The Key To The Best-Tasting Canned Corned Beef Is The Seasoning

After learning what canned corned beef is really made of you might be more receptive to using this canned meat in your cooking. However, before you break out your arsenal of seasonings to make your dish tastier, remember that the beef was already cured with salt during the canning process and manufacturers further flavored it with pepper, sugar, and sodium glutamate. Therefore, using salt as your seasoning will only raise the meat's already considerable sodium level.

Instead, to build flavor in your corned beef dish, go for ingredients and flavoring agents that balance its saltiness. Since canned corned beef already turns out well with just a quick saute, squeezing some lemon juice on it before serving is a no-fail flavoring tactic. Cook the meat with the bit of liquid you find in the can, too. It's a by-product of the vacuum-canning process and is rich in umami flavor.

If you have a little more time for prep, chop up some garlic and onions. Saute these aromatics so the cooking oil is infused with their flavor then add in the beef. The garlic and onions will add a light sweetness and crunch to the dish. Let the meat cook until any gelatinous fat in it melts and gets reabsorbed into the beef. You can also use chili powder or hot sauce to give the meat heat, but make sure to add either ingredient with a light hand and taste as you season.

Pair corned beef with a variety of ingredients

You can also make corned beef-based dishes using other ingredients that will balance its natural saltiness. Potatoes are an obvious choice, with their starchy, fluffy texture providing a lovely counterpoint to the meat. That's a reason why corned beef hash and its various versions are treated as hearty comfort food by different cultures all over the world. 

Mushrooms and their earthy, umami flavor are also complementary ingredients to canned corned beef. Add them to your corned beef hash for an elevated dish or combine them with the canned meat for a deconstructed twist to the Japanese appetizer beef enoki rolls. Let Asian flavors come through by stir-frying minced garlic and shredded ginger, adding the beef, flavoring it with mirin and cooking wine, then tossing in the mushrooms. Drizzle sesame oil on the dish, too, for nutty, toasty sweetness.

Canned corned beef is also good cooked with tomato sauce for a rich stew that can be served over steamed rice, or reduced down to become a spaghetti sauce. The two go well together since the tomatoes' mild sweetness and tanginess should balance the sodium in the meat. For richer flavor, cook the tomatoes with corn kernels, diced potatoes, oregano, and dried bay leaves for a few minutes before adding the corned beef. The corn will bring welcome bursts of sweetness with each bite while the potatoes absorb some of the liquid in the stew, mitigating any extra saltiness.