What is Hon Mirin?
In our previous article that covers about mirin, we learned that there is one type of mirin called hon mirin, which could be used not only for condiment but also as liquor.
So what is hon mirin?
Hon mirin (本みりん), or so called pure mirin or real mirin, is said to be the best quality Japanese sweet rice cooking wine (mirin).
The taste of hon mirin can be described to have a subtle sweetness like rice wine. It can give a gourmet taste if used as a cooking condiment.
It should only have 3 ingredients: glutinous rice, rice koji (malt), and shochu (Japanese distilled alcohol).
Hon mirin is characterized to have high alcohol content (around 14 percent) and 0 percent salt content. Thus it can be classified as a liquor.
Furthermore, hon mirin is produced without sugar. Mirin’s sweetness naturally formed during the saccharification process, with the help of rice koji’s enzyme. The enzymes of koji break down complex carbohydrates and proteins into amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars. Because of that, the quality of rice koji is becoming one of the secrets for making high-quality hon mirin.
Due to the saccharification and aging process, hon mirin will have a golden color with syrupy consistency. Hon mirin is properly aged for 3 months to 6 months (and sometimes longer).
If you want to learn more detail about ‘mirin’, make sure to check our article below!
What is Mirin and What is the Good Substitute for Mirin?
When you visit a Japanese restaurant or read a Japanese cuisine recipe, sometimes you will notice that there is the word “mirin” in the dish.
So “What is mirin, anyways?” Here, we would like to learn more about mirin - discover the right mirin's substitute, types of mirin, how to use mirin, and tons of useful information about mirin in one article!
Click here to see more >>
Hon Mirin is Acknowledged by Chefs and Professional Cooks
If you ever visited an authentic, refined Japanese restaurant, you’ll notice that the chefs and food professionals will prefer to use a high quality mirin. In this case, it’s hon mirin.
Hon mirin that is manufactured in a traditional method, only using the best domestic ingredients from Japan, and undergo an aging process, is said to have the most authentic, mellow sweetness mirin could offer. If used as glazed for grilled dishes, hon mirin will boost a rich, lustrous coating.
Not only make a mouthwatering food appearance, but hon mirin can also make it more delicious.
We will later introduce some recommended hon mirin products used and acknowledged by Japanese Chefs.
Hon Mirin as Condiment
Mirin is popular to use for making nimono (simmered dish), and many other Japanese cuisines.
As we know, mirin is familiar as an essential condiment for Japanese cuisine.
Every Japanese household will always stock a bottle of mirin because mirin's subtle sweetness is suitable for almost every dish. It is no exaggeration to say that mirin is an irreplaceable taste for Japanese cuisine.
If you are interested to add authentic Japanese taste in your cooking, consider mirin as a must-have condiment.
Hon Mirin as Liquor
Mirin was originally meant for drinking around the Edo Period before replaced with sake.
Mirin as liquor was actually derived from its own history.
Mirin was originally meant for drinking as a high-end sweet liquor that even women could enjoy before being replaced with Japanese sake at the end of the Edo Period (the 1800s).
However, the taste of the mirin those days seemed not so sweet as today's mirin.
That is because there was no technique to create rice malt (rice koji), which become the reason behind the mirin's sweetness.
The traditionally made hon mirin can still be enjoyed as a liquor, even after mirin used as a condiment and few other types of mirin established.
You can find some bar or restaurant that serves hon mirin in Japan. For instance, a long-established bar in Kyoto serves hon mirin as a liquor to their customers.
Proofing that hon mirin also delicious to enjoy as a liquor even now.
The Commitment of Hon Mirin Brewer in Japan
As we know, hon mirin is subject to an alcohol tax because of its alcohol content.
While the other types of mirin such as aji mirin, mirin-fu chomiryo, mirin type seasoning, mirin style, and shio mirin are undrinkable and are not technically a liquor.
To be able to brew hon mirin, a mirin brewery must obtain a liquor license under the Japanese Liquor Tax Act.
