Here's What Makes Vietnamese Jerky Unique

Beef jerky comes in many cuts, flavors, and styles, but did you know that it's prepared differently from nation to nation? Per Crockett Creek, Bak Kwa, which translates to "pork chip" is a type of jerky prepared on Chinese New Year. This variety is harder than what we're used to in the United States, and it's traditionally flavored with fish sauce, soy sauce, five spice powder, salt, pepper, sugar, and sesame oil. Another variation is Italy's coppiette, a type that was originally made with cured hard salami but has been updated to pork in the present day.

According to North Dakota State University, cooks used to extend the meat's shelf life using sun, wind, and leftover smoke from fires. Today, there're much more modern approaches to curing and drying raw meat for jerky, such as letting meats soak in sauce before drying the strips out in a dehydrator. Those with a deep love for jerky may have tried Vietnamese jerky, but for those who don't know, this isn't just any old beef jerky recipe.

Vietnamese jerky is traditionally spicy

California-based company Vua Kho Bo regards its product so high that its name translates to "king of beef jerky," according to The Washington Post. This company, which is actually owned by Taiwanese founders, service the Vietnamese market as well as the Vietnamese-American market. So what makes them special enough to earn such an esteemed name? Well, for one, they offer a wide variety, some cube shaped, others dry, and some sweet. Its products are flavored with lemon grass, curry powder, and chili flakes among others, however; Phu Quy proprietor Kim Nguyen has a different take on what Vietnamese jerky actually is. "In Vietnam, ours is a little bit spicier and not as sweet as Chinese and Hong Kong jerky. We like fish sauce. They like soy sauce. The soy sauce is a little bit sweeter," he explains. He also says this variety makes you drink more alcohol.

If you do choose to consume alcohol, Prevail co-founder Glen Kohn believes that beef jerky pairs best with an American lager or pilsner (via Forbes).  However, if it's a spicier flavor, it may fare better when paired with a dry stout. Lemongrass jerky, which his company produces, goes well with an IPA, according to Kohn. He also has an expert opinion when it comes to wine pairing. "Beef jerky tends to be quite lean, so you can go with a wine with lots of concentration like California zinfandel, Australian shiraz, or some American Syrah," he says.