Good times and great flavors are the perfect pairing, and if you’re looking for the best and tastiest beef, then you should be looking for wagyu beef. But what makes it so special? The word “wagyu” comes from Japan, and the meat comes from one of four very special breeds of cow. The meat is highly prized for its marbling – well-distributed intramuscular fat that makes the meat moist, rich in flavor, and super-tender.
Wagyu beef isn’t only produced in Japan these days, and that’s why you find variants like sous vide american wagyu english cut short ribs – a combination of Japanese-style wagyu from American cows, cut in the English way and cooked using a process from France. That’s quite the world tour!
With the Japanese being famed for being very particular about their food, it should come as no surprise that Wagyu isn’t just any old beef. A stringent grading process is applied, grading cuts on a scale of one to five based on criteria such as the marbling and the color of the meat. The very best of the best Wagyu beef doesn’t come cheap. But since it’s so special, it’s not meant to be an everyday dish.
Unfortunately, folks who are hoping to sell meat for more will sometimes label beef as Wagyu even though it doesn’t make the cut. At the same time, it is possible to get locally produced Wagyu since farmers have imported the special Japanese cattle breeds so that they can benefit from the high demand and high prices for Wagyu beef.
Even if you aren’t an expert, you should be able to spot beef that fits the basic criteria for Wagyu. The main thing to look for is the marbling – streaks and dots of fat through the meat. Since the fat is white and well-distributed, the meat isn’t a typical red in color. Instead, it’s pinkish.
Wagyu produced in America doesn’t always come from purebred Wagyu cows. They’re often crossed with Angus cattle to make them more robust. That means less marbling, but still a tasty cut of meat, and since it costs a lot less than imported Wagyu, you might still consider choosing it even though it isn’t absolutely authentic.
Looking for guaranteed authentic wagyu prepared the Japanese way? If you’re lucky enough to be traveling to Asia, you’ll find this gourmet treat in the top restaurants.
Needless to say it would almost be a crime to treat Wagyu like regular beef once you have it in the kitchen. Savor it at its best by taking extra care in the cooking process. To begin with, never cook it straight out of the fridge. First, let it stand so that it reaches room temperature. All that fat in the meat makes it cook more quickly, and if you have really good Wagyu, stick to the stovetop rather than placing it under the grill where the fat might catch fire.
Finally, don’t smother it with sauces. The whole point of buying meat this good is to enjoy its natural flavor with just a hint of seasoning to enhance it. Salt and pepper are all you need.
Once you have your perfectly seared steak, it’s time to discover what’s so special about Wagyu, and the real reason lies in the taste! Enjoy!