Trader Joe’s Biltong Beef JerkyPosted: April 23, 2015 Filed under: Trader Joe's Brand | Tags: 4 stars, beef, biltong, jerky, Snacks, south african food, Trader Joe's Brand 9 Comments
Trader Joe’s has unleashed some strange jerkies on the world already – the unusual salmon jerky and addictive sriracha bacon jerky both spring to mind – but Trader Joe’s new South African-inspired Biltong Beef Jerky has got to be my new favorite. With a more nuanced and flavorful mix of spices, and thicker, more robust slices of beef, this jerky elevates a classic snack to a new level.
Biltong, as the bag will tell you, is from the Dutch bil and tong meaning, literally, “rump strip”. The Dutch name reflects the origin of the recipie. The notion of drying cured meat strips had been native to South Africa since time immemorial – but the arrival of Dutch settlers brought the notion of spicing the meat with black pepper, coriander, sugar, salt and vinegar – putting the jerk into the jerky, as it were.
The result is something extremely beef jerky like… and yet not. At first blush, beef jerky and biltong jerky are damn similar – after all they’re both beef, they’re both spiced and dried – but they vary in small, interesting ways. The first thing you’ll notice is that the biltong is narrow but thick – about half an inch wide and nearly that thick. It’s a much more orderly snack than your usual, raggedy, crumbly pile of wafer thin beef jerky – easier to eat and easier to share.
This same thickness gives the biltong jerky an amazing chewiness. Where ordinary beef jerky tends toward dryness, biltong tends toward juiciness. One strip will give your jaw muscles a full on work out. Once you’ve popped a strip in your mouth, however, you’ll quickly notice something else.
The blend of spices and flavors marinating the biltong is subtly different from most beef jerkies. While Trader Joe’s plays coy with the exact mix in their description – calling it a “family secret” – the result is a taste that is less intense than ordinary beef jerky (which, as we know, often tends toward extreme flavor profiles), and since it hasn’t been smoked the flavor of the meat itself is more apparent. Aside from the expected saltiness of the biltong, there’s a gentle pepperiness along with a faint fruitiness (thanks to the apple cider vinegar used in the curing process) and perhaps even a hint of floral notes – from Trader Joe’s Flower Pepper perhaps?
In any case, the resulting biltong is a whole new take on ordinary beef jerky – with thicker juicer slices, and an equally savory, if more subtle, flavor palette.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, a definite must try for jerky fans – enlightening.
Would I Buy It Again: Absolutely, I love a good jerky.
Final Synopsis: Beef jerky’s slightly more refined older brother.
I will finished my bad but won’t buy again. All I taste is the Worcestershire sauce.
I’m gonna try this. I love taking a chance and trying new jerkys that sound good to me.
REAL BILTONG has far fewer spices other flavorings/fillers/preservatives (no Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, molasses, tamarind, starches of any kind, etv). TJ’s is trying just a bit to hard to make it different … and then it just ain’t biltong.
Stick with a simpler classic recipe (Vinegar, S&P, sugar, coriander, no preservatives needed)!
This may be jerky but it is nowhere close to biltong. Could give biltong a bad name.
I loce Trader Joe’s but this is dreadful.
I’d agree. This is pretty tasty–for a jerky–but pretty far from a real good piece of real SA biltong. Just made me miss it more. I’ll enjoy the bag I bought, but not likely to buy again.
Wow – I’ve got to get my hands on some real biltong, I guess. Any leads on where to pick it up in the LA area?
Profoundjester, sir, ever since finding your blog I have thought of you as a friend, or if not a friend, then as a like-minded Trader Joe’s explorer whose recommendations led me to great discoveries. Until now. Never before have I considered that you might be a member of Trader Joe’s R & D or marketing team than at this very moment. This “jerky” was so awful – so sour and bitter and unpalatable – that I couldn’t even keep it in my mouth. I do believe it’s the first time a Trader Joe’s product has actually triggered my gag reflex. To each our own, I say with a raised glass, but if you admitted that liking this was an April Fools gag on us all, I’d be relieved.
Tastes good on it’s own, but it isn’t biltong. Worcestershire is very strong and shouldn’t be there and no real taste of coriander.
I’ll stick to making my own, especially at this price.
Where do I buy in nj