One day this random post got my attention while going through my Instagram feed. I came across this video where I saw a new variety of beef that’s been used in burgers, sandwiches. The Japanese Wagyu Beef is a sensation in the cuisine industry and has taken over social media as well. The name is just like the crown of gourmet food, not just in Japan but worldwide. So what are the reasons that make this piece of meat so coveted?
The Japanese Wagyu: A name creating wonders
It’s the land of Japan is where it originates and the name itself is no different. When we break it down then Wa means Japanese & Gyu means Beef. So WAGYU is the generic term used in this country for beef. But the one which is making the headlines is not just any ordinary beef. The luxury version of this meat is just above par and mentions a breed whose cultivation is nothing less than “an art”.
Now if you go down to feed your curiosity about the Japanese beef then you get these four types in our list. They are Japanese Brown, black, shorthorn, and Polled, the four native breeds of Japan producing the best of Wagyu. Then you have the modern Wagyu which is a cross between the imported cattle such as Korean, Devon, Brown Swiss, etc. and the native ones used in Agriculture.
Fact Check: For those four native breeds to produce Wagyu in major quantity, crossbreeding with other cattle varieties is restricted.
Kobe Beef is the one name you must have come across recently. It is the most expensive beef in the world and butchered from the Tajima breed. The price is nearly 3 times the imported European meat found in the Japanese market. Why? Because of its special genetic qualities that makes it extraordinary in taste as compared to regular Wagyu beef.
The mesmerizing marbling appearance of Japanese Wagyu
I don’t want to exaggerate but my eyes were glued to the screen the first time I saw this piece of meat. The amazing and intense fat marbling in the meat just makes it stand apart from the regular beef. Honestly even watching that piece of steak is a treat for the eyes for me.
Now a small info related to marbling would be easy to for you to understand. It is the intramuscular fat inside the meat that forms streak patterns giving the meat a marble like appearance. When you look at a Wagyu steak, the white fat streaks mingling inside the meat forms a kind of web and this results in soft texture of the beef. You’ll feel the flavor with each and every bite.
What makes Japanese Wagyu beef most expensive in the world?
Kobe, Ohmi, and Matsusaka top the list of most expensive beef in the world. But Kobe is the face of Wagyu beef and the meteoric rise in its popularity says everything about it. In the world of cuisine, it is considered a statement of luxury now a day. Another interesting fact is these Japanese cattle can only be raised in Kobe, the capital of the Hyogo province in Japan as the climate and other conditions are suitable.
The rearing or say upbringing plays a major role in the quality of the beef. The guidelines issued by the Japan Meat Grading Association related to rearing and feeding are strictly followed by the breeders to qualify for the Wagyu mark. Let’s check out the process and hard work that goes into producing the finest beef in the world.
- The breeders limit the cows’ movement and they’re forcefully fed so that a fatty tender meat will be in the creation process.
- This is a bit surprising but a stress-free environment is necessary for a cow from birth to garner and the breeders make sure for it. Stress produces cortisol which results in deteriorating the quality of beef. They are sometimes brushed with a stiff brush that increases the blood circulation and relieves stress
- The feeding process is different too. The pregnant cows and breeding cattle are grazed on rich meadow pasture where they can be easily monitored where as the calves are fed in a different way. A replacement of milk is fed by hands which results in better marbling of the meat
- Now the most amazing part is each and every cow has an issued birth certificate and you can trace down every single piece of steak coming from any cattle. This signifies how much organized the entire process is.
Tajima Cattle – The ancestral root of Wagyu variety
Since ancient times the Tajima cattle have been used for farming and are the ancestor of the four native breeds of Japan. Like I mentioned earlier, Kobe beef also comes from Tajima and the crossbreeding with the European cattle since ages has made the meat extraordinary in taste.
Key Point: The four native breeds too are born from cross breeding of Tajima with the European breed.
Wagyu can be found at specialist butchers only & some supermarkets too and the price can be really hefty. So be prepared to pay up to $150 for a pound of meat.
The Grading system of Wagyu
There’s a score given to each piece of meat-based on its yield from A-C. Few other factors that are considered are marbling, color, texture, and the overall quality where a score is given from 1-5. So it’s quite obvious that the highest yield grade is A.
A5 is the highest yield mark and signifies the best quality Wagyu. The best in the business falls under A4 – A5 marking range.
- A-C: It is the yield grade where A is the highest
- 1 – 5: It is the quality grade which is determined by 4 above mentioned criteria where 5 is highest.
Other tier 1 countries such as the US, UK and Australia follow this Japanese Grading System . But you can’t always expect to get genuine Japanese Wagyu beef in those countries unless it is from Japan and carries the Wagyu mark. The regulations or guidelines are not as strict as Japan and for a marketing gimmick, the term is thrown around now and then even the piece of meat is not the luxury version. Instead, they can be called half Wagyu which is crossed with other local breeds.
So how would you like to have the most desired and exorbitant meat in the world? Well people like to eat their meat in many different ways. The Japanese prefer small cuts and don’t always go for the classic steak. Various assortments of cuts such as sirloin, ribs, chuck flap, and other delicious cuts too. Some of the famous recipes are Sukiyaki and Yakiniku.
In the west people are more fascinated about steak and grilled steak is always on the cards while eating out. The Japanese Wagyu beef is a soft and tender meat but the high content of fat in it makes it not appropriate choice while ordering a steak.
Keyword: Wagyu beef, Wagyu Steak, Kobe beef, Expensive beef, Luxurious steak