Thin, flat pieces of lean beef, taken from the plate, brisket, or round, which are rubbed with seasoning, dry cured, smoked, and cooked to give it a firmer texture with a seasoned flavor. Cuts that may be used to make pastrami include the brisket, the beef plate adjacent to the brisket, the bottom round, the eye of the round, and the top round. The seasonings may include garlic, ground peppercorns, cinnamon, red pepper, allspice, cloves, and coriander seeds.
Pastrami is often made into a hot sandwich with rye bread, using a plate or brisket cut, which will provide a more moist and juicier meat when heated. Cold pastrami sandwichs can be made with leaner cuts such as the top round or eye of the round. Pastrami can be substituted with corn beef, which is similar in flavor and texture, but not as tender.