Brown sugar, which has a moderate flavor, can be used as a substitute for mirin. Piece of Oishi uses brown sugar with the best of intentions. If brown sugar is listed in the ingredients, we do not recommend substituting it with white sugar. White sugar is a seasoning that only adds sweetness. White sugar makes flavoring more difficult, and of course, the finished dish will be completely different. It is not expensive, so I hope you will give brown sugar a try.
You can use baked salt, rock salt, or any unflavored salt. It is an indispensable seasoning for cooking, but like white sugar, it is quite difficult to flavor, so it doesn’t actually appear very often.
We use vinegar, which is the equivalent of grain vinegar in Japan. It is sold for use in pickles in Finland, and is a simple vinegar with no particular flavor other than the smell of vinegar, but it is enough to take advantage of the flavors of other seasonings and ingredients, and to add acidity.
It is no exaggeration to say that sesame oil is one of the strongest aromas to stimulate the appetite. You can buy it in Finnish supermarkets, but I use roasted sesame oil, which is available in Asian markets and has a strong flavor.
No sake or mirin
At Piece of Oishi, we do not use sake or mirin unless it is necessary.
Of course, we understand that sake and mirin have different roles to play, such as removing odors, adding flavor, and so on. We have created the recipes without sake and mirin, because we do not want the hassle and cost of having sake and mirin on hand when living abroad.