Cowley’s Callback

Hello again everyone and welcome back to the third week in what I’ve recently decided will be a no sauce month. You know, to keep me on my toes a bit with a rather different selection of products.

Last week, I was going to feature a Mahi marinade but had to switch it out last minute for some tasty cheese truckles. I do need to actually show off a free sample or two at some point this month, though, so here’s some more vegan jerky from Cowley’s Fine Foods.


One sweet potato and one mushroom, a good indication of the range, now that they no longer seem to list their tofu jerky online.

At a glance, these products appear to only be slight variations on the sweet potato and mushroom ones that they sent me last time but I’m excited for them all the same.

The first of these, the sweet potato sort, didn’t impress me much in my last review but this particular product sounds a lot closer to the heatless “Texan Barbecue” variety I mentioned in my introduction to the company.

And, as for the “HOT Shrooms!”, well, if they’re anything like the “Shiiiitake! Thats Hot!” then I’m going to absolutely love them. Albeit at a rather leisurely pace.

Getting right in to it, the new sweet potato jerky looks almost identical to the old on my plate:

2018-03-31 15.49.18

All it’s lacking is the obvious chilli chunks but, even then, close inspection does show up a few familiar shreds of red and green.

For their “Hot and Smokey” (or is it “Hot and Smoke”? The way that the label is cut makes it hard to tell), this one is surprisingly mild, sitting around the same



as the jalapeño version. Maybe even on the lower end of that number, easily earning it a spot in the “mild” category.

What isn’t mild at all, though, is the rich, dark, soy sauce flavour that largely overpowers the sweet potato but forms a great base for the hints of smoke, ginger and garlic to work their depth-giving magic.

For being in what I was told would be a hotter batch of goodies, this jerky has disappointed me with its heat but it still has a good amount of chew and a very bold, tasty flavour.

A flavour that the packaging does its best to get across but doesn’t really succeed at, since the ginger, garlic and chilli on show all play second fiddle to the much harder to depict soy sauce.

But it probably still says more than today’s second product.

The HOT Shrooms!, as they call them are a blend of four different mushroom types – Porcini, shītake, oyster and granulatus – and all of those are scattered around its white label. Yet, for the actual flavour, all we have are a pile of superhots.

There are all sorts of chillies in the middle there, including brainstrains or reapers, a yellow 7-pot/pod and even what looks to be a chocolate ghost. Yet there are also milder green peppers, a possible habanero or two and even a nice, ripe, red jalapeño.

It’s a complete hodgepodge of everything from wimpy to world record level, with no thought to any overarching flavour profile. And it’s not what’s on the jerky, anyway.

Once I decanted it onto a plate, it was clear to see that the only peppers on this jerky were red.

2018-03-31 15.51.40

And, whatever they are, they’re red hot, too!

From the moment you bite into them, these mushroom pieces have a decent medium burn but, just as you think you’re over it, they ramp way up to a sharp, stinging



that peaks impossibly fast at the sides and tip of my tongue but also catches in the throat and does not let up for quite some time.

There is no mercy to these mushrooms!

I would recommend Cowley’s Shiiiitake! That’s hot! to those who love crazy heat but want to savour the flavour along with it. These, I’d say, are more for the people who want their head blown off. They’re a quick, vegan snack that will get almost anyone sweating and streaming from the nose.

And that’s not to say that they taste bad. They don’t. They’re rich, dried, umami-filled mushrooms with further enhancement from tamari soy sauce – A gluten free variation on the normal sort with subtle flavour differences that don’t really come across over the mushrooms themselves.

There are red chilli hints to them, as well, but no specific varieties that I can pick out and none mellow enough or berry-like enough in taste to be the reaper or brainstrain that I might have thought from the feel.

They’re good mushrooms but there’s simply not any intricacy to their chilli taste like there was in the shītake.

In terms of ingredients, the mushrooms contain:

Mushrooms, Tamari, chillies, paprika

And the ingredients list of Hot and Smokey sweet potatoes, obscured a tad by a hole used to hang them, reads:

sweet potato, so[XXXXX]e ( water, salt, soy beans, white sugar, wheat flour, e21[XXXXX]1, e627 ) chillies, garlic, ginger

Don’t worry too much about the unreadable E numbers, though. As in Midnight 21, they’re an ingredient to an ingredient, not a major component of the product in question. They shouldn’t do you any harm.

Nor, for that matter, will the heat but that’s little consolation for me after devouring half of the mushroom jerky and a few fingerfuls of the assorted sauces I keep around for comparison.

I need to go and get a drink.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next tuesday at the latest.

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