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May 16, 2008 02:14 PM

Pastrami - What should it taste like?

Hi all - I just recently returned from lunch at a deli with a national reputation for great Pastrami sandwiches. And, much as I hate to say it, the taste of the pastrami itself was really not any different from an average store bought hot dog. Am I missing something? Is that how Pastrami is really supposed to taste? I was expecting something based on past experience with supposedly 'lesser' pastrami that would be a lot more peppery and have a somewhat spicy flavor to it. Am I expecting the wrong thing, or is this establishment's reputation somewhat undeserved?

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  1. In which city/country did you have this less than stellar offering?

    1 Reply
    1. re: mrbozo

      I second the importance of this question. The first time I ordered pastrami here in Dallas, I nearly choked when it turned out to have a heavy smoked flavor versus the Carnegie/Stage/Katz's varieties in New York. A very different meat and a very different flavor. Good, but completely unexpected. I really didn't enjoy it the first time I ate it because it wasn't what I wanted. I will also note that hot dogs, once you depart from the Kosher/Nathan's/Papaya king varieties also seem a bit smokier in many of the other regions of the country.

    2. IMO pastrami should taste like a cross between roast beef and smoky sausage. It really shouldn't taste like a hot dog!

      1. good pastrami should be fatty and have a peppery rub. Frequently it is nothing more than glorified corned beef. A specific cut is used in good pastrami - the plate , or deckle. Nowadays the brisket or worse is used. Its a larger cut than the deckle and less expensicve and available. Good pastrami should melt in your mouth.

        ps nothing wrong with brisket - but good pastrami is fattier and there is not much of that cut on anilmal so its very expensive and somewhat rare.

        2 Replies
        1. re: coastie

          > Frequently it is nothing more than glorified corned beef.

          That's exactly what it is: smoked and pepper-rubbed corned beef.

          1. re: aynrandgirl

            Most pastrami is made from the Navel end of the brisket which contains more fat. Corned beef is mainly from the chest area and contains less fat than what is needed for "New York Style" Pastrami.

        2. salty, peppery, juicy, tender, succulent, chewey, warm, delicious

          1. Definitely should not taste like a hot dog! Here in Chicago we have two styles what I call regular pastrami - basically a brisket or deckle cured with lots of pepper - slight smokey taste but very peppery also called pepper beef - also romanian pastrami - made form the shoulder less fatty a nice garlic flavor - both delicious -