How to avoid poor quality Japanese seasonings – MIRIN

Mirin is sweet rice wine, similar to sake, which is used for cooking.  Even if you’ve never cooked with mirin, you’ve likely tasted it as mirin is a popular seasoning used in many Japanese dishes. For example, it is used when making well-known teriyaki sauces and sukiyaki sauces. Mirin is also used to make dipping sauce for soba noodles and tempura.

In Japan we love eating “NIMONO”, meaning simmered dish, which is a classic Japanese dish using mirin combined with sake and soy sauce.  Anything from fish to vegetables and meat is commonly cooked in this way with the same combinations of sauce, so mirin is certainly an essential Japanese ingredient.

Due to its popularity, there are many “FAKE” kinds of mirin that are available both in and outside of Japan. There are two general types of mirin:

Hon mirin (literally: true / genuine mirin), which is a naturally fermented sweet rice wine. It is manufactured from sweet rice and rice koji ( culture that also used for miso, soy sauce and rice vingar)

Genuine mirin contains approximately 14% alcohol but to avoid alcohol tax, small amount of water and salt are added for cooking mirin.  THIS IS WHAT WE WANT! This is my favourite … Japanese_Cooking_Class_Mirin_1 only made from sweet BROWN rice, koji, well water and sea salt (not just table salt!).

Mirin-fu chomiryo: (literally: mirin-like seasoning), which contains less than 1% alcohol and filled with sugars – SUPER CHEAP to make




This mirin contains rice vinegar ….



Don’t get confused with “HON” meaning genuine/ true Japanese_Cooking_Class_Mirin_4_honteri


It is mirin style…  not genuine


This mirin is about $5 at supermarket. One would usually pay approximately $8 for genuine mirin.  If you do decide to buy the cheaper mirin, simply add sugar when cooking at home… it is much simpler and cheaper (I wouldn’t recommend though for your health and beauty!) This is another bad type of mirin that is widely available in supermarkets and Asian grocery shops Japanese_Cooking_Class_Mirin_6_obento

This is around $3 since it is a product of Thailand and therefore not genuine. Ingredients: Glucose Syrup, Fructose Syrup, Water, Fermented Rice Seasoning, Soy Sauce, Preservative (E211). By the way, it says ” HON MIRIN” ( I know you can’t read but it is stated as hon mirin at the back in English) but it does contain sugar…


Ingredients: Glutinous Rice (from Japan, Thailand), Rice Koji (from Japan), Alcohol, Saccharides ( another term for sugar)

Why does this mirin have to add sugar?Because you can cut cost and time by reducing the amount of rice and rice koji added and cut fermentation time …

Basically, companies love making products CHEAPLY AND QUICKLY! then why can this mirin call itself HON MIRIN? – because it contains a MINIMUM AMOUNT of koji and rice, which is used so that it can be called “HON MIRIN”.  Sneaky! DON’T BE FOOLED BY ORGANIC LABEL We tend to think if the products are organic, they are all fabulous but I know there are organic mirin that is filled with organic sugar…



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