Why is Wagyu Beef the Best? All You Need to Know About Wagyu Beef
Any lover of meat will know the term Wagyu; it’s known as one of the most prized and notably expensive cuts of beef you can find. But what is actually behind the expensive price tag, and what makes Wagyu truly the best? In this article we break down everything you need to know about the Wagyu beef – from its origins to mastering the perfect cooking method to create the best steak.
Where does Wagyu come from?
Wagyu beef originates from Japan and although the term ‘Wagyu’ sounds rather fancy, it simply means Japanese cow (Wa – Japanese, Gyu – Cow). The cattle were originally raised in Japan, where there are rigid guidelines to follow when it comes to this cut, one of the many attributes that makes Wagyu beef the best.
The meat comes from 4 different types of cow – the Black, ‘brown’ (also known as ‘red’), ‘shorthorn’ and ‘polled’. The latter two are not too common when it comes to global production and consumption of Wagyu, and you’ll most likely see meat from the Black or Brown cow served to you in restaurants.
To some surprise, Wagyu meat does not just have to be produced in Japan. Although this is where it originates, many other countries over the years have begun to try and raise and emulate the Wagyu produced in Japan via crossbreeding.
With ranches located in the United States and Australia, and soon the United Kingdom, eventually, Wagyu may become less expensive as it will be more regularly available to other countries and butchers across the globe.
In Japan, Wagyu is declared a national treasure, with some of the best Wagyu cows costing up to $30,000. This explains the heavy price tag $200 you may see when it comes to the Wagyu steak on your served to you in a restaurant.
One of the best Wagyu cuts is Matsusaka. It is also considered one of the most expensive in production and consumption, as in 2002, a Matsusaka cow was sold for 50 million yen in Japan, which equates to around $400,000.
There are more than 300 variants of Wagyu beef, but Kobe is the most notable cut. To find out more about the difference between Wagyu and Kobe, check our Wagyu vs. Kobe beef article.
Why is Wagyu the best?
So, what makes Wagyu beef the best?
Well, the cattle are raised in a very different manner to other beef cattle in the world. Wagyu cows are looked after extremely well, fed on a gourmet diet of rice straws, whole crop silage and concentrate, it aids in the flavour of the meat when it comes to slaughter. This helps produce some of the best Wagyu beef available to buy.
‘Olive’ Wagyu is one of the rarest cuts of Wagyu, and it is also considered one of the best Wagyu cuts in terms of flavour. The cattle raised for this particular meat have a by-product of olive oil within their feed, which gives the meat its rich, olive flavour.
Wagyu cows also have a longer life than regular beef cattle, living for approximately 3 years in comparison to 15 months. This is to ensure the cow has a high level of fat, usually, the animal gets to around 50% fat before the slaughtering process.
A Wagyu cow is raised and bread for physical endurance, and this method of breeding combined with type of feed the cow grazes on gives the animal more muscular fat cells.
This contributes to the marbling of the fat you see in a cut of Wagyu beef, and the marbling of the fat makes the meat look super tender, which is why it can sometimes actually look pink.
Before being served and passed as Wagyu, the meat has to go through a rigid and strict grading process, created by the Japanese where the meat originally came from. The meat is graded based on mainly the taste, texture, and the colour of the meat on a scale of 1-5, level 5 being the highest and best grade of Wagyu.
Anything below level 3 is classed as non-sellable, meaning only the best cuts of Wagyu can be sold.
BMS is also a grading process used when it comes to Wagyu, where it grades purely about the marbling of the fat on a scale of 1-12.
View our exquisite range of the best and most succulent BMS grade 7 Wagyu beef cuts here.
What does Wagyu beef taste like?
Wagyu beef is world-renowned for the incredible taste, texture and particularly the ‘melt in the mouth’ experience meat lovers get when they delve into this extraordinary cut.
As we’ve already stated, the Wagyu meat has exceptional levels of marbling throughout the cut, which makes it extremely tender and juicy. Unlike regular cuts of beef, the amount of fat within the Wagyu beef contributes to super fine its texture, creating an eating experience with an abundance of flavour.
One thing in particular that makes the experience of eating Wagyu beef so luxurious, is the melt in the mouth texture of the beef. Wagyu meat has a lower melting point than the human body, which means it literally does melt in the mouth as it lands on your tongue. Many eaters of the meat describe taste and texture as buttery.
The meat doesn’t need any extensive flavouring added, as it carries such a juicy flavour of its own. When cooking, it is recommended to simply add a dash of salt to the steak before or after it hits the pan.
Although Wagyu meat has high-fat content, this cut of beef is surprisingly healthy. Unlike regular meat, Wagyu is unsaturated in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which actually makes the meat good for you.
What’s the best way to cook & serve Wagyu?
Choosing your Wagyu
Choosing the cut of Wagyu depends on whatever suits your dish. Wagyu beef is available in the common cuts we know and love including Sirloin, Ribeye and Tomahawk – browse our range of the best Wagyu Iberico Meats here and select the cut that tantalises your taste buds the most.
If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, have a look at our range of delicious Cap of Rump steaks.
To create the perfect texture for the best Wagyu beef steak, you simply need two things – salt and high heat.
Chefs and many other meat-eaters state in order to create the best Wagyu, it should be served medium-rare, and no other way. Others like to eat it slightly rarer, which can be done with Wagyu due to its melt in the mouth texture caused by the fat marbling.
Whilst you pan begins to heat, melt in some butter ready for cooking. Many chefs recommend coating the pan with the fat of the Wagyu to bring out the optimum flavour in the meat.
Before adding the steak into the pan, it is key to ensure the pan is on a high heat and already hot, as the heat penetrates through the marbling of the Wagyu fat causing an abundance of flavour to fill the meat.
2 minutes on each side is recommended to get the steak to perfect medium-rare texture. Having the steak at this level brings out the rich flavours of the meat allowing for the perfect melt in the mouth experience with a crisp outer texture.
Wagyu beef is most commonly served on its own, as is considered a dish in itself due to the rich flavour it exudes. To balance this, Wagyu is recommended to be served with a lighter, crisp salad or some root vegetables, preferably sautéed.
Select the best Wagyu beef steak here and create a flavoursome experience in the comfort of your home. UK Delivery is available across all The Gourmet Market products.