Wagyu Beef: What You Need to Know About This Luxury Food

Like caviar or black truffles, wagyu beef—that supremely soft, fatty, umami-rich steak—has come to represent wealth. However, even the most experienced eaters frequently struggle to understand all the details regarding wagyu steak, no matter how many Michelin-starred menus this delicacy adorns.

What Is Wagyu Beef?

Wagyu beef, also known as “Japanese beef,” is a highly sought-after and prized type of meat that is known for its rich, buttery flavor and high levels of marbling. The term “wagyu” literally means “Japanese cow” and refers to a specific breed of cattle that is native to Japan. These cattle are known for their high-quality meat, resulting from a combination of genetic factors, careful breeding, and specific feeding and care practices. 

In this article, we will take a closer look at what wagyu beef is, including its history, production methods, and what makes it so unique. We will also discuss the different types of wagyu meat available and tips for cooking it. Whether you’re a foodie, a meat lover, or just curious about this unique and delicious type of beef, visit Beauty & The Butcher and try this delicacy. 

Differences Between Japanese and American Wagyu Beef

Japanese wagyu and American wagyu are both types of beef from cattle breeds that are considered “Wagyu.” However, there are some key differences between the two.

Japanese refers to beef from four specific breeds of cattle: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn. These cattle are raised in Japan and are known for their marbling and rich flavor. The meat is also highly sought after and can be quite expensive.

American wagyu, on the other hand, refers to beef from cattle that are descended from Japanese wagyu cattle but are raised in the United States. The breeding and raising practices for American wagyu may be different than those used in Japan, and the meat may not have the same level of marbling or flavor as the true Japanese one. American is also less expensive than actual wagyu meat. 

Why Is It Important How Wagyu Cows Are Raised?

Wagyu cows, also known as “Kobe beef” cows, are raised in specific regions of Japan, primarily in the prefectures of Hyogo, Okayama, and Kagoshima. Raising these cows is highly controlled and regulated to ensure that the highest quality beef is produced.

  • Diet: the diet of Wagyu cows is carefully controlled and consists primarily of grain, such as corn and barley. 
  • Living conditions: the living conditions of Wagyu cattle are also highly regulated. Cattle are raised in small herds and given plenty of space to move around. 
  • Genetics: the genetics of Wagyu cattle is also carefully managed. Only specific breeds of cattle are considered to be “true” Wagyu, and these breeds are highly sought after for their marbling and flavor. 
  • Traceability: Wagyu cattle are also traceable from birth to slaughter, which is vital for ensuring the quality and authenticity of the beef.

Why Is Wagyu Beef Expensive?

As mentioned before, wagyu meat is considered to be a luxury product and is therefore quite expensive, and here are the reasons why:

  • Limited supply: Wagyu cattle are raised in specific regions of Japan, and the number of these cattle is relatively small compared to other breeds. This limited supply contributes to the high price of the meat.
  • High demand
  • Careful breeding: the process of breeding Wagyu cattle is highly controlled and selective, focusing on producing animals with the desired level of marbling. 
  • Feeding and raising practices: this type of cattle is raised on a strict grain diet and is often massaged and given beer to encourage marbling. 
  • Shipping and import costs
  • Branding and reputation: e.g. some farms have a reputation for producing high-quality beef, and they charge more for their meat as a result.

Wagyu vs. Kobe Beef

Although they are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same thing. Wagyu meat refers to any beef from cattle that are considered to be “Japanese cattle.” On the other hand, Kobe beef is a specific type of Wagyu beef that comes from the Tajima strain of Japanese Black cattle and is raised in the Hyogo prefecture of Japan. For the beef to be labeled as “Kobe,” it must meet strict guidelines, including being from a specific strain of cattle and being raised, fed, and processed in the Hyogo prefecture. Due to the strict guidelines and specific region of origin, Kobe beef is considered the highest quality Wagyu beef and is highly sought after and expensive. 

What Is the Wagyu Rating System?

The system is based on several factors, including the marbling, color and texture of the meat, and the firmness and color of the fat. The system is usually based on the Japan Meat Grading Association (JMGA), which uses a scale of 1 to 5, with one being the lowest quality and five the highest.

The Japanese grading system is based on the ratio of meat to fat, known as the “BMS” (Beef Marbling Standard) score, which ranges from 1 to 12, with 12 being the highest quality and most marbled. Additionally, the meat color, firmness, and texture, as well as the fat color and quality, are also taken into account.

When you encounter Wagyu on a menu, it’s likely to be listed with an A4 or A5 classification, with A5 being the highest quality. 

Generally, beef with higher marbling scores will be more expensive than those with lower scores, but it’s also considered top-notch.

How to Make a Perfect Wagyu Steak?

Making a perfect Wagyu steak combines a selection of the right cut of meat, proper preparation, and cooking it to the desired level of doneness. Here are some steps to help you make a perfect Wagyu steak:

  • Choose the right cut: Wagyu steak is typically cut from ribeye or striploin, both known for their high levels of marbling
  • Seasoning: before cooking, season the steak with salt and pepper. A light coating of oil can also be applied to help prevent sticking.
  • Room temperature: remove the steak from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temperature. This will help the steak cook evenly.
  • Cooking: heat a cast iron skillet or grill to high heat. Once hot, add the steak and cook for 2-3 minutes per side for medium-rare doneness or longer if you prefer your steak more well-done.
  • Resting: once the steak is cooked to your liking, remove it from the heat and let it rest for five to ten minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute and makes the meat more tender.
  • Slice against the grain: this makes the meat even more tender.
  • Serve and enjoy!

If you want to eat the best wagyu beef in the Miami area, you should definitely visit Beauty & the Butcher. This restaurant will astound you with its fantastic service, ambiance, and cuisine.