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Ohsawa Organic Mirin $12.95 - $19.95

The Kankyo Brewery (whose name means “sweet and strong”) has made its mirin the same way since 1862.

Producers apply koji, a special Japanese rice mold, to steamed sweet rice and let it ferment for 24 hours, just long enough to activate sugar production. Distilled sake is then added to the mixture, which is left to develop the sugars and amino acids that give mirin its characteristic golden hue and silky mouthfeel. After 60 to 90 days, a raw version of the mirin is pressed from the rice mixture and aged for another nine months, finally producing a liquid that is subtly sweet, mellow and full of umami.

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HOW TO USE

Use in any recipe that calls for mirin. Its subtle sweetness acts as a counterpoint to savory ingredients such as soy sauce or miso, and can also play up the sweetness in ingredients such as gochujang or caramelized onions. Mirin adds both sweetness and tang to simple dressings and marinades for vegetables and meat alike. For an all-purpose dipping sauce for noodles or dumplings, make mentsuyu: Simply combine ½ cup each mirin and sake and ¼ cup soy sauce (and if you have either, ½ cup of bonito flakes and 3-inch piece of kombu seaweed). Bring to a simmer, then cool (and strain if adding bonito or kombu); it’ll store indefinitely in the refrigerator. This sauce can also be blended with miso and diluted to serve as a soup base or boiled to concentrate into a savory-sweet glaze.

Kitchen Notes

Cheap mirin can be overly salty and astringent. This balanced and elegant mirin is a pantry must-have.

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