You find a Wagyu steak on the menu…with a hefty price tag beside it. And you wonder – what’s all the hype about a Wagyu steak!? Let’s find out.
What is Wagyu beef?
Wagyu when translated in Japanese means “Japanese cow”. So, there’s your first clue to what Wagyu is. Beef that originates in Japan. In the 1880s, cattle from Europe were introduced to Japan, where they were crossbred with Japanese cattle. Out of this crossbreeding, there are four types of Wagyu cattle: Black, Brown, Shorthorn, and Polled.
Japanese Black – Wagyu Black is deliciously tender and almost melts in your mouth. The reason for this is the wonderful marbling of fat throughout the meat.
Japanese Brown – Also known as Akaushi beef, if you’re looking for a milder taste with less fat throughout your steak, Wagyu Brown delivers.
Japanese Shorthorn – Wagyu Shorthorn is lean and a little on the savory side.
Japanese Polled – A Wagyu Polled steak is gamier than other Wagyu, with a meaty rich flavor.
Most strains of Wagyu come from the Japanese Black, with it’s superior marbling and smooth taste.
Extraordinary Wagyu Marbling
The marbling found in Wagyu beef is extraordinarily superior to other meat. If you need a reminder, marbling is all about those little lines of fat throughout the meat. Not just on the outside of the meat, but inside within the muscle as well.
The marbled fat melts at a lower temperature than other beef. This means your steak has a buttery and rich flavor that almost melts on your tongue. Another bonus is that Wagyu meat is considered to be more healthy than other beef – the fat in the meat is high in Omega fatty acids and unsaturated fat.
So, it’s this marbling of fat that makes a Wagyu steak so superior and pricy.
Wagyu and Kobe beef aren’t the same
There’s a misconception that Wagyu and Kobe are the same thing. Kobe beef is considered to be the best of the best. It’s the most expensive meat you can buy – and probably the tastiest you’ll ever eat. Kobe is everything that Wagyu beef is, and then some.
There are different strains of the Wagyu Japanese Black cattle, such as the Tajima-Gyu. These varieties are the most popular and sought after, and from here we get Kobe beef.
Kobe needs to meet several criteria before it’s sold as authentic Kobe beef. Not only does it need to come from the Tajima-Gyu lineage, it needs to have a superior rating. The marbling rating needs to be 6 or higher on a scale of 12. And the meat quality must be 4 or higher on a scale of 5. That’s a lot to live up to in the world of beef.
And it all adds up to an expensive steak, with a price per pound of over $200.00.
Enjoy your Wagyu!
The first tip when eating a Wagyu steak is to take your time, savoring each delicious bite. This is a dining experience you don’t want to rush through!
Choose wisely when pairing Wagyu with other foods. You want the Wagyu to be the main highlight of your meal. Lightly sautéed root vegetables are a good choice. As is a crisp green salad that’s lightly dressed with just olive oil. Heavier side dishes, such as your classic serving of fries, can weigh down the Wagyu and deter from its buttery flavor.
When it comes to your alcoholic choice a deep red wine, such a Merlot, will pair nicely with the beef. Sake and beer are other options, complementing the Wagyu and making this a meal you’re not likely to forget anytime soon!