Mirin is a Japanese cooking wine typically used in stir-fries, sauces and marinades. But there are plenty of other creative ways mirin can be used in the kitchen to enhance and flavor a variety of foods and dishes.

Mirin is a Japanese cooking wine typically used in stir-fries, sauces and marinades. But the versatile ingredient has many other uses you may not have immediately thought of. The sweet wine has a high sugar content and can be used to tenderize meats and create delicious glazes for fish, chicken and beef. It is also one of the main ingredients in teriyaki sauce and provides a little bit of umami to many Japanese soups.

Mirin might soon become one of the most important staples in your kitchen pantry. Its common uses are explained in more detail in the article entitled “Essentials of the Japanese Kitchen: Mirin,” but there are plenty more creative ways you can use mirin in the kitchen to enhance and flavor a variety of foods and dishes.

1. Steam Foods With Mirin

Shellfish, such as shrimp and crab, and various other types of fish are often steamed with water and sometimes with the addition of some white cooking wine. Why not try steaming some of your favorite foods with mirin instead? Add some mirin to some fish stock for a subtle flavor of the sweet cooking wine, or complement it further with other ingredients such as lime, ginger or soy sauce.

You can also steam vegetables with mirin, and after the food is cooked, you can boil the steaming liquid until it has been reduced into a flavorful sauce. Cooking the foods with a bamboo steamer will really take the dish up a notch.

2. Make Japanese Fusion Meatballs With Mirin

Mix together a ½ cup of mirin, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, some minced garlic and some dried ginger. Work it thoroughly into chop meat before making meatballs, and you’ll really have a special treat. Enjoy the meatballs with soba noodles for a fun Japanese fusion take on spaghetti and meatballs.

3. Create Umami With a New Dipping Sauce for Sushi

Want to elevate your sushi dipping sauces beyond soy sauce and ponzu sauce? Get creative with mirin — mix mirin together with various other ingredients, such as soy sauce, ginger, wasabi, sesame oil, chili pepper flakes and basically whatever you can think of that might work well together. And don’t be afraid to try some things that you don’t think would go together, such as mirin and cinnamon. Play around with your pantry items, and you’re bound to create some great mirin sauce combinations.

4. Grill Fish With Mirin Boshi

A typical Japanese fish dish is grilled mackerel with a traditional marinade called mirin boshi. It is made with mirin of course, along with ginger, soy sauce, sesame seeds and salt. But it is just as delectable on any type of grilled fish, delivering a subtle sweetness without overpowering the fish.

5. Top Your Steaks With Sake-Mirin Butter

Tenderloins and other prime cuts of beef are often topped with garlic butter. A steak might never taste as good again without this intensely flavorful sake-mirin butter glistening on the surface. To make the butter, simply sauté some minced garlic in a teaspoon of olive oil over low heat, then add 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Once the butter has melted, add 2 tablespoons of sake and 1 tablespoon of mirin. Stir together, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle over your steaks!