Mirin is a prime example of a highly versatile, authentic Japanese ingredient. Initially developed in the Edo period as a sweet sake for drinking (in fact, so sweet and elegant that even ladies were allowed to drink it!), it is now widely used in Japanese cuisine to enhance, sweeten and balance flavours. It has a mellow and sweet umami flavour with a syrupy texture that makes it delicious as a dessert wine, too.
Mikawa is a region renowned for its mirin production; the mild climate and clear, soft water make it the ideal location. Sumiya-Bunjiro Shoten are award-winning mirin producers based in Mikawa, since the early 1900s. Now in the third generation of the Sumiya family, at the core of the business is a passion for high quality ingredients, from land that is well cared for.
So, how do Sumiya-Bunjiro Shoten make their 100% natural mirin?
True mirin, Hon Mirin, has a very similar ingredient list to sake; rice, water and koji. In place of sake rice, a sweet glutinous rice is used as part of a traditional technique from ancient Japan which, coupled with the shochu spirit that is added to the ferment, is what makes this mirin so special.
The shochu is made first, which involves a distillation process resulting in a liquid that is around 40% alcohol. This is then steamed with the sweet rice and koji-cultured rice before being left to ferment for 2-3 months. The liquid that is pressed after fermentation is referred to as young mirin, it is transferred to large tanks and allowed to age for about 9 months during which time the flavour matures and mellows while the colour turns amber.
There are other types of mirin available, and some imitation products, but we believe in delivering the best quality, and this pure and natural mirin is most definitely that!
What can I use mirin for?
Rich in umami, mirin can be added to a plethora of recipes, particularly broths, dressings and dips to enhance the flavour. Its delicate sweetness is very good at balancing savoury flavours, such as salty soy sauce. It makes a wonderful marinade for meat and fish, retaining the firmness and natural juices – don’t leave it for too long though as it can toughen fibres, especially in vegetables.
In order to truly appreciate the complex flavours of mirin, we highly recommend trying it as a drink – enjoy in a cocktail or neat like a liqueur. You can even pour a little over ice cream for a real sweet treat!