What is Mirim (Cooking Rice Wine) ?
Mirim is a cooking wine that enhances the flavor of a dish. The reason for using wine in cooking is because the alcohol in the wine works to bring out the flavor from the dish.
Mirim is a rice wine similar to sake, sometimes with lower alcohol content and a mostly higher level of sugar. It is also commonly used in meat marinades like Bulgogi and Kalbi. It helps to tenderize and remove unpleasant odors from raw meat and fish.
Not To Be Confused With
Soju (소주) or Sake although there is cooking sake that's sweeter than regular sake. Soju and regular (less sweet) sake can be substituted with some added sugar.
Also, Rice Vinegaer ≠ Rice Wine. Please don't use rice vinegar instead of mirim/mirin.
Where and What To Buy
Korean or Asian grocery store, online, Amazon. This is the most common Korean brand that's sold in the US - it's Lotte Mirim (미림). Mirim has 14% alcohol content which is among the highest amount of alcohol. Lower alcohol is not terrible but what it usually means is that it will not have the same effect of enhancing the flavor.
So try to buy ones that don't start with Glucose Syrup (like Aji-Mirin) but buy ones that say it contains some amount of rice fermentation and alcohol.
How to Use/Cook
Use Mirim or Matsul (or Mirin) as white wine in meat marinades, fish stews, fish jorims, anchovy broth and sauces. It helps to dilute the sauce while it removes unwanted fishiness or gamey flavors from proteins.
Note that it contains a significant amount of sweetness so remember that dish will get sweeter with each addition.
You can substitute with - white grape juice + water or apple juice + water if you don't want to use alcohol.
How to Clean/Store
Store in a cool place. It is very stable and will last for months to years. Some say it's good in the pantry up to 50 months.
- Mirim can contain up to 14% alcohol. If you cook the sauce, most of the alcohol will evaporate.
- Mirim is also high in sugar content.