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Mirin is a primary ingredient in Japanese cooking and a common condiment used in many Asian dishes, and while it might not form part of your essential ingredient arsenal you've more than likely tasted it in dishes like teriyaki and stir-frys.
Whole Foods predict it to be one of the hottest food trends for 2017 in Fortune. So we took the opportunity to take a closer look at why it might be making an appearance in your condiment cupboard soon: what is mirin, what does it taste like, how is it made, and how can it be used in the kitchen?
What Is Mirin?
Mirin is the golden to light amber coloured sweetened sake or rice wine with a low alcohol content and a light syrupy texture, commonly used in Japanese cooking.
There are three general types of mirin ranging from hon mirin at 14% alcohol, shio mirin at 1.5% and shin mirin with less than 1% of alcohol yet with the same flavour.
With its mild sweet tangy flavour it compliments other saltier umami packed condiments commonly used in Asian cooking like soy sauce or tamari.
How is Mirin Made?
Watch one of Japan's remaining artisanal companies, which at over 150-years-old, continues the artisanal tradition of making mirin by hand using the highest quality koji rice, which is aged for three years in order to achieve a deeper and milder flavoured mirin.
Cooking with Mirin
Mirin is often the secret ingredient that lends a characteristic flavour to Japanese soups and broths.
It's mild sweetness adds extra depth to sauces and dishes, making it ideal for sauteeing and stir-fys, and simmering ingredients.
Along with soy sauce, this sweet wine is one of the main ingredients in traditional teriyaki sauce, as well as a perfect ingredient in the dipping sauce for tempura.
However, its use is not restricted purely to Asian cookery, as the qualities of mirin mean it can be successfully incorporated into Western recipes, particularly as a marinade for fish or meat or even experimented with in desserts.
Gourmet Recipes with Mirin
Try your hand at cooking with mirin in these two chef-created recipes that highlight the ingredient's versatility by using it in these contemporary recipes.
Milanese chef Roberto Okabe shares his recipe for a haute cuisine appetiser where foie gras, mirin and sake, dashi and eggs form the bed on which the tuna tartare is placed.
Australian chef Soren Lascelles uses mirin in the lamb marinade of this succulent and rich glazed roast lamb recipe with a side of eggplant caviar and tomato gel.