You must be surprised with the price of Wagyu beef when you were shopping at the supermarket. And you are probably thinking, “What’s the fuss about Wagyu? Why is it so expensive?”.
Wagyu, which literally means “Japanese cow”, actually has four breeds of beef cattle. Those four main breeds are Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Shorthorn and Japanese Polled (an Aberdeen Angus cross).
When Wagyu beef is shipped, it will be using area names. For instance, you may have heard Kobe beef, Matsusaka beef, Mishima beef, Omi beef, Sanda beef and Yonezawa beef. Those beefs are several types of Wagyu Beef.
Wagyu beef is very desirable because of its tenderness, making it forever in the beef top chart. More than that, it has rich and buttery soft flavour. Thanks to Wagyu’s high level of marbling, you can now eat beef that will melt in your mouth!
However, it takes a lot of works to produce excellent Wagyu beef. For example, careful selection of genetics and feeding are needed. Really, wagyu’s rearing method is also complex and costly at the same time.
Here’s what happens in Japan. In order to qualify for the Wagyu mark, the Wagyu producers must follow strict guidelines.
First, pregnant cows and breeding cattle are grazed on pasture. The young Wagyu calves are fed in specific way with special feed. Notably, they are fed with a milk replacer by hand. Plus, they get jackets to wear when the weather gets cold. This way, the meat is going to have a lot of marbling.
Then, the young Wagyu calves stay on a farm until they are seven months old. They moved to the fattening farms after that, where they are raised in barns and given names.
The Wagyu cattle are kept on a diet of rice straws, whole crop silage and concentrate. It helped them to grow up to about 700 kilograms in around three years. Sometimes, they are brushed with a stiff brush to relieve stress and increase blood circulation. Bet it’s not that easy to be a Wagyu producer!
Not to mention the cost of distribution, it’s starting to make sense why Wagyu beef is so expensive. Yet, you may find Wagyu beef with lower prices, since the beef has grades. There are 100% wagyu beef, high percent Wagyu beef, or even Wagyu influenced beef. Only the beef with Wagyu mark that come from Japan is 100% Wagyu.
Other countries like Australia, United States and United Kingdom are generally produce 50% Wagyu beef (crossed with other breeds). Should you find Wagyu burgers or meatballs, they are most likely made with a mix of Wagyu trim and other meat.
Have you tried Wagyu beef before? Surprisingly, the beef is actually better not to be eaten as steak. It could be too fatty to eat, although wagyu’s fat is a soft fat with a low melting point (it is probably healthier fat than the regular saturated kind).
Since it’s from Japan, obviously Japanese knows how to cook it better. They usually slice Wagyu beef into thin pieces and cook it briefly. You might guess what’s the meal. Yes, Sukiyaki and Shabu-Shabu are popular dishes to eat Wagyu beef! And it’s in the best way possible.