Is Mirin Gluten-Free?
Yes, mirin is gluten-free and safe for those with gluten intolerances or allergies to consume.
Although, you should be careful as it’s easy to get confused with a different product. Aji-Mirin is sold in some stores and mimics traditional mirin. However, even though it tastes similar, it’s not actually mirin at all. Aji-Mirin contains other additives that traditional mirin doesn’t, and therefore, it could contain gluten.
So, if you see some mirin on the shelf at your local store, you should double-check to see which type you’re buying, as they can be easily mixed up.
Mirin is a rice wine, similar to sake, that’s typically used in Japanese cooking. One of the main differences between mirin and sake is that mirin has a lower alcohol content and a higher sugar content. Depending on which brand you buy, mirin contains around 14% alcohol and 40-50% sugar, whereas sake’s alcohol content is typically anywhere up to 17%.
They also have slightly different uses. While you can use sake for both cooking and drinking, nowadays, mirin is only used for cooking.
Mirin is one of the key ingredients in the famous teriyaki sauce. It can be brushed onto meats like chicken or beef, fish like salmon, or even vegetables, and pair with rice or noodles. Mirin can also be used for other Japanese dishes like salads, noodles, or as a sauce for sushi.
Mirin is sometimes referred to as a sweeter version of sake, but their appearances are different too. Mirin is thicker than sake or rice vinegar, and it’s also amber. Although similar to sake, it still has its own unique qualities.
If you’re cooking an authentic Japanese dish, then mirin is an essential ingredient. If you’ve ever been to Japan or eaten at a true Japanese restaurant, dishes like teriyaki often have a sweetness to them. While you might think that they’ve had sugars added to them, they haven’t. This sweetness actually comes from mirin.
So, where did mirin actually come from? During the Age of the Civil War, Japanese women would mix mirin, which started out as a sweet liqueur, with shochu. At the time, only the rich would consume it, as it was seen as a drink of luxury. It wasn’t until the Edo period that mirin started to be used for cooking.
Mirin is made from mochi rice, which contains more starch than other kinds of rice, and is also what makes mirin so sweet.
Depending on the brand, the ingredients may slightly differ. Let’s look at Yutaka’s mirin for reference.
The ingredients are:
Fermented rice alcohol (Rice, salt, water, alcohol, citric acid, rice malt), spirit vinegar, sugar, glucose syrup, cane molasses, citric acid.
100g of Yutaka’s mirin contains 0.5g fat, 74g carbohydrates, 47g sugar, 0.5g protein, and 318 calories.
Overall, as long as you pick the traditional mirin, often called Hon-Mirin, rather than Aji-Mirin, then it should be safe for you to consume. Make your own authentic Japanese dishes at home and enjoy!