WAGYU vs KOBE BEEF - FINCA SANTA ROSALIA
WAGYU OR KOBE? ALL ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF THE WAGYU BREED.
A few years ago almost no one, except that he was a true connoisseur of Japanese cuisine, had heard the word "wagyu". Back then, it was somewhat more common to hear about Kobe beef and Kobe meat in general. In these years, thanks above all to our work making known the incredible quality of wagyu beef, there are more who have heard this term. But many still recognize only the term Kobe, and believe that wagyu is something very different, when in fact it is not.
With this article, we aim to clarify once and for all what is wagyu and what can be called Kobe, in accordance with the rules that govern the Kobe designation of origin seal.
WAGYU VS KOBE: IS THERE SO MUCH A DIFFERENCE?
To begin with, a curiosity; purely, a Kobe meat cannot be such until after the animal is slaughtered. We'll tell you why right away.
For a better understanding, we will start from the premise that all Kobe meats come from the Wagyu breed, but not all Wagyu meats can be called Kobe, according to the regulations issued by the government of Japan to which we were talking about before.
Our wagyu cattle, although they are of 100% Japanese origin, are born and raised on our farm in Vizmalo (Burgos), with the same special conditions that characterize the raising of Kobe meat, but official regulations do not allow us to name it Kobe, we don't need to!
Whoever has tried our wagyu knows that the quality is not decided by the seal of any government, but the race itself (you will not find other wagyus like these outside Japan), the marbling of meat and the exquisite treatment we give to our cattle . For this reason, we can assure you that in terms of quality, our wagyu meat lives up to kobe meat, at least what any meat lover has in mind when they hear about the famous Japanese meat.
The real differences between wagyu and Kobe meat are born exclusively in Japan and, contrary to what many think, they are administrative rather than biological or culinary. There are four types of wagyu cattle, and only one of them, Tajima, is a candidate to become Kobe beef, after slaughter and if it meets all the specifications required by the appellation of origin seal.
TYPES OF WAGYU
Wagyu [和 牛] in Japanese means "Japanese res". It is, therefore, the breed of cattle native to the country of the Rising Sun.
Wagyu cows are believed to have that level of fat for survival. In Japan the winters are cold and the pastures are not especially rich in vitamin A. It is estimated that at some point in evolution they achieved the ability to increase intramuscular fat production, which today is characteristic of this race.
There are four lines within the wagyu breed:
JAPANESE RESER BLACK OR TAJIMA
Originally it was an animal used for farm work, which appears mentioned in Japanese texts as early as the 2nd century AD. Later, during the Meiji period (19th century), the breed was improved, crossing it with other foreign varieties, to be used for meat production. Black Japanese beef was certified as Japanese native beef in 1944 and is the most common type of beef in Japan, accounting for more than 90% of all Japanese native beef cattle. Its meat is characterized to have a high veining index (also called infiltration or marbling).
It is the one that grazes on our Vizmalo farm, and also the only one that can give authentic Kobe meat.
Tajima wagyu meat is usually referred to as Kobe meat, as the breed originates from that part of Japan, where the rugged terrain allowed it not to crossbreed with other animals for centuries and maintain unique characteristics. But, as we have advanced at the beginning and we will see in detail later, since 2015, to be able to enjoy the Kobe meat certificate it is not enough to come from this breed, but to fulfill a series of administrative and technical requirements.
JAPANESE BROWN RES
Also known as akaushi or red colored beef. After several crossings it was certified as a Japanese native breed in 1944. This type of bovine breed is characterized by having low levels of fat compared to the black breed (Tajima).
This type of beef is raised mainly in the Kumamoto and Kochi regions and accounts for about 5% of Japan's total wagyu production.
RES JAPANESE CUERNICORTA
It is a breed bred mainly in the Tohoku region (northeast Japan). It was certified as a Japanese indigenous breed in 1957 after several crosses with other breeds. Its meat is characterized by having low levels of fat and marbling as well as being rich in glutamic acid.
JAPANESE BEEF WITH HORNS
Breed certified as Japanese autochthonous in 1944 only after being crossed with the Scottish Aberdeen Angus beef breed. Like the short-horned breed of cattle, its production is symbolic. The meat of this type of beef is characterized by being leaner and rich in amino acids.
WHAT IS AND WHAT IS NOT CERTIFIED KOBE MEAT
To be Kobe meat it has to be wagyu, and more specifically, as we have seen, of "black" type cattle, in its Tajima variant. If this is fulfilled, they "only" must meet certain requirements:
- The beef must not have suffered from mad cow disease.
- The cow must be a virgin or a castrated male, always from the Tajima line.
- The beef must have been born in the Hyogo prefecture of a cow of the same variant.
- The cow must have been bred by a certified farmer from the commented prefecture.
- The cow must have been slaughtered by a certified slaughterhouse in the prefecture in question.
In technical matters, Kobe certified wagyu meat must meet the following specifications:
- Marbling index between 6 and 12 (this is perhaps the most important, because it is what really determines the tenderness and flavor of the meat; in this sense, the meat of Finca Santa Rosalía does not have to envy the one that does it receives the official name of "Kobe", since for example all our loins have at least an infiltration or marbling of 6 (specifically, between 7 and 8 for the complete loins, and between 6 and 8 for the loins in skin). of the marbling index, the fatty acid profile of the infiltrated fat is very important (determined by the feeding of the cattle) since in addition to conferring the final flavor of the meat, in the case of the wagyu of the Finca Santa Rosalía it also makes it heart-healthy, due to its high content of omega 6 and 9.
- A or B in the use of the res.
- After removing the entrails and the head, the weight of the beef must be equal to or less than 470 kg.
- The meat must be firm.
If and only if all these requirements are met, wagyu meat can be certified as Kobe meat.
ORIGINS OF THE WAGYU RACE OUT OF JAPAN
The wagyu breed is native to Japan and does not occur naturally anywhere else. In the 1970s some specimens of the Wagyu male were first exported to the United States from Japan. there, they were mixed with Angus cows.
The waygu part provided the massive level of unsaturated fat in the meat. The Angus, the quantity, since cows of this type are abnormally large.
In 1994 the first export of wagyu cows took place, so it was no longer necessary to cross males with Angus cows or any other variety, but for the first time, authentic wagyu cattle could be raised outside of Japan.
This is how our founder, Patxi Garmendia, met wagyu cattle, and since then he has become obsessed with being able to raise this cattle, in its purest form, in Spain, something that no one had done before and that many considered impossible. Garmendia did not stop until she managed to bring semen of pure specimens from Australia, to use it in purebred Wagyu cows that she bought in Japan.
That is the origin of the more than 6,000 specimens that graze now in our Vizmalo estate and that have made Burgos wagyu one of the most appreciated delicacies in Spain by good meat lovers. To find meat that is on par, it must be imported meat from Japan, something that only happens, and in very limited quantities, since 2014.