Wagyu is beef from Japanese cattle that refers to four unique breeds of purebred cattle: Kuroge (Japanese Black), Akage (Japanese Brown), Nihon Tankaku (Japanese Shorthorn), and Mukaku (Japanese Polled). “Wa” in Wagyu means Japan, while “Gyu” means cow. Wagyu cattle itself is a type of cow that handled with excellent care and breeds. One of the things that distinguish Wagyu beef from the others is its white marbling texture. The Japan Meat Grading Association grades it based on the yield grade, level of marbling, firmness, color to make sure its quality.
Wagyu Beef Trivia
- Wagyu is the most prized beef in the world, which can cost up to 36,000 yen per kg or about 332 USD
- Wagyu beef fat has a shallow melting point that can melt in your mouth.
- Of the more than 2.6 million cattle in Japan, 96.9% is the Japanese Black breed.
Kobe – It is the most revered beef in the world.
Tamija-Gyu – It is a strain of Japanese Black cattle.
Domestic Wagyu – A term given to cattle that are genetically Wagyu, but exported and raised in countries like America and Australia.
Kobe-Style – Refers to beef from Wagyu or Domestic Wagyu cattle whose meat matches Kobe standards, but was not born, raised, and butchered within Hyogo Prefecture.
Percentage Wagyu – A term given to cattle produced by crossbreeding Wagyu with other breeds and strains.
Yield grade – It is a ratio of meat to the total weight of the carcass.
Wagyu Beef Buying Guide
When buying Domestic Wagyu, make sure that you’re getting it from a reputable butcher or seller, who sources their beef from breeders that ensure pure bloodlines through controlled breeding. The brand of the beef indicates the areas where the cattle came from. The three most famous wagyu areas are Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture, Matsusaka in Mie Prefecture, and Ohmi beef from Shiga Prefecture.
For raw wagyu beef, choose thoroughly marbled meat. The color must be pink and not bright red. The fat is like little dots of white that is distributed throughout the muscle. If the meat is imported, the seller can tell you what prefecture it’s from.
Wagyu Beef Production & Farming in Texas
The farmers of Wagyu cattle take farming to a whole new level. They want to get a perfect quality of Wagyu beef, so they treated their cattle like a real king. Cattles are caressed, listened to music, and the farmer gives them an acupuncture and relaxation massage. They are sometimes brushed to increase blood circulation and to relieve stress. The farm is specially situated in a cold mountainous terrain, which is far from any crowds to avoid a stressful environment for the cows. The temperature in their cage is well-watched to avoid any extreme heat or cold changes. They wear jackets when the weather gets cold, and they are kept on a diet of rice hays or whole crop silage.
Young Wagyu cows are fed a milk replacer by hand. They stay on the farm until they are seven months old before they are sent to be sold to fattening farms. While they are on the fattening farms, cattle are raised in barns, and they are given names instead of just a number. They are allowed to grow up to about 700kg, which takes about three years. Each cow has a birth certificate that will identify its bloodline.
Domesticated Wagyu cattle first arrived in Japan around 400 BC. In the United States, only a limited number of Wagyu cattle were introduced in the early ’70s. According to the American Wagyu Association, there are estimated 30,000 Wagyu-influenced cattle being raised domestically, with less than 5,000 being full blood.
Japanese Wagyu cattle are bred with Aberdeen Angus cattle in the US. This crossbreed has been named American Style Kobe Beef. Wagyu was first competitively exhibited at the National Western Stock Show in 2012. Some US Wagyu breeders have full-blooded animals directly descended from original Japanese bloodlines, and they are registered through the American Wagyu Association.
Enjoying Wagyu Beef
Wagyu beef is rich in taste, has smooth marbling that will give you a soft texture, and unique sweet aroma. A good quality, high-grade piece of Wagyu will melt in your mouth.
Wagyu beef must be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Tightly wrapped it in cling film to prevent oxidizing. Don’t bring the meat to room temperature. Put it straight into the pan from the fridge to ensure that the fat renders gently.
If you will not cook it right away, place the wagyu beef in a vacuum-sealed package and freeze it immediately. It can last for up to 12 months in the freezer.
The Wagyu beef can be cooked in a variety of dishes, including steak and hamburgers. Imported cuts are better in the stovetop than the grill because the rendering fat can light on fire very easily. When cooking, remember that wagyu cook quickly because of the high-fat content, so it’s important not to overcook it. Remove it from the heat before it is fully cooked, and wrap it in foil. Let the meat rest in a warm place for 5 minutes for steaks or 15-20 minutes for roasts. Resting the beef also allows the juices to redistribute evenly, ensuring a tender, juicy eating experience. Use a meat thermometer to test the doneness of your beef.
One of the best-known Japanese dishes is Sukiyaki. It’s a thin-sliced Wagyu beef with sake, soy sauce, sugar, and egg. Shabu-shabu, based on a Chinese hot pot dish, dips blanched Wagyu beef in sesame or pon-zu sauce. Seiro-Mushi steams Wagyu beef with vegetables.
Wagyu is known for its high nutrient content. It contains a fatty acid known as Shimofuri that is rich in Omega-3, which has good cholesterol and is healthy for our heart. It also includes 30% higher unsaturated fat than traditional beef that gives the excellent savory flavor to Wagyu beef, and it gives it a higher proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids or good kind of fat, which does not increase your cholesterol.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin B12: It is an essential nutrient that is important for blood formation and your brain and nervous system.
Zinc: A mineral that is vital for body growth and maintenance.
Selenium: Essential trace element that serves a variety of functions in your body.
Niacin: One of the B vitamins, niacin, has various important functions in your body.
Vitamin B6: It is important for blood formation and energy metabolism.
Iron: Found in high amounts in beef, meat iron is mostly in the heme form that is absorbed very efficiently.
Phosphorus: It’s essential for body growth and maintenance.