Do I Need Mirin for Japanese Cooking? For What Reason?

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Do I need Mirin?

When I lived in Japan, I used mirin and never used mirin-like seasoning, without understanding anything about it.

However, once you go abroad, it’s not so easy. Mirin contains alcohol, so in countries where liquor tax is high, it is a very expensive product, or not available at all.

I brought mirin with me from Japan, but of course it runs out quickly. It is not possible to order mirin from Japan every time.

So, I thought about the role of mirin and its substitutes. In this article, I think about the role of mirin.
By the way, I think brown sugar is the best substitute for mirin. Here’s why.
Brown Sugar is the Best Substitute for Mirin! Why?
You can substitute mirin for brown sugar! Why? How much do I use? What is different from white sugar, honey and raw sugar?

What is Mirin?

Mirin is an alcohol. It contains about 14% alcohol by volume and 40-50% sugar.

In the classification of alcoholic beverages, mirin is classified as a mixed liquor, which is different from either brewed liquor or distilled liquor.

Mixed liquors are brewed liquors or distilled liquors to which flavors are added. Mirin is a mixed liquor made from brewed liquor.

What is the role of Mirin?

Mirin has 4 roles in flavoring.

・To remove odor
・To add flavor
・To add sweetness
・To add umami

In addition, mirin is used to make dishes shiny, to prevent them from falling apart, and to make it easier for flavors to penetrate. However, since there are only a limited number of dishes in which mirin is effective, we will focus on seasoning.

Remove odor

Mirin is made up of about 14% alcohol. When the alcohol evaporates, it also removes odor, similar to cooking sake.

This function is only for hon mirin, which contains alcohol, and cannot be expected from mirin-like seasonings, which contain almost no alcohol.

Add flavor

Mirin has a unique flavor. Not only does it add flavor to food, and it can also be used to cover the odor of food with its flavor.

Add sweetness

40-50% of mirin is sugar. Adding mirin will add sweetness.

Adding Umami Taste

Mirin contains umami ingredients such as glutamic acid and aspartic acid, so adding mirin adds umami.

Add flavor, sweetness, and umami

There are only a limited number of dishes that require to remove odor. So, let’s think of mirin’s role as “adding flavor, sweetness, and umami”.

What Seasoning Add Sweetness and Flavor?

Seasonings can be categorized and thought of as “adding only taste,” “adding taste and flavor,” or “adding only flavor.
3 Types of Seasonings! Know Them and Cook Easier
What is seasoning? Why do we need seasoning? Seasoning makes food delicious. If you know more about seasoning, it helps your cooking a lot!

And mirin is categorized as a “seasoning that adds flavor and flavor”.
So, you can find substitutes for mirin in this category of “seasonings that add taste and flavor”.

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