Analyzing 3 Different Types of Wagyu: Japanese, Australian, and American
Thanks to the generosity of The Meatery, I had the pleasure of sampling three different kinds of wagyu beef. For those of you who don’t know, wagyu beef is rich and highly marbled beef that can come from Japan, Canada, America, and Australia. Japanese wagyu beef is cultivated through rich traditions to create the most delightful and succulent bite you have ever tasted. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be able to eat a whole steak of Japanese wagyu like you would a regular steak. That is where Canadian, American, and Australian varieties come in. Black Angus beef has been bred with purebred Japanese wagyu cattle to create beef that is full of the fat and flavor that is the embodiment of Japanese wagyu but with the eatability of a down-home, dinner steak. In this article, we will be analyzing three different types of wagyu, Japanese, Australian, and American.
To fully understand and appreciate the differences between these steaks, they were all the same cut, the ribeye, and all prepared in the same fashion. They were salted, then reverse seared and rested before slicing.
Visually, you can definitely see that there is a difference between each ribeye. From left to right, you can see the Australian, the American, and the Japanese A5 wagyu. The Australian has a marbling pattern more akin to the Japanese while still retaining that ruby coloring of a good steak. The American has beautiful marbling and deposits of creamy fat typical of the ribeye cut. And finally, the Japanese A5 wagyu is so full of marbling, that the steak is nearly white.
Both the Australian and American wagyu steaks are about an inch thick (2.5 cm) while the Japanese A5 wagyu is around half an inch (1.3 cm). The Japanese steak is cut thinner because the meat is far too rich to be eaten in the same fashion as any North American Steak. The price and quality of Japanese wagyu is indicative of the love and care that goes into the raising of the cattle. So, while the Japanese A5 wagyu may be thinner, the price will be the highest of the three steaks.
While it is abnormal to cook a thinner steak using the reverse sear method, I wanted to provide the same conditions to all steaks for an equal playing field when it came to the final tasting. Reverse searing should be the go-to technique when you want to ensure the perfect steak. This involves cooking the steak using low, indirect heat until the perfect temperature is nearly reached, then, searing the steak over direct, high heat, until finished. Naturally, the thinner, Japanese A5 wagyu was done first, and I removed it to rest. The American was finished next, followed by the Australian. They all clocked in at around 120°F (49°C) when they were removed from the heat. All steaks rested at least 10 minutes before being seared over direct heat. I divided the Japanese wagyu ribeye in half to see what different searing techniques would be like. I used a well-preheated infrared sear station to provide the sear marks, noting that the Japanese A5 wagyu flared up the least and required the least amount of time to achieve sear marks. I also used a cast iron pan to sear the second half of the Japanese ribeye. The Australian also did not flare up as much, but the American did flare. This could be due to the large fat area in the middle of the steak which is typical of most ribeyes. They all took to searing beautifully.
This is the moment you have been waiting for. What do these steaks taste like? Again, to keep the playing field as even as possible I only seasoned these steaks with salt. They were cooked in the same manner and properly rested before slicing.
What Does Japanese A5 Wagyu Taste Like?
Japanese A5 Wagyu is the highest quality of steak possible. The fat striations create a butter-like texture and mouthfeel. When you bite into this steak, it is so soft that there is no force needed. The meat literally melts on your tongue, coating your mouth with the most unctuous and delightful flavor of beef. It is at once light but intensely beefy. While there is nothing you would love more than to eat this non-stop forever, a Japanese A5 wagyu steak is almost too rich. Paired with other flavors like a lightly vinegared salad, seasoned sticky rice, a crisp and hoppy beer like Sapporo, or red wine that is fruit or citrus-forward, you will find yourself with a dining experience that you will be talking about for a long time.
What Does Australian Wagyu Taste Like?
Australian wagyu has a texture that you are more familiar with when it comes to steak. While intensely rich, it is not so rich, you wouldn’t eat one as a meal yourself. This is an eating steak. The flavor is deeper and beefier in the same way that all coffee is coffee, but the taste depends on the region and the roast. There is less fat coating your tongue as you eat so it is less buttery, however, Australian wagyu still has quite a pleasant texture. The meat is easy to chew without quite melting away on your tongue. This creates a very satisfying meal. The typical accouterments would pair nicely with this steak, red wine – a cabernet – and baked potatoes wouldn’t be out of the ordinary here. This one surprised us as the unanimous favorite out of the bunch, as taste tested by four different people. The Australian wagyu features the best of both worlds, in both flavor and texture.
What Does American Wagyu Taste Like?
American wagyu presented with the least amount of marbling, visually among the three steaks. That doesn’t mean that it is not an incredible steak at all. This ribeye is representative of the highest quality of steaks you can get and is part of the top 2 to 3% of available beef on the consumer market in the United States. This prime cut had a deeper, darker flavor, think similar to dark roast coffee, when compared to the Japanese and Australian. This steak is one that you would be pleased to splurge on. The American wagyu will not melt away in your mouth but provides a satisfying chew. It is by no means chewy or tough, but the bite is an enjoyable sensation while still being succulent. It would not be unusual to see a steak like this paired with baked, roasted, mashed potatoes, or even fries. Seasonal green vegetables, a dry red wine, cabernet, shiraz, or merlot would pair beautifully, as would an IPA beer.
No matter which you choose, as long as they are cooked properly, all three of these wagyu ribeye steaks from The Meatery are spectacular. They are easy to cook to perfection and will make for a meal that will be talked about for ages. Whether you are celebrating or just want to treat yourself, a wagyu steak is going to please. Will you try wagyu? Have you already? Tell us about your wagyu experiences by sharing your stories, photos, and recipes on our social pages like Facebook and Tiktok using the hashtags #NapoleonEats and #NapoleonGrills.