Pastrami is essentially smoked corned beef. Cooks make corned beef by soaking beef brisket in brine, sugar and spices. People originally brined meat for several weeks to preserve it.
Pastrami makers sometimes use the navel end of the brisket because it has a large amount of fat that is able to handle the long cooking time required. Pink curing salt helps give pastrami its distinctive color. The curing process takes about two to four weeks and contributes to pastrami's tangy flavor and distinctive texture.
The cook rubs the meat with spices such as onion, garlic, pepper and coriander. This creates the dark crust on the outside of pastrami. Smoking takes a few days, and then the meat boils in water until fully cooked.