For over a decade, Side Project Jerky has sought out the ultimate flavor journey through jerky. Partnering with talented chefs in test kitchens since 2012, founder Marcos Espinoza is driven to craft flavors inspired by a sense of place. It dates back to their first collaboration with Chef Sean Magee, whose idea to perfectly encapsulate the joy of eating a delicious bowl of pho was brought to life through a recipe featuring a signature blend of herbs and spices.
Most recently, during their collaboration with Chef Jen Carroll, she opened their eyes to the magic of the Berbere spice blend. Endlessly versatile and delicious, her Ethiopian-inspired creation packs sweet heat and citrus. Combining Rival Bros Whistle & Cuss blend with ingredients such as smoked paprika and balsamic vinegar, Chef Jonathan Adams replicates the sweet, smoky flavor of burnt ends.
They take great pride in preserving the magic of what Side Project Jerky discovered in the test kitchen and bringing it to the products that are now available on the shelf nationwide. Most of all, they aim to expand people’s palates beyond your standard jerky offerings. Bringing that consideration and creativity to beef jerky allows them to create the best representation of a place in portable snack form.
With a mission to honor cuisines from around the world, Marcos has had the pleasure of collaborating with Chef Jen Carroll, Chef Jonathan Adams, and Chef Sean Magee, some of Philadelphia’s most passionate and talented arbiters of food. Each of their core flavors was born out of a constant curiosity to understand and honor other cultures from places near and far, starting with a blank canvas of beef. Side Project Jerky has served as their collective creative outlet and culinary muse. This Side Project Jerky brand is distributed under the name of Side Project Jerky, LLC, and it is located in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania.
The first review on Side Project Jerky will focus on a 2 ounce/56 gram bag of Mongolian flavored beef jerky. This flavor is described as using soy, fresh ginger, and sweetened with brown sugar that would make Genghis proud. The bag was purchased at a Wegmans store in Niagara Falls, New York.
The beef used is not guaranteed to be free of growth hormones or additional antibiotics. Also, the beef is not guaranteed to have at least partial free range access to graze on grass. As a result, the highest ingredient rating that can be awarded is a Good (8/10) rating.
The sugar level is acceptable at 3 grams of sugar per 28 grams of jerky. The salt level is also acceptable at 330mg of salt per 28 grams of jerky.
SIDE PROJECT JERKY – MONGOLIAN BEEF JERKY
Written by guest jerky reviewer Paul Rekker
When I open the bag I smell the vinegar. There are sesame seeds all over the jerky. The jerky is soft and chewy, not quite my favorite, but nonetheless, we soldier on.
The first flavors I encounter are strong salt, which I like, not much sweet, two for two, garlic, onion, and vinegar. I am immensely enjoying this flavor as it is quite tasty. I don’t generally enjoy sesame seeds, but I like this flavor, sesame seeds and all, so I cannot see any reason to deduct a point, except maybe for the soft texture, but that’s just a personal preference, so a 10/10. Gentlemen?
Here is what Mark had to say about this Mongolian beef jerky flavor from Side Project Jerky: “Thanks Paul for the honest taste review. Side Project Jerky had been under my radar for many years as an exciting brand of jerky using wholesome ingredients. To my delight, I found Side Project Jerky at a Wegmans store. This marks the first time we have reviewed a Mongolian flavor, where I researched cuisine in Mongolia. Apart from mutton, no signs of this flavor being indigenous to Mongolia, using tamari sauce and sesame oil in meat. Mongolian or not, this is a wonderfully simple, perfectly fused blend of flavors.
At first, I thought you had to be a fan of sesame to enjoy this flavor. Knowing that Paul was not a fan of sesame, I asked him to eat his first strip in front of me. To my surprise, the omnipresent taste of sesame did not distract Paul one bit.”
“Added in are our favorites garlic and black pepper. Ginger is also used, which I often have difficulty detecting. The ginger seems to bring all the flavors together in beautiful harmony.”
“Perhaps most impressive is how this jerky resembles homemade beef jerky. In no way, shape, or form does this jerky texture come across as big brand jerky. I do not agree with Paul that the texture is soft and chewy. Chewy, yes, but not soft. These strips are small and thin at an arguably perfect balance between soft and dry. This jerky does provide a minor workout for your teeth, which is well worth it.”
“With Paul at a 10 and myself being an enthusiastic, emphatic 10 rating, an Excellent (10/10) taste rating will be awarded. Warning, this Mongolian flavor is highly addictive, with the 2 ounce bag gone in no time. Take a bow Side Project Jerky, and to the chef, a very enthusiastic two thumbs up!!👍👍 “
This stylish resealable plastic bag has everything imprinted on the bag, both on the front and back. There is an illustration of what seems to be a water buffalo on the front wearing a top hat. The background is interestingly a schematic.
A slogan printed on this bag is “Live Well. Eat Jerky.” Surprisingly, there are no facts printed.
Some missing bag categories are a transparent window to view the jerky losing a rating being a pet peeve, no facts printed oddly, the jerky weight not translated into grams, and to a lesser extent, missing a sesame allergen alert. A good blurb about this flavor is printed on the back. Handles are provided for Side Project Jerky’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram social media accounts.