Mirin is a Japanese rice wine used as a condiment or flavor additive, rather than a beverage. It has a slightly acidic taste but is also very sweet. When you need a substitute for mirin, find an ingredient that offers a dry sweetness with a hint of acidity.
Sake is another Japanese rice wine, but unlike mirin, sake is used for cooking and for drinking. Substitute 1 part mirin with 2 parts heated sake and 1 part sugar. As a substitute, sake gives the most mirin-like taste in your final product.
Sherry wines come in a variety of flavors and colors, ranging from sweet to rich to dry. Dry sherry isn't very sweet and has a stiff, acidic flavor that makes it suitable for cooking. Use a dry sherry wine in place of mirin in equal proportions, or measure 1 tablespoon of dry sherry and a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar for every 1 tablespoon of mirin for a sweeter, more representative substitute.
White Wine Works
A dry white wine may offer acidic flavor without too much sweetness. Select a Chardonnay or Sauvignon blanc and use it in equal proportions to mirin. You may notice a slightly fruitier taste in your final product.
Go With Vinegar
Mirin has a small amount of alcohol. If you're looking for a nonalcoholic substitute, vinegar is a suitable replacement. Rice wine vinegar offers a similar taste to mirin, but any white wine or distilled white vinegar will work. Use 1 tablespoon vinegar and a 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar for every 1 tablespoon of mirin. The type of vinegar you use determines your final product. For example, the vinegar flavor might be more pronounced with distilled vinegar, while it might be more subtle if you use white wine or rice wine vinegars.
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