Mirin (味醂 or みりん) is an essential condiment used in Japanese cuisine. It is a kind of rice wine similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content. The sugar content is a complex carbohydrate which is naturally formed via the fermentation process and not refined sugar. The alcohol content is lowered even further when the liquid is heated. There are three general types. The first is hon mirin (lit. true mirin), which contains alcohol. The second is shio mirin, which contains alcohol as well as 1.5% salt to avoid alcohol tax. The third is shin mirin (lit. new mirin), or mirin-fu chomiryo (lit. mirin-like seasoning), which contains less than 1% alcohol yet retains the same flavour.
In the Kansai style of cooking, mirin is briefly boiled before using, to allow some of the alcohol to evaporate, while in the Kantō regional style, the mirin is used untreated. Kansai-style boiled mirin is called nikiri mirin (煮切り味醂), literally "thoroughly boiled mirin."
Mirin is used to add a bright touch to grilled (broiled) fish or to erase the fishy smell. A small amount is often used instead of sugar and soy sauce. It should not be used in excess however, as its flavour is quite strong. It is sometimes used as a sushi accompaniment.
See also 
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- Yamaguchi, Roy; Joan Namkoong, Maren Caruso (2003). Hawaii Cooks: Flavors from Roy's Pacific Rim Kitchen. Ten Speed Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-58008-454-3. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- "Diversified uses of Mirin". Taiwan News. Archived from the original on 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
- Telford, Anthony (2003). The Kitchen Hand: A Miscellany of Kitchen Wisdom. Allen & Unwin. p. 153. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Shimbo, Hiroko; Shimbo Beitchman (2000). The Japanese Kitchen: 250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit. Ming Tsai. Harvard Common Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-55832-177-9. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Chiba, Machiko; 千葉真知子, J. K. Whelehan, Tae Hamamura, Elizabeth Floyd (2005). Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers. Kodansha International. p. 12. ISBN 978-4-7700-3003-0. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Gauntner, John (2001-12-31). "An o-tososan a year keeps the doc away". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
- Tsuji, Shizuo; Mary Sutherland, Ruth Reichl, Yoshiki Tsuji (2007). Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. Kodansha International. p. 219. ISBN 978-4-7700-3049-8. Retrieved 2009-01-07.