There are many mirin brewers spread around Japan, but the Mikawa area of Aichi prefecture has the largest number of it. This place provides a suitable condition of water and climate to optimally produce mirin.
It is best if hon mirin brewery maintains the traditional production method for making mirin.
Hence, their high commitment and effort will be able to finish the high-quality hon mirin with authentic and original taste.
POPULAR HON MIRIN IN JAPAN ON A LIST
1. Issi Souden Hon Mirin (Ogasawara Mirin Brewery)
2. Fukuraijun Hon Mirin (Hakusen Sake Brewery)
3. Sanshu Mikawa Hon Mirin (Sumiya Bunjiro Brewery)
4. Organic Sanshu Mikawa Hon Mirin (Sumiya Bunjiro Brewery)
How to Use Hon Mirin?
Daily cooking might be more enjoyable once you know how to incorporate hon mirin into your cooking. Take some notes below about how to use hon mirin!
How to use hon mirin?
Asian cuisine (especially Japanese cuisine) uses mirin a lot. Really, A LOT.
Mirin is popular to make teriyaki, nimono (simmered dish), yakitori (Japanese grilled chicken), oyakodon, also for soba noodle dipping sauce, etc.
Simply add mirin to any dish you want it to have a natural sweetness that's not so sweet. Mirin is perfect for dishes involving meat or fish. Also, unexpectedly mirin can be used to make pancakes and some other sweets to make it have a lumpier texture.
If you are using hon mirin instead of regular mirin, the dish will have more gourmet taste with natural sweetness.
Blowing off the high alcohol content of hon mirin is totally possible, especially if you are cooking for children. For a plenty amount of mirin, it’s best to heat it with a pot and bring it to boil to remove the alcohol.
What hon mirin do to your dishes?
● Helps to suppress the raw-smelling odor of meat and fish.
● Add natural sweetness to your dish.
● Thickens sauce and adds a wonderful glaze to it.
● Prevent the boiled ingredients (like potato or fish) not to collapse easier.
Tips to Buy Hon Mirin (and Where to Buy It)
Even though now hon mirin became more accessible outside Japan, we should be careful about choosing the product. May these quick tips below be helpful when you’re buying mirin!
Tips to Buy Hon Mirin
1. Pay attention to its ingredients. Hon Mirin only made with glutinous rice + rice malt (koji) + shochu.
2. Pay attention to its alcohol content. Hon Mirin has a high ABV (Alcohol by Volume) from about 10-14%.
3. The Hon Mirin that can be drunk as liquor will have 0 percent salt content. Please note that NOT ALL Hon Mirin is drinkable, so please check the ingredients again.
4. Check the product label thoroughly and make sure the mirin brewery is licensed. Sometimes, even though it is labeled or branded as “HON MIRIN”, it might not the real Hon Mirin. Make sure the product doesn’t include sugar, soy sauce, preservatives, and any other term for sugar (glucose syrup, fructose syrup, etc).
5. There are many types of mirin (aji mirin, mirin like seasoning or mirin-fu chomiryo, mirin type seasoning, mirin style, and shio mirin) that not drinkable. So please don’t get confused with so many terms for mirin beside Hon Mirin.
6. Hon Mirin product tends to be more expensive than other types of mirin. To make sure it’s really Hon Mirin, please double-check its ingredients.
Where to Buy Hon Mirin
It’s probably not easy to find hon mirin outside Japan, but hon mirin becomes more accessible these days. You can find and buy hon mirin in nearby grocery stores, Asian grocery stores, or at online shops.
However, please keep in mind to carefully choose the product with the tips we mentioned earlier.
If you want more Infos of where and how to buy mirin, please check our article below!
Where to Buy Mirin in the Grocery Store and Online Shops?
If you want to cook a recipe but still missing one item (mirin)?
“I want to buy mirin, but I don’t know where and how.”
Start reading this article to prepare any information you need about buying a mirin.
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