Jerkyology is a pursuit that offers rich, tasty rewards. The variety of delicious jerky available today is simply amazing and that diversity is all the more interesting when you include the meats from far-away lands. While jerky certainly seems most prolific here in America you can often find at least a few examples of local jerky (or jerky-like snacks) as you travel the world. On a trip to Japan last year I picked up a small assortment of Japanese jerky, some of which have already been reviewed here on Jerkyology.com.
One of the jerkies, purchased at Nurita Airport, was this visually tantalizing package with the word “Kobe” as the only legible bit of English to be found. I surmised that this must be beef jerky made from world-famous Kobe beef and was thrilled to have made such a find. Examining the meat inside, delicately placed in a small plastic tray, it looked to have been richly marinated and was exceptionally tender. I snatched a bag along with a few other snacks and treats and quickly packed it all away for the trip back to Texas.
Some time later, as I worked my way through the Jerky Vault, I retrieved the Kobe beef jerky package and sat down with high expectations for what was hopefully going to be a great jerky experience. As I carefully opened the package, mindful of the precious contents within I was unexpectedly assaulted with a tremendous odor that absolutely clashed with every preconception I had about the meat within. A bit confused but undeterred, I pressed forward. Extracting one of the larger pieces of meat I examined its texture carefully… delicate and tender… and again noted the peculiar and unflattering smell. Still, this is Jerkyology and our discipline requires commitment! I took the piece, popped it in my mouth, and started diligently chewing with great focus and attention.
It was aweful! The seasoning was an odd combination of sweet and a slightly funky sour. The texture wasn’t quite right with the meat separating too easily as I chewed. And, above it all, this beef had an unmistakably fishy taste that simply would not quit. I struggled to find the tasty beef within, to identify the quality and yummy goodness that this Kobe beef would doubtless provide. And then it occurred to me that I had it all wrong from the start. So very, very wrong.
I’ll state clearly that I’m not a fan of seafood. I’ve eaten my share and tasted a worthy cross-section of aquatic critter over the years, but given any alternative I’ll skip the seafood in favor of more terrestrial fare. This, I realized, wasn’t beef at all. It was some sort of fish… and I had chosen poorly.
After doing my best to get the funky fish flavor out of my mouth I set out to determine what, exactly, I’d just eaten. It took some serious sleuthing but I eventually tracked this packaged snack to the Gogyofuku company in Japan. They are, as best as I can discern through the haze of Google Translate, a food manufacturer that specializes in fish delicacies and this particular example of their wares was salmon from Hokkaido. Their website has a brief reference to this product in one of their “Gogyfuku News” blog (translated):
It is easy to eat soft ③! Field and salmon of Hokkaido
Place salmon and soft brand name:
JAN Code: 4971875215270
Expiration dates: 90 days
Tax reference selling price: 580 yen
The carefully stripped the skin of autumn salmon caught in Hokkaido waters, it was seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, etc..
Taste that was condensed tightly becomes a habit.
So, with the knowledge that my Jerky needs would not be met, I solemnly set it aside and wondered what other package within the Jerky Vault might be waiting to violate my expectations as holistically as this one. Clearly the fault here is all mine. My entire visit to Japan gave me a profound appreciation for what it must be like to be illiterate as I tried to reason my way through menus and store signage. This package was doubtlessly labeled with care and precision and it was my own ignorance that lead me to assume too much.
In the pursuit of knowledge there are often detours. In Jerkyology mine is apparently salmon.
Eat well, and wisely, friends!