I generally don’t drink. I don’t care for beer, hate wine, and am disinclined to mix my own drinks or frequent bars. It’s just not my thing. I do keep a couple bottles of inexpensive wine, sherry, and – aha – mirin just for cooking, though. So today let’s talk about mirin!
It’s a sweet rice wine. I don’t believe it’s commonly used as a beverage, certainly not in the form sold in most US supermarkets, but it is a pretty common ingredient in sauces and marinades that take some cues from Japanese cooking.
Today I used it to make a teriyaki sauce, where it lends its characteristic sharp sweetness to the saltiness of soy sauce and bright, punchy fresh ginger and garlic. Well, OK, and there’s actual sugar in there, too, but whatever. Plain sugar in teriyaki sauce would not be the same!
The teriyaki sauce became the base for some baked tofu, of course, but that’s not all! I spooned a little into a pan with a little water, rice vinegar, and 1” pieces of kabocha squash and let it simmer. I mixed a few more spoonfuls with some ground-up black sesame seeds to make a thick, tangy paste to stir into steamed chopped kale. This trio of mirin-tinged delights found themselves in a bowl with short-grain brown rice, avocado, scallion, and more black sesame seeds for a delightful teriyaki bowl dinner. Mmmm, mmmm.