Pastrami and corned beef are delicious meats often used in deli sandwiches. To the uninitiated, the two terms are used interchangeably. They look almost the same, and hence, the confusion. While they have similarities, you should know that there are also key differences between the two.
Want to know more about pastrami vs corned beef? Keep on reading and we’ll share some things that will make you smarter.
To have a good understanding of the two meats, let’s first talk about their origin, which is one thing that makes them different.
There are two possible ancestries for pastrami. It can be from Romania wherein it was originally made of mutton or pork. Meanwhile, there are also some accounts saying that it is from Turkey. Here, it is traditionally made of beef, which resembles the more common type of pastrami that we know today.
Corned beef, on the other hand, is from Ireland. It is one of the staples eaten by the locals during St. Patrick’s Day. It is often paired with cabbage. The reason for this is because cabbage is cheap, which makes it a common choice among Irish immigrants.
Type of Meat
Pastrami is from the navel just below the ribs. It can also be from the deckle, which is a firm and wide shoulder cut. It is also not uncommon to find pastrami from a brisket, although, most are from brisket or navel. One of its biggest differences with corned beef is that it can also originate from other meats, such as pork, mutton, and turkey.
Corned beef, on the other hand, is from a cow’s brisket, which is the lower chest. This is the portion between the cow’s front legs. Flat-cut brisket is more commonly used for corned beef compared to other types of brisket. Corned beef can also be from beef round if you prefer a leaner cut, because it isn’t as fatty, you can also expect that it is not as juicy.
If there is one thing that makes pastrami and corned beef similar, it would be that they are both cured meats, which is why they have distinct and strong flavors. Salt is used for preserving the meat, so you can also expect that both have high levels of sodium. Take this into account if you have dietary restrictions.
Brining, the process at which the two meats are prepared, is similar to pickling. To do this, you have to soak the meat in water with salt. Spices are added depending on your preference, such as juniper berries and mustard seed.
After brining, this is where pastrami and corned beef becomes different. In the case of corned beef, braising or slow cooking will finish the process. This will cause the fat to break down and become juicier. Corned beef is naked, which means that no spices are added. So, you get a more natural flavor of the meat.
Pastrami, meanwhile, is a bit more complicated. After brining, the meat will be rubbed with dry spices. These spices can include coriander, paprika, and black pepper, among others. It will be smoked for several hours then it will be steamed. The process is also more involved, which also makes a lot of difference when it comes to flavor.
The two meats can also vary depending on the way they are cooked. This is a matter of personal preference, so you can cook it the way you want to, but in terms of traditional choices, the two are different. A corned beef is often boiled. On the other hand, pastrami is smoked over hardwood. Often, there is a pan with water to create steam and make the meat moist. This prevents it from being dry and tough. Because of this method, you can also expect that pastrami has a more distinct flavor, which can also be affected by the type of the wood you will use.
Pastrami and corned beef can also be different based on the way they are served. For corned beef, one of the most common ways of enjoying the meat is through a traditional sandwich. A generous pile of meat is usually served on top of rye bread. Corned beef is also commonly used in a Reuben sandwich, which also has thousand island dressing, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese. In Ireland, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, the most common way to eat corned beef with cabbages and potatoes. Corned beef is also commonly served as a hash. It is either sliced or ground, mixed with potatoes and onions, and fried.
With pastrami, on the other hand, it is most commonly eaten only as a sandwich. It is a staple in delis. The simplest way to eat it is to have a stack of pastrami in between rye bread. Add mustard if you want.
For those who are concerned about nutrition, the two meats are almost the same. They are both excellent sources of zinc, Vitamin B12, and protein. However, take note that both are cured meat, so you have to enjoy them in moderation. It has a high-salt content, so watch out especially if you need to control your sodium intake.
Looking for a good way to enjoy a delicious meat without the guilt? One thing that you can do is to let go of the salt and use coriander seeds instead. This is a salt-free seasoning that can effectively replicate the flavor of salt.
Now that you have reached the end of this post, we hope that you were able to learn from the discussions above regarding pastrami vs corned beef. The two meats are both soaked in a brine solution, but the preparation of pastrami is more complicated. It is seasoned and smoked once brining is done. Pastrami uses a dry rub of seasonings to give it a more complex flavor, which is one thing that is not done in corned beef. Both are from beef briskets. However, the difference is that pastrami can be from other meats, including pork, turkey, and mutton.