Pastrami is a very popular delicacy of meat and although it is commonly made from beef, it can also be made from mutton or pork. Many people find pastrami and corned beef very similar due to the fact that they were both created to preserve meat before there were refrigerators. The process of making pastrami involves brining the raw meat, partly drying it, seasoning it with herbs and spices and then steaming or smoking it afterwards. Beef plates are usually the part of the meat used for making pastrami, especially in the U.S., but now, pastramis are now also being made from beef brisket, round, as well as turkey.
The term pastrami, as well as the dish was said to have originally come from the Turkish word “pastirma”; however, there are some who state that the term came from the Romans’ “a pastra” which means “to preserve”. The presence of pastrami in the United States was due to the many Romanian Jewish immigrants who went to the United States in the latter part of the 19th century. Pastrami made from turkey can also be credited to the Romanian Jews who emigrated in 1872 who said that it was common for them to use turkey for pastrami because goose breasts were comparably cheaper than beef.
The first person who was said to have produced the first pastrami was Sussman Volk who lived in New York. Volk was a butcher and was said to have been given a pastrami recipe by a friend in exchange for storing the friend’s luggage. Sussman’s descendant, Patricia, said that she prepared the pastrami according to the recipe and served it on sandwiches in Sussman’s butcher shop. The sandwiches became very popular that eventually Volk turned his butcher shop into a restaurant that specialized in pastrami.
In New York, pastrami is usually made from the navel end of the beef brisket. As mentioned earlier, it is first cured, coated with herbs and spices, usually garlic, black pepper, cloves and then smoked. After smoking the meat, it will then be steamed until it breaks down into a texture which is similar to gelatin. The way they serve pastrami in North America is almost similar to New York. However, some restaurants accompany pastrami with Russian dressing and coleslaw. In Los Angeles, they serve pastrami on a French roll instead of rye bread. The pastrami is sliced thinly and is accompanied by mustard and pickles. Sometimes, pastrami is even used as additional toppings on burgers.