Sometimes referred to as Kobe beef, Wagyu beef is a world-renowned dish which is enjoyed as a high-quality foodstuff globally. Although Wagyu beef commands a high price in eateries in many corners of the earth, just as good quality cuts of beef can be found in a typical steak and seafood restaurant. So, why is there such a commotion when it comes to this Japanese beef? Does it really stand up to other prime beef breeds, such as the Shorthorn, the Angus or the Hereford? Let's take a closer look at Wagyu beef and why it is so lauded by restaurateurs and food critics all over the world.
The Origins of Wagyu Beef
The Wagyu breed originated in Japan in the second century but was not then regarded as a prime beef breed. Instead, Wagyu cattle were bred for their abilities in the paddy fields. Over time, this meant that Wagyu cattle became more and more distinct as a breed when compared to other types. Although whether Wagyu beef is of a genuinely higher quality than other breeds can only come down to personal taste, there is little doubt that Wagyu cuts of meat are distinctive. Therefore, it is better to say that Wagyu beef offers a singular flavour and texture because of its breeding origins and history rather than being 'better'.
What Makes Wagyu Beef so Distinctive?
For many lovers of steak and other cuts of beef, it is the marbling that is the key factor in how good it is to eat. And Wagyu beef certainly is marbled! Indeed, it has been described as more marbled than not, in many cases. Essentially, the cattle breed has a naturally high level of fat due to many years of breeding and this means that when it is butchered, most of the cuts that are produced from a Wagyu cow are much whiter and fattier in appearance than other breeds would be.
Locality of Origin
Like other premium foodstuffs, genuine Wagyu beef only comes from one part of Japan, the Miyazaki Prefecture. Confusingly, this has nothing to do with Kobe, which is in Hyōgo Prefecture. Because it has been so closely associated with being a premium dish, other sorts of beef are frequently marketed as Wagyu, but these should always be labelled as Wagyu-style. Australian producers have a great reputation for matching the quality Wagyu beef produced in Japan these days, so try it out if you are curious.
For more information, contact a local steak and seafood restaurant.