This post is also available in: Indonesia
Talking about Japanese seasonings, mirin is one of the seasonings we often heard of after shoyu (soy sauce). This article intends to give a clear explanation about mirin, without the judgment of its permissibility for Muslims.
What is Mirin?
Mirin is one of the essential seasonings in Japanese food made from glutinous rice, rice koji, and shochu (liquor) that has been aged for 40 to 60 days to bring out a sweet taste. It has roles to give an elegant yet gentle sweetness, give shine and luster to the food, and bring out richness and umami.
Hon-Mirin and Mirin-Like Seasoning
In the Japanese supermarket, you can find two types of mirin; hon-mirin and mirin-like seasoning.
This is the seasoning that is commonly known and is made from 40-60 days aged glutinous rice, rice koji, and shochu (liquor), which made it has 45% of sugar content, 0% of salt content, and 14% of alcohol content. The hon-mirin is classified as alcoholic beverages under the Liquor Tax Law.
It is made from a blend of sugar such as glucose and starch syrup with glutamic acid (rice koji, etc) and spices that have a very similar taste to hon-mirin. This mirin-like seasoning contains less than 1% of alcohol so that it is not classified as an alcoholic beverage and comparatively at a reasonable price.
Is Mirin Halal?
Since hon-mirin contains 14% of alcohol, so many Muslims in Japan are likely to avoid its consumption. However, there are debates about the halal-ness of mirin-like seasoning as it is made with the purpose to give sweetness to the food and contains less than 1% of alcohol. This is because some religious authorities in Malaysia and Indonesia announced this matter.
Note that it is again comeback to each person’s belief.
There is halal-certified mirin which you can easily get from Amazon Japan !
What to Use as the Substitutes of Mirin
This is the most common (and easy to get!) seasoning to use as the substitute for mirin. If mirin brings a gentle sweetness, sugar gives a direct and strong sweet which is actually different but still plays its role to give necessary sweetness to the food. Sugar is suitable to use in nikujaga (Japanese meat and potato stew).
This is one of the most common ingredients used by chefs in Japan when serving halal/Muslim-friendly meals. The dates syrup gives a gentle sweetness to the meals and is easy to get on Amazon Japan! Besides, it is also perfect as a sweetener for dessert!
Honey is perfect to give not only nice sweetness but also shine and luster to the food. It meets nice for Japanese food that needs shine such as teriyaki chicken.
Cola actually contains a lot of sugar content which is able to give sweetness to the food. However, as Cola has a flavor that can disturb the original taste of food, you can try to use cola for meat dishes with a strong taste.
Will the soda change the food’s taste? Don’t worry, the soda will evaporate when boiled.