The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

12:33 PM

Food of the Week - Wagyū Beef

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

Wagyū Beef

Sliced Wagyū

For the fourth part in my series on beef and steaks, I would like to dedicate a short post to discussing the wonderful Wagyū from Japan.  This type of beef is taken from special cattle that are bred only in certain areas of Japan.  The most famous of these is Kobe beef, which come from black Tajima-ushi Wagyū cattle.  There are also several other breeds, raised in various areas of Japan, mostly in secluded mountain regions.

Kobe Steaks

Flavor and Marbling
Wagyū beef is known for its astounding marbling.  In fact, good Wagyū beef is more marbling than red meat!  The high fat content of this meat gives it an enormously rich flavor, and makes it very tender.  USDA prime steaks, which are considered to be some of best and most highly-marbled in the U.S., do not even remotely compare with the steaks like Kobe.
Wagyū beef has a delicate flavor, unlike much of the meat in the U.S. It is extremely tender and juicy, and contains a very large amount of fat, making it melt in the mouth.  The fat also lends a superb flavor to the steaks (or other Wagyū beef items).  They have a very high price tag to match their elite status in the meat world.

 Wagyū Sukiyaki

Wagyū cattle are raised in very specific regions of Japan.  The cattle are bred under strict conditions and rules, to ensure that the beef that results is appropriate to be labeled with the Wagyū name. The cattle are massaged with sake daily, and sake is often added to their diet of grain.  They are usually castrated, and the strict rules of products dictates that they are raised in specific areas, slaughtered in specific slaughterhouses, and that they meet certain conditions, such as a size under a specific weight, as well as marbling and meat quality conditions.  Otherwise, the beef cannot be labeled Wagyū.

Kobe-Style Beef
In the U.S., it is very difficult to find true Wagyū beef.  What is more popular is "Kobe-style beef" or "American Kobe" beef.  This type of meat is easier to procure, and also was thought to appeal more to the American market, who expect their meat to be red, rather than pink or white.  In the U.S., when meat is labeled as "Kobe," it is usually Kobe-style American beef processed in the states using cattle that are cross-bred with Wagyū cattle.
While this is one of the best meats available in the U.S., there is nothing quite like true Wagyū beef from Japan, which may very well be the richest beef in the world.

American Kobe Steaks

Fact: did you know that the various types of Wagyū cattle obtained their different qualities from the secluded nature of the mountainous regions of Japan.  This led to the development of different types of cattle, different styles of raising and feeding the cattle, and thus distinctive meat from each different type of Wagyū cattle.

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