What is Pastrami?

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Pastrami refers to meat slices that are preserved with salt and other spices and later smoked for additional flavoring.  Putting salt onto meat is one of nature’s easiest and earliest ways of preserving meat.  In the case of pastrami, slices of beef are seasoned with salt along with other spices for flavoring.  The typical process of preserving meat involves sun-drying and using salt as the main ingredient to discourage the formation of bacteria.  With pastrami, the traditional way of preserving meat is added with another process in the form of smoking or steaming.  Much like corned beef, pastrami is a very popular preserved meat product. Owing to the same preservation process, pastrami is actually a type of corned beef that also underwent a steaming or smoking process.  In the past, the only way to preserve meat is to put salt and spices which led to the term “corning the meat with salt”.  After this process, additional spices may be added for flavoring through steaming or smoking.

When talking about pastrami, most people are familiar with beef slices.  Original pastrami was actually created using the beef plate part.  As this meat product became popular, other parts of beef meat were also used in making pastrami and these include beef brisket and beef round.  Aside from beef, pastrami is also now available using turkey meat.

In terms of preparation, various spices are typically used regardless of the beef part or if turkey meat is used.  Aside from salt, traditional pastrami are made with spices such as garlic, black pepper, and paprika among others.  Other ingredients are also added to the meat depending on preference.  Once the meat is cured, it will then be smoked or steamed and served hot thereafter along with bread.  Sandwiches with pastrami filling are very popular in many parts of the world.

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