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Feb 29, 2012 04:07 PM

ISO pastrami or corned beef, not Montreal smoked meat

I should preface this post with the caveat - I have by no means done an extensive search for these products, only at a few Loblaws in midtown T.O. It's just something that's been on my mind, and something I've never been clear about.

Why can't I find pastrami or corned beef in the deli section anymore? And what exactly is Montreal Smoked Meat? Similarities/differences? I grew up in the FAR north of Ontario, and didn't have any exposure to MSM before moving to Toronto, so maybe I'm missing something. But in my mind these three products are all disparate. Are pastrami and corned beef falling out of favour with the sandwich meat crowd?

Should I just look further afield for my swiss melts?

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  1. MSM is basically the same as Pastrami (Pastrami is from NYC and is usually sweeter). MSM tends to have a thicker and more predominant spice rub 'crust'. Taste wise I would argue that a majority of people could not tell the difference between the two at a store deli counter on a blind taste test.

    Corned Beef is basically the non-smoked non-rubbed version of the two. Unless you are looking for canned corned beef.

    Almost any deli counter in the City will cart all three all at roughly the same cost.

    1 Reply
    1. re: flying101

      In Canada, corned beef, pastrami and Montreal smoked meat all start as essentially the same cut of meat: brisket. Then, as flying101 has noted, they are spiced and treated differently. Corned beef is, to my taste, the blandest of the bunch, pastrami and smoked meat more assertive. As flying101 has also noted, many can't tell the difference between pastrami and smoked meat. I've been fooled many times, and I've been eating the stuff all my life. The zestiest such meats, I find, rarely can be found on supermarket shelves. Try a Jewish deli, like Moe Pancer's on Bathurst St. north of Wilson, Centre Street Deli on Centre St. between Bathurst and Dufferin St., or any number of others around town, either for sit-down or takeout.

    2. The difference between pastrami and MSM is explained here:

      And I'm surprised you're not able to find corned beef or pastrami at any good-sized grocery. I thought it was pretty common.

      1. Corned beef is blander, as juno reports, and more Irish than Jewish in spicing, but still easy to find., Any large Loblaw, such as Queen's Quay, will have Maple Leaf or Springer brand in cryovac wrap, close to the hams.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jayt90

          I just bought some at Loblaws near Laird. Add a couple of Cloves to the water and you get a spicier meat a little like Pastrami.

        2. Thanks everyone! I will indeed keep looking, and maybe try some MSM after all, since pastrami is my preference.

          1. Other deli's not mentioned that I like for Pastrami:
            Yitz's, at Avenue and Eglinton and Katz's on Dufferin near Yorkdale

            346 Eglinton Ave W, Toronto, ON M5N, CA

            Katz's Deli And Corned Beef Emporium
            3300 Dufferin St, Toronto, ON M6A, CA