In 2013, while visiting the USA, I made an online purchase for the Oaktown Jerk brand of jerky. The next review will focus on a 2 ounce/56 gram bag of their Mandarin Szechuan flavor of beef jerky.
The Oaktown Jerk jerky brand name is manufactured and distributed by Oaktown Jerk, LLC, based out of Alameda, California, which is located near Oakland. Oaktown Jerk advertises their jerky as being ‘artisan‘, meaning everything was done by hand, making this hand sliced jerky.
Ingredients: Contains All Natural Beef, White Sugar, Soy Sauce (Water, Soya Beans, Wheat Flour, Salt, Potassium Sorbate), Fresh Mandarin Juice, Vinegar, Garlic, Ground Szechuan Pepper, Thai Chili, Sesame Seeds, Ginger Allergen Warnings: Soy, Wheat and Sesame
Oaktown Jerk advertises the beef they use as being ‘all natural’. The highly regarded certified piedmontese beef is used, where the beef is ethically raised, meaning no growth hormones or additional antibiotics were administered. As another bonus, the cattle had at least partial free range access to graze on grass as part of their natural diet, the way nature intended.
The liquid marinade is comprised of an average soy sauce, very good fresh mandarin juice, and healthy vinegar. Any juice that is freshly squeezed will be far healthier than the juices you buy in a supermarket.
Thai chili peppers is what gives this jerky its hot spiciness, and to a lesser degree the Szechuan peppers. It’s a common spice in Asian cuisine, and healthy if eaten in moderation. It’s great to see that the super healthy vegetables garlic and ginger were also used.
There is no nutrition facts table provided. As a result, the exact sugar and salt levels are unknown.
This jerky does qualify to have no sodium nitrite added. Instead, salt is the main preservative, and vinegar to a lesser degree. There is unhealthy potassium sorbate used as a preservative in the soy sauce, although it was not designed to withstand the drying process with jerky. Admirably, there is no MSG added.
Very Good (9/10) – Ingredient Rating
These hand sliced jerky strips are medium, to medium thin in thickness. Being a small bag, the strips can be a maximum of six inches high in length. While not right or wrong, this jerky is sliced against the grain, instead of the more common slicing with the grain. As for the jerky texture, it has a great mix of being dry, but certainly not overly dried, where these jerky strips are relatively easy to chew. There are no visible signs of fat, and handling this jerky leaves very little oily residue on your fingers.
Oaktown Jerk tends to concoct some exotic flavors, this jerky being Mandarin Szechuan, which is a style of Chinese cooking with a long history that is spicy, oily and sometimes especially peppery. Modern Szechuan cuisine consists of these seven basic flavors: sour, pungent, hot, sweet, bitter, aromatic, and salty.
With this jerky labeled as medium hot, it is just that. There is a great spicy, hot flavor, but not too hot. Overall, there is a sweet, pleasant flavor with this jerky. The fresh mandarin juice is mildly noticeable.
While sesame seeds are second last in the ingredient list by weight, they still have a dominating taste, perhaps too much. The sesame seeds are very visible on the jerky also. There is only a very mild salty taste, and the soy sauce taste is fairly mild also. The peppered level is at about a moderate level.
I paid $6.00 for this 2 ounce/56 gram bag, which works out to $3.00 an ounce. According to the Oaktown Jerk web site, it seems that the minimum sized bag you can purchase is 3.4 ounces/96 grams for $10.00. That would work out to a slightly better price of $2.94 an ounce, which would rate as an expensive price. Considering the great quality used here in this hand crafted artisan product, this jerky is worth your money.
We have a fairly small plastic bag here, silver in color. Kind of surprising is that the bag is resealable, which is somewhat unusual for only a 2 ounce/56 gram bag. On the front we have two labels. One label for the Oaktown Jerk logo, and another label for the ingredients. The back of the bag only has a best before date printed on a price sticker.
The majority of bag categories are covered here. Some categories missing are a nutrition facts table, no allergen alerts, no blurb about Oaktown Jerk, LLC, no slogans, and the jerky weight is not stated in grams.
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