Lia's relatives hail from Laos, where they raised cows and produced dried beef for market. When they visited the USA, they would make small batches of this dried beef for Lia's family. The snack became a huge hit, and a business idea was born. Crouching Cow's beef jerky is made from eye of round with minimal spices and a crispy consistency.
This Original is simply described as being made using similar techniques that the ancient Lao used.
Beef, garlic, sugar, salt, soy sauce, black pepper, white sesame seed
The first flavors that hit my palate is a sweetness, followed by a light salt, and touches of sesame and garlic. There's an oily flavor, much like pan-fried beef that comes in. The chewing brings on a unique, Asian-flavor, very much like the pan-fried beef but in greater definition. Hints of black pepper are noticeable.
Considering this brand advertises its ancient Laotian techniques in making dried beef, it definitely has that ethnic, South-Asian character. It actually has a pan-fried smokiness too. I actually envision myself in an Asian food market smelling the smoke billowing from an outdoor grill.
Overall, the primary taste profile is a natural meat flavor that tastes like it was wok-fried, or pan-fried, in some kind of oil, perhaps sesame, and flavored with soy sauce and garlic. The sweetness makes a significant contribution, while the black pepper is subtle. The saltiness tastes light.
The meat consistency appears to be all meat with no fat visible, though at least one piece I ate had some kind of unchewable tissue. It looks wet and sticky, and it is in fact sticky and oily to touch. But it chews dry with just a touch of initial crisp. Chewing seems overall easy to moderate, and takes on the texture of a well-done cooked steak.
This Original variety from Crouching Cow Beef Co. delivers a unique flavor that hasn't been found elsewhere. Many other brands have tried to reproduce the Asian cooking flavors in jerky, and many have done a good job, yet they still carry a taste and chewing profile adjusted for American palates. Crouching Cow, on the other hand, tastes like it was made by Laotians, for Laotians, and nothing Americanized for mainstream audiences.
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