Wagyu is a premium beef that is known all over the world. It stands out because of its beautiful wave of marbling on its meat. This distinctive layout of subcutaneous fat is responsible for the delightful texture and exquisite taste of the beef.
This meat is always tender, as well as has a melt in your mouth quality, and it can be enjoyed plenty of ways. But, the world seems to enjoy it the most as steak. If you go to the best steakhouse in your area, for sure, you will find Wagyu among the prime menu offerings of the establishment.
But, are you aware that there are different types of Wagyu beef as well? For instance, do you know that what’s believed to be one of the finest Wagyu beef in the world comes from Matsusaka Mie Prefecture in Japan? Or that Wagyu cattle are not all bred in Japan? Countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are known to breed their own Wagyu cattle to supply local steakhouses.
Indeed, there’s so much to learn about this top-class beef. Here are other fascinating facts about Wagyu.
- Among the 2.7 million beef cattle in Japan, two-thirds of these are classified as Wagyu.
- There are four prominent Japanese breeds of cattle that produce Wagyu beef. They are the Japanese Brown, Hornless Japanese Polled, Japanese Shorthorn, and Japanese Black.
- The cattle used to produce Wagyu beef are not entirely Japanese breeds. Some are a cross-breed of older Japanese varieties and carefully selected foreign breeds.
- The Japanese Brown cattle produce leaner red meat, and they are bred mostly in Kumamoto and Koji. This beef is tasty, and aside from being prepared as steak, it’s also a popular option for Sukiyaki.
- The Hornless Japanese Polled cattle, on the other hand, is found only in Yamaguchi. There aren’t too many of them, which is one of the reasons why the price of their meat can be quite steep at times.
- As for the Japanese Shorthorn, it is bred mostly in the Tohoku Region and Hokkaido, the far north of Japan. These cattle are allowed to roam about and take in the pure environment of the cold regions.
- The Japanese Black, meanwhile, is the most common of the Wagyu beef. They are everything most people know about Wagyu. They are heavily pampered. Therefore, they have the best marbling among all Wagyu beef varieties.
- There’s a 12-level beef marbling scale in grading Wagyu beef. The highest grade is given to beef with the most lacings of subcutaneous fat between red meat. The Japanese Black from Matsusaka, Kobe, and Hida often get the highest grade.
- The breeding method used by every farmer is also a vital criterion in grading Wagyu beef. For this, farmers pay close attention to the feed, drinks, and activities of the cattle because all of these variables play a vital role in creating the beautiful marbling for the highest-quality Wagyu.
- Breeders can go as far as giving cattle sake (Japanese rice wine) every day as well as letting the cows listen to relaxing music. Reducing stress among cattle is believed to improve the tenderness of the meat.
- Genetics is also a top variable in ensuring the highest-quality of Wagyu beef. In the Hida region, where a newer variety of cattle for Wagyu is reared, there’s a particular bull that’s responsible for the highest appellation of Wagyu in the Hida region.
The bull’s name was Yasufuku. He is long gone, but his descendants still produce finely marbled Wagyu beef that commands the highest prices on the market.
- Marbling is no longer the only determinant of quality when it comes to Wagyu. In recent years, meat grading authorities have begun studying the other properties of meat to establish their quality. The amount of oleic acid in Wagyu beef, for instance, is considered an essential factor for taste.
- The cattle reared to produce premium quality Wagyu beef are often kept in small, individualized quarters. This is a must in ensuring that the cows do not develop muscles, which can alter the tenderness of the meat.
- Showing off the cattle that will be turned into Wagyu is a heavily detailed process. The cows are treated to extra pampering in preparation for the Wagyu Olympics. They are groomed to perfection and even massaged, so they photograph well for the portfolio shared with potential buyers.
Those are just some of the facts about the best quality beef for steak – Wagyu. If you love to treat yourself to the most delicious steak for special occasions, it’s nice to have such chunks of background information about steak. This can contribute to your overall steak experience. After all, steak isn’t cheap, it’s usually one of the most expensive offerings of any. Therefore, you should be able to get your money’s worth when you order it.
Chiara Bisignani is the F&B Marketing Executive at Saadiyat Beach Club. She oversees website maintenance, PR requests, marketing initiatives and all general guests’ enquiries for the company’s destinations of KOI Restaurant & Lounge, Boa Steakhouse and Caramel Restaurant and Lounge in Abu Dhabi.