Sunday, October 02, 2005

Aha! (and a query)



While organizing a cabinet today I found I had two bottles of mirin. One open (on the left above), and presumably older, and a second unopened (on the right). The newer one has a paler color, but you'd think they'd be the same - right?



Wrong. Which begs the question, is this rice wine or not?

I have another (unrelated) question... are rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar the same thing?

23 comments:

Alice said...

Wow...I'd be leary of the one starting out with corn syrup as the first ingredient. That's insane, though...I can't believe that!!! Same brand and everything...it makes you really feel like you have to read the ingredients of every single thing you put in your mouth!! (Sorry for the rant, and the fact that I can't help with your question.)

Stephanie said...

I doubt the bottle on the right actually has more corn syrup than any other ingredient. More likely that it's the exact same stuff, only with a label which was never meant for distribution in the US. From time to time, we'll pick up an imported product with a US label stuck almost-but-not-quite over the original label, and the order of ingredients is sometimes different because some countries don't care what order they're in, or care but have different priorities (they might, for example, be listed alphabetically).

I'd tentatively conclude that rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are the same thing. Checking the FDA's web site, I can't find an official definition of either.
(that was Matt, by the way)

augustusgloop said...

I think Stephanie may be right. I hope so anyway!

As for rice vinegar vs rice wine vinegar, according to Wikipedia, "one is made from fermented rice and the other is made by adding rice vinegar to sake". It also says "Chinese rice vinegars are stronger than Japanese ones, and range in colour from clear to various shades of red and brown".

Hope this helps!

Steffles said...

Hi, having worked in a food company, I was told the ingredients listing is not random. It should be listed in order with ingredients of the highest content. So your second bottle reads as tho they have changed the formulation, hence the ingredients order. I'm not surprised. Today alot fo manufacturers are trying to save costs by sourcing for more artificial flavourings in replacement of the real thing, for costs or preservation reasons.
To answer your other question about rice wine vs rice vinegar - the main difference is one has alcohol, the other doesn't. Its like red wine vs red wine vinegar. Hope that helps!

Cathy said...

Thanks all! I'm not sure we have a concensus on either question, but in the way of an update...

I was at the grocery store today and took a look at the Kikkoman mirin. It has an updated label with the nutrition data and corn syrup is still listed as the first ingredient. I noticed there was another brand that did not include corn syrup and had the motto "naturally sweet" on the label. I seem to be well stocked with mirin at the moment, but next time I think I'll go for that other brand.

Kirk said...

Hi Cathy - Aji-Mirin is not the "real deal" . Aji-Mirin is translated as "mirin taste", these probably have an alcohol content of about 8%, and is synthetic. Almost all mirin is synthetic, authentic mirin has an alcohol content of about 14%. So what do I use, I use a higher grade synthetic (almost sounds like motor oil doesn't it) - they run about $2-4 more a bottle, but you can tell the difference.

Cathy said...

Hi Kirk - so that explains it! Thanks so much for the helpful insight!!

Elaine said...

All that info on mirin was really helpful. Now...another question...where do you find it? I live outside of Frederick, Maryland which is a suburb of Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD and Gettysburg, PA. If anyone has an internet site that would be good too. I would tend to purchase a more authentic mirin, as Kirk suggested.

Cathy said...

Hi Elaine - Whole Foods carries a couple of different ones including the Kikkoman Aji-mirin pictured above and some more expensive ones that might be more along the lines of what Kirk was talking about. There's a Whole Foods in Gaithersburg and a couple in Baltimore. If you have an Asian grocery nearby, you should find it there as well.

elaine said...

Cathy,

Thanks for the info...I was able to find Mirin at The Common Market, a local food co-op here in Frederick. They carry a lot of organic and whole foods, especially from local growers. The brand they carry is Eden and on the list of ingredients it states: Water, rice, koji (aspergillus oryzae), and sea salt. It's made in Japan and has no added sugar or synthetic enzymes. I used it with some stir-fried asparagus and bok choi and it was wonderful! VERY flavorful!

Cathy said...

Glad to hear it Elaine! Thanks for the tip regarding the Common Market too... I've never been there, but it sounds like it would be worth checking out.

Elaine said...

Does anyone know where to find rice wine vinegar? I've been to 2 asian grocery stores in Rockville, MD and they had EITHER rice wine OR rice vinegar, not rice wine vinegar. I have a recipe that calls specifically for rice wine vinegar and I can't find it...except on the internet but I have to buy a case of it!

Cathy said...

Hi Elaine - I live near Rockville, so I'll check a couple of places near me and leave another comment if I find something. I'm still a little confused about the terms "rice vinegar" and "rice wine vinegar". I've seen places that use the terms interchangeably even when listing a single product and even Mark Bittman says they're the same. I've also seen articles that explain that they are different. Perhaps they're different, but the difference is not significant? Anyway, I thought I'd seen some in Whole Foods before - I'll check there and also the local Asian grocery.

Elaine said...

Cathy,

I went to 2 Korean grocery stores in Rockville and neither one carried or new about "rice wine vinegar." Even the "experts" on the Food Network make the mistake of using the term interchangeably. They ARE different.

Cathy said...

Hi Elaine - sorry, I forgot to check in Whole Foods and haven't had a chance to stop by the Asian grocery. I'll try to get in there soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I found this in trying to see if anyone knows a difference between rice vinegar, and rice wine vinegar, so far, between here and other places, some say yes, some say no. Other than the alcohol, Do you think it matters to a recipe? I could only find Rice vinegar, and not Rice wine vinegar. By the way, that was whole foods, and they only carry the Rice vinegar, and it's not about the alcohol, because they sell wine at this one. Anyone know if it makes a difference in a salad/barley type recipe?

Cathy said...

Hi Elaine - no luck at Whole Foods. I'll check out the Asian grocery near me sometime soon.

Hi anon - I've been hunting all over the internet and I'm beginning to think the difference, if any, is insignificant. It does seem the names are used interchangeably. If I could find something labelled Rice Wine Vinegar then I could compare it to Rice Vinegar, but so far no luck.

Elaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elaine said...

Well, ochef.com says "Rice vinegars are made from fermented rice. Rice wine vinegars are generally made from the lees (dregs) of the wine. Both and widely used in Asian cooking. Both, especially those from Japan, tend to be mild and sweet, and add a bit of acidity to dressings and in cooking. The Chinese red and black varieties are also used as condiments, but still are characterized as mild vinegars. There are also Korean varieties, some of which are much stronger."

They also go on to recommend ethnicgrocer.com and I found it on there but when I went to order it I got an error message. I DID find it on eBay from some guy in Australia...a little too pricey for me. The search continues...it's become a mission for me. LOL

Kathy said...

Hi Elaine,
You can purchase rice wine vinegar from mexgrocer.com, $5.95 for a 20oz bottle. This product is made by Roland. As others have stated, I too can't find it in any greater Seattle grocery stores.
Kathy

Anonymous said...

As for the mirin, look for "mitoku" and "mikawa." Visit http://www.simply-natural.biz/index.php for some (probably) authentic Japanese products.

Tammy said...

Have you tried checking a Chinese grocery store? They got to have rice wine vinegar there! Actually, they got almost everything there. At least in California they do.

Colet said...

Hi ,I recently purchased a bottle of the Aji-mirin and looking at the ingredients. I noticed that it states as follows: Glucose syrup, water,alcohol, rice, corn syrup, salt.
Yikes after reading all the info posted previously I am scared. and it is the same kikkoman brand. I wonder why all the differnce and it did say 8% alcohol on it.