Can you drink mirin? Well, it’s not meant for drinking, here’s why

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 9, 2022

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Mirin is a cooking rice wine that’s often used in Japanese cooking. It contains alcohol, but not very much.

Can you drink mirin? It is not meant for it, here's why

It’s not meant for people to drink. Instead, it’s intended for seasoning food. Some cooking wines are good enough to drink, but pure mirin is hard to find, and mirin products found at grocery stores contain added sweeteners and preservatives.

Hon mirin is pure mirin. It has an alcohol content of 14%. If you’re looking to drink mirin cooking wine, this is the only kind of mirin that’s drinkable.

Mirin-like condiments taste exactly like pure mirin but have less than 1% alcohol and added ingredients.

This article includes answers to common questions about mirin.

Is mirin drinkable?

There’s a drinkable type of mirin: Hon mirin. As long as the ingredients listed are glutinous rice, rice malt, and shochu, you can drink it.

Mirin with other added ingredients isn’t suitable for drinking.

If you have mirin that says “mirin-like seasoning” on the bottle, it’s not drinkable. You want your mirin to be hon mirin, or pure/real mirin, to drink as a liquor.

What’s mirin?

Mirin is a syrupy liquid used for seasoning, glazing, and tenderizing food and is one of the most popular condiments in Japan. It’s an ingredient that’s commonly used in Japanese recipes.

It’s a type of cooking rice wine that’s similar to sake. Mirin has a lower alcohol content than sake but has a higher sugar content.

No sugar is added to mirin though. The sugar in mirin forms naturally during fermentation. When mirin is heated, the alcohol content goes down.

Japanese sake, as opposed to mirin, is something you can have as a drink. Here’s how to consume it properly

What is mirin used for?

Mirin is an ingredient added to fish to reduce the fishy smell. It’s often served with sushi.

Mirin adds a natural sweet taste to your dish. It can also thicken sauces, making it an excellent choice for marinades and glazes.

What can I make with mirin?

If you’re looking to use mirin in a dish, you can make homemade teriyaki sauce, eel sauce (kabayaki sauce), or sushi rice vinaigrette (sushi su).

You can add mirin to sauces, marinades, and broths to add a sweet, tangy flavor reminiscent of Japanese dishes.

What does mirin taste like?

You’ve probably tasted mirin before, even if you’ve never cooked with it. The sweet yet tangy flavor present in Japanese food is mirin!

Mirin is used in many Japanese dishes, such as teriyaki sauce.

Where can I get mirin?

Pure mirin isn’t usually available in grocery stores. Some grocery stores have aji mirin, which tastes like mirin but usually has added ingredients.

If you’re looking for pure mirin, you may have to buy it online. I personally like the organic mirin from Ohsawa.

What are the different types of mirin?

Mirin comes in 4 types:

  1. Hon mirin
  2. Aji mirin
  3. Mirin-like condiment
  4. Mirin-type condiment

What’s a substitute for mirin?

Mirin can be substituted with 3 parts sake and 1 part sugar.

Honteri is an alcohol-free substitute for mirin. Rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar aren’t good substitutes for mirin; the same goes for the other way around.

What else can mirin be used for?

Mirin can be used as an added ingredient in rice. Mirin can make rice taste better and improve its quality and consistency.

Mirin can also be added to pancake mix in place of milk to thicken the mixture.

You can also use mirin to remove peculiar smells from meat, fish, or canned foods.

Don’t drink mirin

Mirin is a versatile cooking ingredient that adds a sweet, tangy flavor to dishes. But it’s not meant for you to drink! There are better and tastier alcoholic beverages to choose from.

If you’re worried about the alcohol content of mirin while cooking, you can use a mirin-like seasoning, heat up the mirin before adding it to your food, or allow mirin to cook with your dish.

Next, learn all about nikiri sauce (a great recipe & the traditional brushing technique)

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.