There’s no need to kiss your basic balsamic vinaigrette recipe goodbye. But you’ll want to put this salty-sweet dressing to work in your lunch salad, stat. It takes just five minutes to make: Whisk together 3 parts rice vinegar, 2 1/2 parts soy sauce and 2 parts mirin, a clear Japanese rice wine you’ll find in the international aisle near the soy sauce. Never heard of mirin? Here are the deets.
What is mirin? It sometimes gets confused with rice wine vinegar, although it's actually a variety of rice wine with a low alcohol content—typically around 10 percent. (Don’t worry, when it’s mixed up into salad dressing, it won’t get you buzzed, we promise.) Its sweet flavor is traditionally used to finish teriyaki sauce and miso soup.
How long does mirin last? Stash it in the fridge or a cool, dark cabinet for up to six months.
What can be used instead of mirin? If you’re in a pinch, mimic its sweet tang by mixing rice wine vinegar with sugar (about ½ teaspoon per tablespoon).
Other than dressing, how do I cook with mirin? A little goes a long way: add a few teaspoons to marinades and stir-fries. Because it contains a lot of sugar, it also makes a gorgeous glaze for veggies, meat and fish.