Everything you Need to Know About Japanese Wagyu
Generally speaking, beef is beef, a steak is a steak, especially if you follow the Canadian and American grading charts. You know that from the spine of the cow down and outward the less tender the meat can get, but that is not so in Japanese Wagyu. But, what is Wagyu, where do you get it and is it worth the cost? Here is everything you need to know about Japanese Wagyu.
What is Japanese Wagyu?
Let’s get something straight out of the gate. There is Japanese Wagyu and there are other types of Wagyu – Canadian, American, and Australian. This article is only about Japanese Wagyu. Japanese Wagyu Beef is pure-blooded cattle – either black, brown, shorthorn, or the polled – and it gets the distinct flavor and marbling thanks to the type of feed and length of time it’s raised. Regular cattle raised for beef do not gain the intramuscular fat that the Japanese Wagyu Cattle do. The cattle themselves lead as stress-free of a life as possible, monitored closely in open-air farms to ensure their lives are as Zen as possible.
Isn’t Kobe supposed to be the best?
Kobe refers to the region in which the cattle were raised. Incredible Japanese Wagyu Beef can come from one of several regions located on the largest island – Honshu. All high-quality Japanese Wagyu Beef needs to meet a very strict set of values before it can be deemed Wagyu.
We discussed steak grades previously, however, the grading of Japanese Wagyu Beef scoffs at those levels and goes beyond. Most consumer Wagyu you will find in Japan will meet A-grade standards – the top quality and will receive a number grade from 1 to 5. One being the least marbled to five being most marbled. Most retailers will provide the grade on their meat, however, it is easy to see how well marbled a piece of Japanese Wagyu Beef is by the density and bright white color of the intramuscular fat.
What Does Japanese Wagyu Taste Like? How do you Eat Japanese Wagyu?
To say that Japanese Wagyu Beef is well-marbled is like saying that Disney World is a theme park. While it is true, it is also an understatement of epic proportions. Japanese Wagyu Beef can be described as buttery, melt in your mouth, succulent, and rich. It has the texture of perfectly cooked pork belly but the beef flavor is unlike anything you have ever experienced, even with the most expensive tomahawk or t-bone steak. Like how scotch coats the tongue, a bite of Japanese Wagyu Beef will do the same.
Because of that richness, and we’ll admit it, the price, Japanese Wagyu Beef is consumed in smaller quantities. Wagyu like this is best when shared with friends and eaten with other flavors to bring balance and enhance the richness of the beef. Experiment with acids, salt and pepper, spicy, garlic, and sweet flavors to pair with the beef. Don’t forget to have some plain, white, sticky rice as well.
There are several ways to prepare and enjoy Japanese Wagyu Beef. Teppanyaki style sears the outside of a piece of beef, then cuts it into slightly smaller strips – still at least 1-inch thick on all sides – and sears the cut sides too. Yakiniku style is incredibly thin slices that are cooked over intense heat for a very short amount of time. Japanese Wagyu Beef should not be cooked for very long and never past medium doneness. This is to ensure that you experience peak flavor and fat amalgamation. Japanese Wagyu Beef is not an eating steak in the sense that Canadian and Americans eat a steak. Bigger is not better in this case. In eating vast quantities of Japanese Wagyu Beef you can lose a sense of the quality and unique nature of the Wagyu flavor and texture.
How do you Buy Japanese Wagyu and is it Worth the Cost?
There are several online retailers of Wagyu Beef and a simple search will suffice to find you quality beef online. Remember to doublecheck that you are ordering Japanese Wagyu Beef as opposed to any other type of Wagyu. You should also be aware that the price will seem fairly high for what you plan to order. Keep in mind that you are purchasing the most prized beef in the world and literally shipping it from the other side of the planet. If you are looking to share in a dining experience that happens only once or twice in a lifetime, the price is definitely worth it.
Now that you have learned everything that you need to know about Japanese Wagyu Beef, will you search some out and feast with family? Share your experiences and recipes for Japanese Wagyu Beef on our social pages like Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtags #NapoleonWagyu, #NapoleonEats, and #NapoleonGrill.