It is undeniable that Japanese Wagyu beef stands among the most highly awarded and chef-revered foods in the world. But why is that the case? Authentic Japanese Wagyu is beef of the highest caliber, venerated the world over for its copious, intense marbling and rich fat content, which contributes to an ultra-tender texture and buttery flavor.
What Is Wagyu?
The word "Wagyu" simply means Japanese cow. There are four breeds of Wagyu, with the Japanese Black or Kuroge cattle making up the vast majority of Wagyu-producing cattle. This breed of cattle is exceptional because it produces beef with a much higher fat content that's more evenly distributed throughout the muscle fibers, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth texture with a delicate, buttery, slightly umami flavor.
- It's All About the Marbling
What makes Wagyu beef so special is its enormous amount of fine-grain, intramuscular marbling. The Japanese Kuroge cow is best-known for developing kaleidoscopic bursts of fat throughout its muscles. While most animals store their fat reserves on the top of the muscle, Kuroge cattle have streaks of fat threaded through entirely, creating a pattern of evenly distributed fat content that makes the meat uniquely tender. This is not the same chewy fat found at the edge of domestic steaks, and it will melt at close to room temperature and make for a luxurious dining experience.
- Wagyu Cattle Are Humanely Raised in Stress-Free Environments
To understand more about why Wagyu is the premier quality beef, we have to look at the heritage and raising practices used in the cultivation of Wagyu cattle. In 1997, Japan designated Wagyu as a national treasure and enacted an export ban on cattle, which has helped keep them almost entirely exclusive to Japan. The four cattle breeds that contribute to Wagyu production in Japan are highly cherished and allowed to live in comfortable, stress-free environments.
Humane raising practices are not only great for our consciences, they're also great for our palates. Allowing cattle to live a low-stress life - permitting them to graze, giving them roomy pens shared with only a few other cattle, providing a high-energy diet - helps them produce fattier, more tender meat. Stressed out animals tend to tense their muscles and use up the fat reserves that contribute to high marbling, so keeping them happy and relaxed is of utmost importance.
- Wagyu Beef is Held Up to Stringent Japanese Standards
Authentic Japanese Wagyu is held up to the most stringent standards of quality and heritage in the world. All Wagyu cattle are graded by the Japanese Meat Grading Association to ensure that consumers get only the very best quality, most beautifully marbled cuts of beef. What's more, in Japan, genetic testing is conducted, and cattle are sold with birth certificates to certify heritage. This attention to detail even lets you choose Wagyu raised in specific prefectures of Japan, like Miyazaki Wagyu or Hokkaido Wagyu.
But what about American Wagyu? Produced from a cross between Japanese Wagyu cattle and American cattle, American Wagyu beef can certainly take on some of the great qualities of authentic Wagyu. However, it is a different experience solely because it is not made from documented, 100% full-blood Wagyu. For those who treasure the typical hearty flavor of American meats but want a glimpse of the premium Wagyu experience, this is the beef for you.
See for yourself what makes certified Japanese Wagyu so special with an A5 Japanese Wagyu steak from The Wagyu Shop™.