Mirin is the secret sauce that brings Japanese food to life. Mirin is a condiment used in popular sauces like Teriyaki as a sweetener. Many people who follow a gluten free diet don’t know a lot about Japanese ingredients. If you love Japanese food but need to avoid gluten (which is common in Japanese cooking) it’s a good idea to learn which authentic ingredients are safe for a gluten free diet. After reading this article you’ll know exactly how to tell if the mirin you’re using is gluten free.
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Is Mirin Gluten Free?
Is mirin gluten free? Well, it depends on which kind you buy because not all mirin is created equally. Authentic mirin is naturally gluten free since it is made entirely from rice. However, mirin is time consuming to produce which drives the cost up. Since mirin is a popular ingredient, companies started making synthetic mirin to increase production and lower the price.
What Is Mirin?
Mirin is a subtly sweet Japanese rice wine that is commonly used in Japanese. It’s sweet but has less alcohol then sake. Mirin‘s naturally sweet flavor makes it a good match for soy sauce. Soy sauce and mirin are commonly used together to make sauces like Terrace sauce
What is Aji Mirin?
Aji Mirin is a synthetic (fake) mirin that is commonly found in supermarkets made from sweetened corn syrup with little to no alcohol in it. It’s cheap and highly processed. When you’re buying mirin make sure to stay away from Aji Mirin since it’s just a cheap imitation of the real product which is made from fermented rice wine. The real stuff is called Hon Mirin and it has an alcohol content of about 14%.
Aji Mirin can also be referred to as shio mirin or mirin-fu chomiryo. Aji mirin translates to “tastes like mirin” while Hon Mirin translates to “real mirin.” Always buy real mirin regardless of whether or not you follow a gluten free diet. Real mirin is much healthier and will make the final food product taste better.
How to Tell If You’re Buying Real Mirin?
Aji Mirin and Hon Mirin may not be obviously written on the label of the mirin bottle at the supermarket. The best way to tell the difference is to check the label. If you see any synthetic ingredients like corn syrup then you’re looking at synthetic (aji) mirin. True (hon) mirin will only have rice konji, shochu, or glutinous rice on the nutrition label.
What is Mirin Used For?
Mirin is used as a flavor enhancer for grilled seafood dishes, sushi and teriyaki. It’s used to add a touch of sweetness, add brightness and erase fishy smells from dishes. Mirin is commonly used in sauces like kabayaki (eel sauce), nikiri (mirin soy sauce), and everyone’s favorite teriyaki sauce.
Mirin is also commonly drunk on new years to celebrate since it is sweet with a naturally occurring alcohol content from the fermented rice.
Gluten Free Mirin Brands
(This is synthetic mirin. You don’t want to buy it even though it is gluten free!)