Mirin Soy Sauce
I don’t remember where I got this recipe or what the inspiration for it was but Mirin Soy Sauce is a delicious topping that you can use on almost anything. In fact, I often say that it “makes cardboard taste good!” It has become a “go to” condiment in our refrigerator and I especially like it on pan seared salmon, on grilled pork tenderloin, mixed with chopped cooked beef or used as a marinade for sautéed mushrooms …among many other uses.
I have taught this recipe, shared it, cooked it and savored it for almost ten years. You start by combining sugar, sake, soy sauce and mirin (a sweetened rice wine, see below) in a non-reactive sauce pot and reducing it to a syrup. A non-reactive pot is one that does not react (chemically) with food–made so that there are no surface metals that would react with food. Examples of non-reactive pots include stainless steel and enameled iron (such as Le Creuset). Reactive metals include copper, aluminum and untreated cast iron. Many avoid aluminum cookware because of the possible link of its use with Alzheimer’s disease. There are some folks who do not use any metal cookware at all with the belief that all metals can leach into food during the cooking process. I simply use a stainless steel or enameled cast iron sauce pot when I make any acidic sauce.
The sugar used is plain white granulated sugar. I have not tried to substitute any other sweetener. My thinking is honey will be too cloying, brown sugars will be too strong and anything artificial will have leave a chemical aftertaste when reduced. There are other possible options. Please feel free to try any of these and let me know how it turns out.
If you do not have sake on hand, don’t go out and buy any if you wouldn’t enjoy it with whatever you are making anyway. However, it is my experience that inexpensive unrefrigerated sake keeps for quite a long period of time in a cool, dark place. If you don’t want to deal with having leftover sake, though, you can use any dry white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. If you have any problem figuring out what to do with the remaining wine please feel free to contact me. As with all cooking, using an expensive wine is unnecessary. Inexpensive wine makes the dish you are cooking taste exactly the same as a dish cooked with expensive wine.
I use traditional soy sauce although low sodium soy sauce works just fine. A really fun fact is that there is a huge Kikkoman soy sauce plant in Walworth, Wisconsin. I remember hearing that it was the world’s largest producer in the late Twenty “naughts” as the Brits say. I am not sure a decade later it still is.
Mirin is a sweet and tangy type of rice wine. It too keeps for a long period of time and is available in small bottles at many grocery stores. I have made the Mirin Soy Sauce without it when I thought I had some but didn’t, but adding it does complement the finished sauce. Many of you have heard me say to simply rename a dish if it doesn’t turn out the way you planned. In this case, I would keep the name because it will still be a seriously delicious sauce even without the mirin.
The key to making this recipe is getting the right consistency of the finished product. I like for the Mirin Soy Sauce when chilled to be similar in consistency to room-temperature honey. When you are cooking it, you really can’t tell how thick it is going to be until it is cooled a bit. A good way to learn how to get the right consistency is to cook it until the bubbles start getting a little bigger and then chilling it. Then you can see how thick it has gotten. If it is still a little runny, cook it a little more. If it is too thick, add a splash of water and warm it just to get everything to combine. When you get the consistency you want, reheat the sauce and finish the recipe with the garlic, ginger and scallions.
We always have a container of Mirin Soy Sauce in our refrigerator at home. It keeps. I have found a jar of this in the fridge after many months and it was still good. To refresh it, I strained out the old garlic, ginger and scallions and rewarmed it with new fresh garlic, ginger and scallions. After that, we used it right up.
Mirin Soy Sauce
This sauce makes cardboard taste good.
1 cup sugar
½ cup sake
½ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Mirin
2 cloves garlic, pasted
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 scallions, sliced into thin rings
Method: Cook the sugar, sake, soy sauce and Mirin in a non-reactive sauce pot until when cooled it is the thickness of honey. Add the garlic, ginger and scallions and bring just to a boil. Cool and use as desired on chicken, pork, salmon, beef or even wild game as well as mushrooms, eggplant, stir-fry, fried rice and even plain cooked rice. Keeps well in a jar in the refrigerator.