Corned Beef Battle: How to Decide which Corned Beef Brand to BuyOctober 2, 2018
- Steph DyWords
If you look at my family’s weekly grocery haul, you might think we’re preparing for a zombie apocalypse. But our major stockpile of canned goods is actually meant for the weekday mornings when we’re too lazy to make breakfast from scratch. And one petty dilemma I always have at the supermarket is choosing which brand of canned corned beef to buy.
There’s a little bit of confusion regarding the origins of corned beef. I’m not sure if it came from America or Ireland, but I do know that corned beef was traditionally served every Easter Sunday during the 17th century. There were no refrigerators back then, so they preserved the beef with kernels or corns of rock salt, hence corned beef’s misleading name. Also, while old-style corned beef looks more like sliced ham, its more familiar, shredded form became a hit with soldiers since it was easier to ration.
There are just so many local brands available in the market now, with each one claiming to be better than the rest, and our importers have also been bringing in more and more foreign brands. So to spare you the trouble of having to try each one, I got a sample of the brands available at my local grocery, and conducted my own taste test with a corned beef lunch buffet.
Argentina Gold Label Corned Beef
As one of the most popular local brands, Argentina has come up with different variants of their corned beef through the years. To compete with the high-end brands, they’ve developed the Gold Label.
Made with 100% imported beef, this variant has less fat than their Carne Norte alternative. It isn’t as salty as the said variant either. I’d say it tastes like it was made from perfectly-marinated Grade-A beef, and for me, that makes it well worth the Php 44 (per 150 grams) price tag.
Brillo Premium Corned Beef
Brillo is a fairly new brand that takes its name from the Italian way of slow-cooking corned beef. It uses primo categoria carne (premium grade beef), and allegedly has zero trans-fat. Despite the brand’s Italian references, it’s actually a local product. The price is pretty steep at Php 65 per 210-gram can, so it’s not surprising that they’re starting to sell these in bundles.
Upon opening the can, you might be grossed out by the sight of a giant tendon amidst slivers of meat, but I think you’ll also appreciate that the product doesn’t seem to have too much lard. When cooked, Brillo corned beef looks like a dark and juicy steak, but it was so salty that I had to drink a whole glass of water after just one spoonful.
Delimondo Ranch Style Corned Beef
Delimondo is probably one of the most in-demand brands right now, and I think that’s because it’s a straightforward product. Made with top-choice ingredients in the old-fashioned way, one taste of the stuff is enough to convince you that you’re eating real meat.
As compared to other local brands, Delimondo costs more at Php 110 per 260 grams. Nevertheless, a plate of this really good corned beef can make you forget about that minor hole in your wallet.
Highlands Corned Beef
Highlands Corned Beef is CDO’s answer to the many first-rate brands out there. But unlike the other high-end brands, Highlands is more affordable at Php 25 per 100 grams.
It’s supposedly made with Angus beef, but I wouldn’t expect much, given the price. It tastes a little bland, and it doesn’t look as appetizing as the other brands. You’ll also notice that it looks too red, and the color resembles that of tocino‘s.
Truth be told, I just picked up a can of Highlands when it was first introduced because of the big, attractive billboards and bus ads featuring Jake Cuenca’s abs.
Purefoods Corned Beef
As a nostalgic favorite, Purefoods has retained its corned beef recipe for many years. It isn’t exactly high-end, but it’s priced a little higher than average, at Php 45 per 150 grams.
Purefoods corned beef is savory, and has a consistency that’s similar to toasted floss. It’s also worth noting that the Purefoods conglomerate has cheaper sub-brands like Chunkee and Star corned beef. These have bigger chunks (hence the name Chunkee), but are not quite as flavorful as their parent company’s corned beef variant.
Swift Black Label Premium Corned Beef
Honestly, when Swift started appealing to budget-conscious shoppers by repacking their corned beef in foil packs, I didn’t even think that they would offer a premium variant.
But to be honest, I can’t find a notable difference between the taste of the previous variants and that of the Black Label. I loved that it had the biggest chunks of meat among all the brands I taste-tested, but I found it too mushy and wet, even after I heated it for 10 minutes. Hence, I think the Php 60 (per 210 grams) price tag is too much, despite its supposed 100%.
Hereford Corned Beef’s boxy packaging is a lot like Spam’s. This imported brand of corned beef looks like meat loaf, but it tastes like one that’s comprised of lean and salty shavings of meat. A 340-gram can (priced at Php 110) can feed at least three hungry monsters. It’s so savory that a few spoonfuls can flavor a huge mound of rice.
Just be prepared to mop up a generous amount of meat juice when you open a can of Hereford, though.
Some people consider Libby’s Corned Beef as the most unattractive of its kind, as they claim it looks like dog food. Personally, I find it too salty and mushy, but most people I know love it because it’s the perfect accompaniment to fresh, hot pandesal. Or maybe because a 200-gram can of Libby’s contains three days’ worth of cooking oil. How economical.
But I’ll leave it to the Libby’s Corned Beef fans to shell out Php 88 for their salty meat fix.
So, who wins the food fight? My personal choice is Delimondo, but I guess it all really depends on how you like your corned beef. I’ve also found that local corned beef brands are not only very capable of holding their own against foreign brands, but are also more affordable (and thus, offer more value).
Taste-wise, the high-quality brands are quite similar, but if you want to get your money’s worth (and a good meal out of it), I would suggest picking up cans of Argentina and Hereford on your next trip to the grocery.
What about you? Who’s your winner? Did I miss out on a corned beef brand that’s worth trying? How do you like to enjoy your favorite corned beef? Tell us all about it below!
[Thumbnail source: Simply Recipes]