use per cup of sake?

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Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 1 year ago

I just went and tasted mine. It's actually very sweet. The sweetness comes from the natural fermentation. I would look for a sweeter sake instead if you have that option. If you don't want to do that, I'd guess maybe 2-3 tbs sugar per cup of sake? Yes, it was that sweet. I know mine is a good one because the lady who owns the Asian grocery with her husband where I shop uses this one.

0a62c55f 38bb 4f00 aefc 1de6685070d9  stringio
added over 1 year ago

Mirin is like corn syrup. Nothing at all like sake.

730e314f caf5 438f 9a9a 998057ffb9ff  20151109 150352
Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 1 year ago

It's a rice cooking wine and the sugar is from natural fermentation, so it's nothing like corn syrup. A sweetened sake is a fine substitute.

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added over 1 year ago

Purists will say yes, but I would only say that's true if you are very familiar with the flavor of a particular recipe and want to be very consistent. Sake will work in a pinch. It is very difficult to find good mirin in the USA, even in Japanese specialty shops. The most common one is carried at Whole Foods Markets from Eden, but usually it is upwards of $8 for an 11 fl. oz bottle. My preferred brand is the Mikawa mirin from Mitoku, which you can find from various specialty purveyors online. If you find that you are cooking Japanese cuisine often, I would invest in a bottle of the real stuff. Ni Japanese Deli in NYC carries a full line of authentic Japanese ingredients - are incredibly helpful, and would probably ship non-perishable items within the USA if you contact them via phone or e-mail.

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2952b175 586d 4f22 a09b 32145fae8cf2  beijing hotpot
added over 1 year ago

Thank you, everyone, for all of the advice. I'll continue to look for mirin, but until then, I'll add sugar to sake until I find some.

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Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 1 year ago

Amazon has a good selection if you can't find it locally.

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QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

added over 1 year ago

There is a certain kind of earthy sweetness in mirin, that sake + sugar combination does not have. I am almost tempted to say, although it will sound like a terrible blasphemy, that you are better off adding a touch of sweet vermouth to sake. Or maybe a tiny drop of mild honey.
Sake and mirin work so well together, because mirin provides that subtle flavor and distinct sweetness, while dry sake cuts into it and balances it out. I feel that you might achieve that effect better by adding a touch of vermouth, than sweetening sake with sugar.