Mirin

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Joined Jan 11, 2002
I'm starting practising Japanese cooking, and realize that living in Italy is an advantage for the availability of fresh food (mainly fish, shellfish and seafood...) but NOT for the preserved items since it's very hard to find Japanese products (and it's better to forget the prices:( ).
The odds are I'll have a lot of problems about this point, but the first one is that I couldn't find Mirin anywhere (and, in any case, I've never had it and don't know which is its taste)
So, I wonder which type of wine could be the best substitute for it. I'm using now that Mass Wine I once quoted in a thread (a sort of Marsala, but sweeter, lighter and with a clear, golden color) but apart from the fact I don't know if it really tastes AT LEAST a bit like Mirin, I have only a half bottle left.
So, could you help me?

Thanks in advance!

Pongi
 
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Joined Jul 31, 2000
Pongi,

Mirin is a sweet sake, made from rice. It really has a unique charactor of it's own,but what I would recommend is using a very dry sherry mixed with a little sugar and 5 spice powder (if you can find it)..if not, the dry sherry and sugar will work fine.

If you can find sake,then use that with some sugar
Good luck
cc
 

phatch

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Staff member
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I've always heard dry sherry too. But CC's additions are new to me. Have to remember them for next time.

Phil
 
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Joined Apr 19, 2001
Dry sherry and sugar would work, but CC, 5-spice powder??!! Beautiful use of creative license, yes - traditional, no! 5-spice powder is Chinese; the Japanese use very little spices in their cooking; most of the dishes are seasoned with the shoyu/dashi/vinegar and/or sugar trinity, to allow for the maximum natural flavor of the food to shine through.

If you can't find it locally, try here for an online shopping source:

http://www.orientalfood.com/shopping


Mirin adds such a subtle flavor and sweetness, that sherry can't mimic, even tho it's close. It 'softens' the shoyu and adds the glistening 'glaze' to dishes like teriyaki.

Let me know if you'd like any specific traditional Japanese dishes, I have a pretty big rescource library, and learned 'at the feet' of my Japanese friends!

I was just thinking that Japanese food is a lot like Italian, in its preserving the flavor of the ingredients, and the use of absolutely fresh products.
 
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Joined May 26, 2001
Another online source is http://www.asiafoods.com . This is one that Kimmie mentioned for equipment, but they have food products as well. They have mirin in different size bottles, and Chinese cooking wine as well.
 
467
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Joined Jan 11, 2002
Thanks guys for the advice!

One thing more: since Chinese items are pretty easily available here, could any Chinese wine substitute Mirin?

marmalady, thanks also for your offer of japanese recipes! No doubt I'll ask you for them when I'll have more experience...
As for the similarities between Italian and Japanese food, to tell the truth they're not so strict (apart from Tempura, but it comes from the Portuguese...) since the Italian cooking, although based on fresh ingredients, uses to mix flavours and tastes instead of keeping them separated like the Japanese do.
Actually the Japanese is probably the cooking tasting more "exotic" to the italian palates...;)

Pongi
 
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Joined Jul 31, 2000
Pongi....

The Chinese have a rice wine called "Shaohsing" sp? that is pretty close to Mirin as it is sweentened a touch.
 
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Joined Apr 19, 2001
Shaoxhing wine is very sharp and acidic when compared to mirin, as are most Chinese products when compared to Japanese.

Mirin imparts a very subtle flavor to the finished product, and the sugar in the mirin helps with the glaze effect on a cooked product. Shaoxhing on the other hand, can always be recognized in the finished product as a sharp, winey taste.

My suggestion, if you absolutely can't get mirin, would be to use an apple cider vinegar that's watered down just a little and mixed with a touch of sugar.


The same is true if you taste a Chinese rice wine vinegar next to a Japanese version. The Chinese is very sharp and biting, and the Japanese is smooth and subtle.

Sorry, Brad - Maybe there'll be some tastings at the FFS?!!;)
 
467
10
Joined Jan 11, 2002
Thanks again CC and Marmalady!

BTW, I'm just using an apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar, does it make sense?

I have also checked the two links you mentioned and feel just the same of you when buying fresh Porcini in US:cry:
The few Japanese items I have found here cost at least twice than online, sometimes much more (an example? $8 for a 5 sheets Nori package:mad: ) so I must check how much is the shipping fee if I buy online...or come back to Indian and Moroccan cooking ;)

Pongi
 
1,046
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Joined Apr 19, 2001
Pongi, I know how you feel about the cost of ingredients, and how frustrating it is not to be able to find something you want to try out!

Depending on the brand of nori, you'll see $8 for a package here in the oriental supermarkets in the US, also.

The apple cider vinegar should work, watered down and sugared just a little. The taste you're after should barely be acidic, with a little sweetness to it.
 
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Joined Jul 31, 2000
Dear marmalady,

No need to be sorry :) The best thing about this place is being able to learn new things...

To me the oriant is so mysterious from it's cultures, history and cooking traditions.

You know to a classicly trained chef, you need to start at the begining again when studying Asian cuisine, it's foundation is so unique.

Pongi, have you ever had the good fortune to cook with a high quility Sherry vinegar? it imparts a wonderful flavor
 

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