Cows that drink beer and that are massaged with Sake might sound strange to you but you will be surprise to discover that it produces extraordinary tender and full-flavored meat, called Wagyu Beef.
So what exactly is Wagyu beef?
Wagyu refers to all Japanese beef cattle, “Wa” meaning Japanese and “Gyu” meaning cow. It is classified into four breeds: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Poll and Japanese Shorthorn. The Japanese black breed represents 90% of all fattened cattle in Japan, with tender and super marbled meat that gives aroma and sweetness.
Wagyu beef offers an outstanding eating experience through its unique taste and tenderness of highly marbled meat. No wonder why the Wagyu beef is finding his way into the finest restaurants across the world. Not only it is a gastronomic delight, but it is healthy as well. Indeed health experts have discovered that the mono-unsaturated to saturated fat ration is higher in Wagyu than in any other beef, which means that the marbled meat of the Wagyu beef is more beneficial to human health.
In Japan, the production of Wagyu beef is highly regulated. Only the very best proven genetics are kept for breeding.
And to be certain of the quality and authenticity of the meat before it arrived in your plate, each carcase is sampled for DNA testing. The information given by the sample is stored with the identification number, so that if a beef has an illness, or any kind of problem, it can be easily tracked.
The Japan Meat Grading Association strictly judges the quality of the beefs. First they are categorized into three grades, A, B and C based on the ratio of meat on the carcase. Then they are categorized into further 5 grades under the following criteria:
1. Level of beef marbling
3. Firmness and texture
4. Fat colour and quality
This makes a total of 15 different grades of Japanese beef.
Wagyu beef, a unique experience
Wagyu beef is considered as one of the best forms of beef available in the world, and probably one of the most expensive too, often costing more than $100 per pound. Its tenderness, flavour and heavy marbling give the steak its satisfying mouthfeel. But in order to make the most of your experience, the meat should not be cooked further than medium rare or the fat melts away. It is the feeling of the meat melting in your mouth like butter that really makes Waguy beef an outstanding culinary experience.
The high price of Wagyu beef can be credited to the different techniques said to aid bringing out the flavour and texture. First, Cattle are fed beer during summer months to stimulate their appetite when the temperature and humidity depressed feed intake. The second practice that creates great interest is massaging cattle with Sake, a Japanese rice wine, to prevent soreness and to accentuate the marbling of the meat. Some say that cattle are also being brushed with Sake, as some Japanese producers believe that haircoat and softness of skin generate meat quality.
Even if there is no evidence that those techniques really improve any of the flavour texture or quality of the meat in general, it certainly helps keeping the myth of Wagyu beef.
To fully enjoy your Wagyu beef, you will eat it in thin raw strips, in tartare or better, watch it being cooked teppanyaki style. Teppanyaki cuisine offers you the amazing experience of having your meal being cooked on a hot iron plate right in front of you. Thus, there are no hidden secrets as you can witness the freshness of the ingredients used. And let’s not forget the entertainment provided by watching the chef expertly prepare and cook the ingredients, which gives a whole new dining experience!