fen chiew, huang chiu, hua daio
yellow wine, wine, Shaohsing yellow rice wine
Just like in western cooking, Japanese and other Asian cuisines utilize wine and other alcohols in cooking, too. These commonly include mirin, sake, or shaohsing rice wine, where the alcohol is cooked out but the flavor of the liquid remains concentrated.
Mirin and sake are similar, but mirin has less alcohol and a higher sugar content. It comes in different types that vary from about 14% alcohol to less than 1% alcohol. Because of its slightly sweet quality, mirin can be used to balance out strong savory flavors. Other uses include as an ingredient in teriyaki sauce, in sushi rice, glazes, stir fries, or to enhance other flavors, although that’s far from everything.
Sake, on the other hand, isn’t as sweet and has a stronger aroma and alcohol flavor. While it still can contribute a bit of sweetness to a dish, its milder sugar content makes it ideal for accenting other savory flavors instead of simply cutting them back. Just like mirin and other cooking wines from around the world, it’s super versatile; sake’s only limit as a flavoring agent is your imagination!
At Uwajimaya, you can find sake in our wine, beer, and liquor department, while mirin can be found by our vinegars and other cooking sauces.