Mirin vs. Ryorishu: Cooking Sake Rice Wines
Mirin (みりん) and Ryorishu (料理酒) are Sake rice wines commonly used in Japanese cooking.
These alcohols are seasonings that have become kitchen staples in Japan, where almost every household stores them in the pantry.
But how do the two differ from each other?
Mirin vs. Ryorishu
Here, I will give an overview of Mirin and Ryorishu for those unfamiliar with Japanese culinary culture and compare them.
First, let’s look at what Mirin is and how it serves.
Hon Mirin (本みりん)
Mirin is a drinkable sweet seasoning liquid made from steamed Mochi-Gome (餅米: glutinous rice) mixed with Kome-Koji (米麹: malted rice) added with brewed alcohol and aged.
It contains 40 to 50 percent sugar and 13 to 15 percent alcohol and has another name of Hon Mirin (本みりん: meaning Real Mirin)
to distinguish from Mirin-Fu Chomiryo (みりん風調味料: Mirin-like Seasoning) with less than 1 percent alcohol.
We commonly use Mirin with soy sauce when simmering foods, when the alcohol content evaporates, so you don’t have to worry about it.
How it serves
- The ethanol in Mirin suppresses the fishy smell, helps other seasonings infiltrate the food, and prevents it from falling apart while cooking.
- The sugars in Mirin add sweetness to the dish, give it a shine, and bring out a good smell.
Ryorishu, in a broad sense, refers to (any) Sake used in cooking, while in a narrow sense, it refers to an undrinkable salted Sake.
The latter, commercial Ryorishu, is a fermented seasoning made with ingredients such as rice, Kome Koji, alcohol, salt, and starch syrup.
The one I have now contains 15 percent alcohol and 2.4 percent salt, by the way.
We commonly use Ryorishu with soy sauce and sugar when simmering foods, when the alcohol content evaporates, so you don’t have to worry about it.
How it serves
- Ryorishu removes the fishy smell, tenderizes the food, and helps other seasonings infiltrate it.
- It also adds umami and a flavor to the dish.
Mirin and Ryorishu are similar seasonings. While Mirin is sweet and prevents food from falling apart, Ryorishu is salty and tenderizes it.
The addition of sugar to Ryorishu makes it close to Mirin. But since the two rice wines differ in ingredients and production methods, you can’t make their taste the same.