Cactus Jerky is not just a newfangled type of vegan jerky, it's the actual name brand name of this product, owned by Cactus Jerky, Inc. of Corona Del Mar, CA. I found this at a Whole Foods Market last October, and if you recall I wrote a review of the "Hot & Spicy" variety.
And in that review, I gave it a "dog treats" rating, saying that it's just rather "bleh!". This teriyaki variety is a package that I had sitting around since that time, but was just waiting for a reason to open it up and review, and maybe hoping the sweeter teriyaki flavor might make this more palatable.
Cactus is certainly not a new idea in cuisine. Hispanic cultures have long enjoyed "nopales" and "nopalitos", generally sliced into small strips, and pickled in salt & vinegar. They're actually rather tasty with soft chicken tacos. But as a jerky? Well like I said, maybe the teriyaki flavoring will make this palatable.
Cactus, teriyaki, organic cane juice, fresh garlic, onion & spices.
The flavors I pick up from the surface of these pieces includes a boxy, almost paper-like taste. In the chewing, it involves into a more leafy flavor, very similar to seaweed. There's a slight salty flavor too. Also, a faint tanginess inside the meat of these leaves.
My initial impression is that this teriyaki variety is perhaps a bit more palatable than the hot & spicy I reviewed months ago, I think mostly because the flavorings tend to work better with the cactus leaf flavor as opposed to the hot & spicy flavorings. But, I'm still not sold on cactus jerky.
As for being advertised as a teriyaki variety, I taste no teriyaki flavor. I really don't even taste much of any sweet. When you think of teriyaki, you think of thick, sweet, soy-sauce flavor with a bit of ginger contrast. I get zip of that in this. All I taste are the cactus leaves.
The leaves certainly do have a leafy flavor, but since I don't normally eat cactus it's hard for me to say that this actually tastes like cactus. My experience is normally them salty, vinegary, nopalitos. But I think I feel certain that if you love to eat cactus, you'll likely love this too.
I'd probably rate the natural cactus leaf flavor as the primary flavor of this jerky, followed by a light salty flavor, and that's largely it.
These appear to be strips of thinly sliced cactus leaves, about one inch wide, and 3-5 inches in length.
The leaves are rather gummy, being very flexible and rubber like. In fact they chew just similar to gummy candy, except more tough to bite off. In the chewing, bits of leaves soften up and adhere to the recesses of my molars, just like gummy candy would. I'm finding myself having to pick these pieces out with my tongue.
There's almost a leathery feel to these things, in fact they're probably more like thin layers of naugahyde. But they tear and rip apart much more easily than naugahyde.
They're pretty clean eating. No residue on my fingers, and no pieces flying off.
I didn't find any chewy sinews, or anything else that didn't want to break down.
I paid $3.99 for this 1.5oz package at a Whole Foods Market in Irvine, CA. That works out to a price of $2.66 per ounce, making this an expensive jerky.
For general jerky snacking purposes, it's rather weak value. I'm just not picking up any snackability from this. I realize that much of this is my bias as a meat-lover, but in trying to be as objective as I could, the flavor of this is just crummy. I won't say that it's awful, or despicable, I can see how some people might actually enjoy this. But not me.
I suppose as a cactus jerky, this is probably not a good value either. I mean, how can strips of cactus cost more per ounce than most strips of beef jerky? Cactus can't be all that expensive, or can it?
I'm giving this a dog treats rating.
It really boils down to whether this is something I can tolerate eating or not, and the answer is that I can't.
The fact that I couldn't get any sweet teriyaki flavor from this is another disappointment.
But that doesn't mean that this is a bad product in general. I'm sure there are people who've developed a taste for cactus, and I imagine that vegans will tolerate eating this just because it's another snack food that meets their dieting criteria. Maybe it's like beer, an acquired taste.
Being of japanese descent, I know that japanese people love to eat salted and roasted pieces of seaweed. This jerky seems to have similarities. But the japanese take whole leaves of seaweed, cut them into bite sized pieces, soak them in a salty brine, then roast them until they become crispy like chips. I've had this, and actually like it. You just suck the salt off of a piece, and the piece softens up, and then you enjoy the flavor of the seaweed. I think the folks at Cactus Jerky ought to try that instead.
A good beer with this is a hoppy IPA.
Rating: Dog Treats
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