Corned Beef vs Pastrami: Which Is Which?

There is always a first time for everything. If you happen to be a newbie deli sandwich eater, then chances are you have faced the dilemma of what deli meat to order. Whether this has occurred to you in a local store like Safeway or in an iconic deli like Katz’s, it is important to understand that you are not alone.

One of the biggest challenges you may face is not just what type of meat to choose but to know exactly the difference between similar looking cuts. Take the corned beef and pastrami for example. Most veterans would say there’s not much difference between the two but in deli world, every little detail makes a difference.

These two deli meats may taste the same but here is the top 4 differences every deli sandwich eater should know about.

1) They came from different parts of the cow or beef cuts.

Corned Beef – typically beef brisket

Pastrami – although beef brisket may be used, this deli meat typically comes from the navel part of the cow. It is next to the brisket but closer to the cow belly. This means this cut is fatter than the corned beef and takes a longer cooking time.

2) They use different types of cooking methods.

Corned Beef – while both are cured using a salty water solution, also known as brine, this cut is usually boiled after the curing process.

Pastrami – after the curing process, this cut is usually rubbed with additional spices before undergoing a smoking process to be cooked thoroughly.

3) They are prepared and eaten differently.

Corned Beef – in a traditional deli sandwich way, this meat is eaten as a Reuben ensemble or with a cabbage if it’s St. Patrick’s Day

Pastrami – eaten in between rye bread topped with mustard.

4) They have different nutritional content.

Corned Beef – in a hundred grams of pure corned beef, there is about 250 kilocalories, 973 mg of sodium, 18 grams of protein, and 98 mg of cholesterol.

Pastrami – in a hundred grams of pure pastrami meat, there is about 140 kilocalories, 1056 mg of sodium, 20 grams of protein, and 65 mg of cholesterol.

5) They seriously taste different from each other.

While it may be a subjective opinion, most customers prefer pastrami over corned beef sandwich because the fat makes a huge difference in the taste. In fact, out of all deli sandwiches, pastrami is known to be the favorite among deli regulars in NYC.