Mirin is a type of Japanese rice wine, similar to Sake but nowhere near not as strong, and with a light syrupy texture. The alcohol content depends on the type you buy and ranges from under 1% to around 14%.
It is likely that the type available at your local supermarket will be almost non-alcoholic however the delectable nectar sweet smooth taste will more or less be the same as an alcoholic version. Mirin is a key ingredient in Japanese cuisine however it can also be used in western cooking as exampled below.
How to use Mirin?
Outside of Japan Mirin is probably best known as one of the main ingredients in Teriyaki sauce, however there are many other occasion where mirin can be used to enhance the flavour or appearance of foods. Here are some ideas on how to use Mirin:
As a natural balancer to soy sauce, mirin can be used in most dishes which also use soy sauce.
Sherry Substitute: Where recipes call for a small quantity of sherry, mirin make a good substitute.
As a seasoning: Mirin can also be used (together with salt and rice vinegar) to season sushi rice where it also gives the rice an extra gloss. They can also be mixed with other ingredients to glaze grilled or baked meat, poultry, fish and vegetables.
In dips and dressings: Mirin is often included in dips for tempura and can be added to many western type salad dressings for a touch of sweetness.
Stir-frying: Mirin is perfect for stir-fried dishes and goes especially well with vegetables, pork, noodles and fish stir fries.
In marinades: Apart from adding extra flavour, Mirin makes certain foods such as tofu firmer which helps it maintain its texture.
Simmering: Mirin can be used to and depth and flavour to oriental style simmered and poached dishes particular fish and tofu dishes.
Sauces: A few dashes of mirin in western style sauces, in particular BBQ types or gravies gives them a lift.
Desserts and cakes: The sweetness of Mirin makes it a natural addition to sweet dishes such as cakes and desserts. Add small amounts to cake batters, glazes and poached fruit.