In the U.S., we're used to pretty large cuts of beef. When it comes to consuming authentic Japanese Wagyu beef things are typically done a bit differently. Due to its rich, buttery flavor, larger portions can be a little overwhelming, so smaller cuts are often preferred. In addition, there's the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of Wagyu beef which makes delicate cuts more appealing. To truly savor every single bite, make sure you start off your preparation using these tips.
Against the Grain
The grain of the beef is the direction of the muscle fibers. Japanese Wagyu beef should be cut against the grain, meaning that the knife slices perpendicular to the direction of the muscle fibers. This contributes to the tenderness of the beef by creating shorter fibers that are easier to chew.
Note that finding the direction of the grain often takes a bit more effort than with other types of beef. That's because Japanese Wagyu has an abundance of intramuscular fat which helps to keep every cut delicate and luscious.
One of the best ways to celebrate the unique qualities of Japanese Wagyu beef is to cut it carefully. Compared to typical American beef steaks, Japanese Wagyu steaks are cut much thinner. Most are only 1/2" to 3/4" thick, with tenderloins sometimes cut a bit thicker at 1" to 2".
Because Japanese Wagyu beef is so tender and flavorful, they are best cooked quickly over high heat. The thinness of these cuts allows the beef to be quickly warmed just enough to melt the fat without overcooking it. The result is a melt-in-your-mouth bite that's utterly decadent.
Strips or Cubes
Japanese Wagyu beef is often cut into strips or cubes so it can easily be served in sukiyaki, shabu shabu or stir fries. The bite-sized approach has a similar effect as cutting steaks thinly; it assists in achieving just the right doneness to ensure that the beef remains especially tender and juicy. It's also an easier way to consume the beef if you plan to eat with chopsticks or dip pieces into a sauce or broth.
Keep these basic principles in mind if you plan to cut your own authentic Japanese Wagyu. This beef should be handled and cooked carefully to ensure you get optimal flavors and textures. For those who are used to American beef, the experience can be quite thrilling and eye-opening. Try Japanese Wagyu beef to taste steak in a whole new way.