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March 27, 2007

Mirin (Recipe: teriyaki tofu wraps) {vegetarian}

Mirin

It sounds like The Queen, though its origins are not particularly royal.

Mirin (get it?), Japanese sweet cooking wine, dates back more than 400 years. Made by combining and fermenting steamed mochigome (a glutinous rice), komekoji (rice yeast), and shochu (Japanese liquor), mirin is clear and light gold in color, and a bit syrupy.

Mirin comes in two types: hon mirin and shin mirin. Hon mirin, which is naturally brewed, contains nearly 14% alcohol. It's often used as a ceremonial drink, especially during the period around the New Year. Shin mirin has less than 1% alcohol but has the same flavor as hon mirin, so it's commonly used for cooking, and it's the type most of us have in our pantries.

Among the benefits of using mirin are these: (1) It adds a sheen to sauces and glazes; (2) it helps mask the smell of fish and seafood; (3) it has a bit of a firming effect, making it a good partner to dishes using tofu; (4) it can be stored without refrigeration for up to six months or longer after opening, though the flavor will begin to deteriorate; and (5) because it has a strong flavor, a little goes a long way.

Mirin is the magic ingredient in authentic teriyaki sauce. And with a good teriyaki sauce in your repertoire, you'll always be the queen, or king, of the hill — oops, the grill — and your family and friends will eat like royalty.

Teriyaki tofu wraps

Cooked on the grill or under the broiler, these wraps are wonderful as a main dish or appetizer. Serves 6.

Ingredients

2 packages extra firm tofu, drained, cut into strips

For the vegetables:
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1/2 lb fresh snow peas, ends snapped and strings removed
12 thin asparagus, ends trimmed

For the teriyaki sauce/marinade:
1 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 cup sake
1/2 cup mirin
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated

12 flour tortillas, brushed lightly with sesame oil and warmed slightly in a dry frying pan.

Directions

Place tofu and vegetables in a large bowl, and cover with the marinade. Let stand at room temperature for up to an hour.

Preheat broiler. Place everything on a shallow rimmed sheet pan lined with aluminum foil, and broil 5-6 minutes until lightly charred. Serve rolled up in tortillas, with any leftover marinade on top.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

Comments

I like the list of benefits - I could use some of those actions in somethings!
The wraps sound really beautiful.
I see the pantry filling up.

Some regal qualities, indeed. I didn't know mirin was so versatile. Great photo, too!

Sometimes, nothing but Mirin will do.

Love your blog.

That is so interesting, I'm going to have to go and see what kind I have in the cupboard now :)

Hi Lydia,
Yep Mirin is the queen. I make my own teriyaki glaze ever since I saw the chicken teriyaki recipe in Cooks illustrated years ago. Love teriyaki sauce...I would use it on everything if had a chance.

Tanna, thanks for noticing the pantry shelf -- yes, it fills a bit every few weeks. Fun, isn't it?!

TW, mirin is the secret ingredient that makes teriyaki sauce taste authentic (rather than using all sugar). And thank you for noticing this photo -- I always shoot in natural light, and the photos are not always luminescent. But this one has a glow....

Melody, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. What else do you make with mirin?

Kelly-Jane, you can tell by the price what kind of mirin you have. The hon mirin is much more expensive, and used to be available only in liquor stores!

Veron, I think teriyaki glaze is addictive -- I absolutely love it, on chicken, shrimp, tofu, veggies, anything!

Mirin is what I like to add to my miso soup, it adds richness and depth.

I always learn so much reading your blog, I had no idea there were two types of mirin. :)

mirin is great... my favorite incarnation is in impossibly thin Japanese omlettes. hm... but i think i would like to try hon mirin...mmm!

Oops, 6 months, you said? The last bottle I had before running out of patience making Japanese food was purchased possibly in 2002. :) Sick. I should dump it and get a new one, because this recipe sounds fantastic!

Lydia, I have the same bottle of mirin in my pantry :D. I love Japanese food, and use mirin quite often. Your tofu recipe sounds wonderful! I will try it out. :)

Callipygia, thanks for the suggestion -- I never think of mirin in miso soup, but I definitely can see how that would boost the flavor and counteract the saltiness of the miso.

Amy, I always learn so much from my readers! I've never had the hon mirin in my pantry, but I would love to try it, too.

Connie, how do you make the omelets, and are they used to hold a filling or on their own? Sounds fascinating.

Shilpa, I have to admit that when I pulled out my own bottle to take this photo, I noticed that it was much older than 6 months -- oops! Out it went, and I replaced it with a brand new bottle!

Anh, I love Japanese food, too. I think mirin is one of those condiments that, once you taste it, you can think of lots of ways to use it. Mirin and soy sauce is such a perfect combination.

Hi Lydia,
As always a fascinating post! I know where to come knocking if I ever run out of Mirin! My husband has a box full of asian ingredients because he loves to 'knock up' a quick stir fry.

this recipe sounds absolutely delicious. not to mention it has ALL my favorite ingredients. i can't wait to try it. thanks for the recipe :)

A dear cousin of mine were married to a Japanese descendant for years and I always saw mirin in her pantry but never knew exactly what it was for. Her mother (my aunt), who lived with her, was my first cooking teacher. She taught me how to bake my first cake so I always knew what she had in her pantry. Just so you won't think I'm nosy , Lydia. lol

Oh yes!! How can you not have Mirin in the pantry. It's fabulous stuff. Thanks for that recipe--sounds delish!

Freya, what does your wonderful husband whip up from his Asian goodie box?

Linda, I love anything made with teriyaki sauce!

Patricia, you are welcome to come and nose around in my pantry any time. Oh...wait...that's what this blog is all about! It's such fun to have many cultures and cuisines come together in one family, isn't it?

Sher, I'm always looking for new things to do with my pantry ingredients. What do you make with mirin?

I am total fan of mirin in cooking! Had oysters with pickled ginger and mirin back in Tasmania that were delicious!

Helen is pretty good, too.

Lydia, great lead, great post.

Bea, oysters and mirin sounds like a wonderful dish. Oh, how I wish I'd gone to Tasmania when I went to Australia many years ago. I love reading your blog and seeing your beautiful photos of your trip -- and the lovely foods you found there.

Mimi, thanks. Helen is the best!

Now that I know what it is and what it's for I need to find it. I need a trip to the 'big city'....

Katie, what a lovely excuse for a trip to the city, to stock up on pantry items! Is Paris the nearest big city?

Where can I find Shin Mirin?

Dee, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. Wish I could help you with a reliable online source, but I haven't found one that I could recommend (though there are one or two in Japan that seem like they would link). Best to try a good Asian grocery or Japanese specialty shop. If you send me an email, we can continue the search with a bit more information.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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