We originally reviewed Golden Island Jerky back in 2008, and then again in 2012 when they did a full rebranding. Since then, the company was purchased by Hillshire Farms in 2013, and then Hillshire Farms was purchased by Tyson Foods in 2014. Because of Tyson Foods' dominance in food distribution, Golden Island Jerky will be seeing increased market penetration, including Ralph Stores in Southern California.
This Kung Pao Beef Jerky is described by the company as being "spicy, soaked in a blend of Asian-inspired spices and topped with chili flakes".
Beef, sugar, water, gluten-free soy sauce, chili sauce, contains 2% or less: chili pepper, spice, potato starch, chili powder, salt, paprika, tumeric, natural flavor.
The first thing I taste from these pieces is a strong sweet, followed by some heat. There's a Chinese-style "fruit flavored beef" taste in this, much like with competing Chinese-beef jerky brands. The chewing brings in some of the chile sauce flavor and the flavor of chile peppers.
For being marketed as, "Kung Pao Beef Jerky", is certainly seems to hold up. It's definitely spicy as most traditional Kung Pao dishes go, offering a level of heat that I would rate as "medium hot" on my personal heat scale (level 4 out of 5). But it also manages to mimic the classic Kung Pao flavor too, a mixture of sweet and spicy with bold seasonings and a touch of tanginess.
Otherwise, the primary taste profile of this jerky is that Chinese-style "fruit flavored beef" that you find in Asian-markets, but spiced up with red chile peppers and chili sauce. It's heavily sweet, a little tangy, moderately salty.
The meat consistency feels much more tender and soft than most national jerky brands. It's almost "mushy". As a result, it doesn't really chew like real steak. It has the fibrous character of meat, but something overly soft. I found a few noticeable chunks of fat, but otherwise no gristle or stringiness.
This Kung Pao Beef Jerky from Golden Island dishes out plenty of heat, just like in the classic sense of Kung Pao cuisine, offering up a delicious blend of sweet, savory, salty, and spicy flavors. I really like tangy, fruity profile of this jerky, and love how it compliments the flavor and heat of red chile peppers. While it's overall tender and soft, I found the meat to be "too" soft, giving this a mushy chew. But otherwise, this new offering from Golden Island Jerky puts a good spin on the classic Chinese-style "fruit flavored beef".
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