Umami Mart Registry

I'm sure Umami Mart readers know about mirin and have used it in cooking, but may not be sure about what it is exactly. Culinary experts in the U.S. believe that mirin is a mix of sake and lots of sugar. Sadly, this is incorrect. Yes, it's sweet, but not just syrupy sweet -- mirin is full of amino acids aka umami.

Mirin is an aged condiment that uses rice-koji, sweet rice and shochu. During the aging process, the kome-koji enzyme from the decomposing sweet rice makes amino acid and various glucose, lactic acid, citric acid etc. These impart complex umami sweetness to the food. Sound complicated? Mirin is shockingly easy to make at home. Just prepare the right ingredients and let the rice-koji do its work.

Let me show you how to make mirin.

15 oz rice koji
2 cups of uncooked mochi rice; cook with 1.5 cups of water
1 bottle (750ml) of 35 proof shochu; I used Takara Shochu
1 large glass jar

1. Cook sweet rice. Put the cooked sweet rice in the jar and loosen the rice well.

2. Add one whole bottle of shochu and lightly mix.

3. Check the temperature, make sure mixture is under 140˚F (koji's enzyme will die if it's too hot), if it's hotter than that, wait until it drops under 140˚F.

4. Add the rice-koji and lightly mix.

5. Stir and make sure the rice, koji, and shochu are mixed well together.

6. Put the lid on the jar and place the jar in a cool dark place like a pantry corner.

Wait 3 to 6 months until the liquid color becomes an ivory-brown color.

Strain the mixture, separating the by-products (mirin-kasu)...

... from the liquid (mirin):

You all know how to use mirin for cooking, so let me share how I use mirin-kasu. Mirin-kasu is full of flavor, like rich amazake. You could use it for your cooking, or even by itself as a sweet. Be warned, mirin-kasu contains alcohol. It tastes like rum-soaked raisins -- umami-rich sweets for grown-ups! I love it with fresh strawberries.

Also mirin-kasu is an excellent way to marinate meats, like pork.

Marinate for a few hours, at least over night to couple of days! I love marinating meat for a long time, it becomes so tender!! Grill and serve with sauteed mushrooms and a watercress salad!

I hope you enjoy the REAL mirin and the magic of umami!
Column: Kuishinbo


  • The ratio is 1 part koji rice, 1 part steamed white rice, 2 parts alcohol. The steamed rice should not be mushy.

    I’m currently on month 1 and the liquid at the top looks like store mirin. I’m letting it go for at least three months.

    Guillaume on

  • Hi there, thank you for this recipe! I did some digging and apparently the usual ratio is 1:1:2 (rice koji: cooked glutinous rice: shochu) so I increased the alcohol volume to 850ml… I hope this will work out ok.

    After you strain the mirin, do you let it continue to age? I read somewhere that one can continue to age it for 2 years or more.

    Val on

  • A late, late reply to Nicole re proportions for the recipe. Hopefully you did not throw your batch out before you found that the rice will settle into the liquid in a few days, much. the way that the rice mix for making amazake does. This is a great recipe that has never failed for me – thank you, Umamimart! There is only one other place where I have found such detailed directions for homemade hon mirin and that one was not as useful. I start a new gallon jar every few months and keep a study supply of great mirin. I mix the kasu with white miso with a 2/3 kasu/1/3 miso ratio and it is phenominal marinade. BTW, I let the rice/shochu mix sit for at least six months to get the best flavor.

    John Curry on

  • After having spent 25 dollars on the required ingredients, i was sooooo disappointed to see this morning that the rice had absorbed all of the alcohol and it was a complete failure. I could have just bought 25 dollars worth of good mirin. Clearly the ratios are waaaay off base.
    Save your money and time!

    nicole on

  • How long should I cook sweet rice in the very beginning? It is not so much water, I am afraid rice will be burnt.

    Kamil on

  • I was thinking about my mirin today, made it in a similar way. Got a bit sour as my alcohol base was only 20%.your description is very nice. Maybe you can use vodka?

    Crommr on

  • I just wanted to double check – 2 cups of uncooked mochi rice; cook with 1.5 cups of water, correct? That seems like an unusual ratio of water to rice. On the package of my mochigome, it recommended equal portions of water to rice, and to soak the rice first.

    Bret Trucahn on

  • how do you cook the rice? Steam, rice cooker or stovetop?

    Brandi on

  • Hi, I m interested in trying this to make a Complex Syrup to a Cocktail as opposed to a Simple Syrup, however I have one question before I start hunting down the supplies.

    If I were to want to have a bit more Sakura Blossom Flavour into the Mirin, would you recommend;

    infusing the Shochu and using the infused shochu for the mixture?
    Adding the desired flavour straight into the mixture?
    Or Simply infusing the Mirin with the flavour after its made?

    Sean Mangion on

  • What was your filtration method to get such a clear Mirin?

    Bobby on

  • I wonder if I can use vodka instead.

    Moto on

  • Thank you rb,
    Unfortunately sake-kasu requrs a much more complicated process.
    About rice-koji, I like the one in the picture!
    Hope you’ll enjoy making your own.

    Yuki HD on

  • looks good! hmm…is sake kasu made in a similar way? I have a recipe somewhere that includes it but unfortunately haven’t been able to find it. and do you have recommendations for buying rice koji? we in florida can be a bit limited when it comes to finding such things.

    rb on

  • Hi Moto-san,
    Yes, I think you could also use vodka!

    Yuki HD on

  • Great recipe.But too bad I can’t find koji around here ….

    Ei on

  • Very cool! Thanks! I notice the koji container says amazake on the front. Do you have a recipe for how to make amazake at home?

    Christa on

  • Love this post!

    Shinya on

  • Moto-San,
    Yes I think you’d better mix with water. And koji will take care it as you know!

    Yuki HD on

  • I am about to start a batch. Since this will be way too high in alcoholic content, am I supposed to dilute with water when using?

    Moto on

  • I would like to use vodka too but how much water to add?should add boiled filtered water or distilled water?regarding the sweet rice can i use long grain glutinous rice?

    Yong Pooi Won on

  • Thanks for your recipe. You mentioned mirin-kasu contains alcohol. Could you explain where did the alcohol content comes from?

    tomohisa on

  • I prepared the recipe today but noticed that the liquid level does not cover all of the rice. Do I need to add more shochu? Thanks

    Kris on

  • Oooo I gotta try this :D Im currently 9 months from being (legally) old enough to drink, and shipping on mirin is outrageous, plus I dont know the shelf life (for example if I buy a bottle will it keep until my birthday unopened? idk) but this is a perfect little DIY thing I can do over winter (start in November maybe) :D

    Christian on

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