Itsumo Ahi Tuna Jerky is a brand we reviewed back in 2010 when it launched at the National Association of Convenience Stores Expo. Since then, the recipe has been tweaked a few times, warranting an revised review.
Itsumo is a Japanese word for "always", forming the basis of the brand's effort to always make tasty, healthy products. Itsumo's ahi tuna jerky is made from sashimi grade tuna, hand-line caught, using sustainable means to protect the ecosystem.
The brand further claims to be gluten-free, dairy-free, and minimally processed.
Yellowfin tuna, soy sauce, sorbitol, cane sugar, contains 2% or less of natural flavor, yeast, extract, spice, onion powder, ascorbic acid, spice, paprika.
The first flavor I pick up is a tuna fish flavor, followed by a light salt, further progressing into a mild soy sauce. The chewing brings on a more defined tuna sashimi, with a light pungent, radish-like flavor.
For being labeled, "Spiced", it stands up somewhat. It does have a lightly spicy seasoning, but still mild according to my personal heat scale. I think that it's more spiced compared to the company's "Sweet" variety, because without the sugar, the seasonings are more noticeable. I think it's appropriate the company named this "Spiced" and not "Spicy".
Otherwise, the primary taste profile is that of tuna sashimi, dipped in soy sauce with a touch of horseradish. It does have a faint sweet, with a wisk of pepper in the background.
The meat consistency looks good, with a fair number of sashimi-sized pieces, but well out-numbered by small bits and oddly shaped cuts. It's not oily or sticky, but rather dry to the touch. It doesn't leave any fishy smell on my fingers, nor waft any offending odors throughout the room. It's initially chewy, requiring a fair amount of effort before chewing down into something more soft. Once chewed down, it feels something comparable to sashimi, just more chewy, and even something similar to turkey jerky.
This Spiced variety from Itsumo Ahi Tuna Jerky brings out a bit more seasoning and pepper, but is still largely mild in terms of spiciness. It otherwise, mimics the taste of tuna sashimi, dipped in soy sauce, with a touch of horseradish. It's very comparable to the company's, "Sweet" variety I reviewed last week, but with much less sweet, thus bringing out more a bit more seasoning.
If you're looking for something that recreates the flavor and experience of tuna sashimi at a sushi-bar, this will give you some of that, but that's not what this snack is about. This is more about getting the benefits of eating tuna, such as the Omega 3's, the high protein, and the low fat, without having to open up a smelly can, or the sticky handling of smoked fish. If you look at it that way, Itsumo is awesome.
For just good old fashioned jerky aficionados, it's definitely a great achievement as far as jerking raw fish. If you love beef, bison, elk, and other red meat jerky, this ahi tuna may throw you back at first. But give it a chance to convince you, and you find yourself liking it.
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