The most expensive beef on the planet is unquestionably Wagyu. It is even considered a national treasure to Japanese. All experts and beef connoisseurs always place the expensive meat on a higher level. But what makes Wagyu so superior to normal steak? We're comparing Wagyu beef to regular beef today so you can see how they differ in terms of cost, melts in your mouth flavor, and even health advantages. This will help you understand why Wagyu beef is better and why you should eat it. Let's start now!
An Introduction to Wagyu Beef
The term Wagyu is rather self-explanatorily: Wa means Japanese , and Gyu refers to cattle in general. Therefore, "Wagyu beef" in Japanese means Japanese beef. Although Wagyu beef cattle originates from Japan, not every cow in Japan produces the highest quality beef that often appears on high-end restaurant menus. The fundamental difference comes from the genome of Wagyu cattle itself, which is considered to have the best genetics.
This means that other breeds, even if raised by the most "excellent" Wagyu farmers and under the same care conditions as Wagyu cows, cannot produce the "right" Wagyu flavours. But Wagyu Japanese cows nowadays are not only bred in Japan. In some countries, like the US or Australia, Wagyu farmers raise Japanese-style cattle that carry the same gene code as Wagyu cows, thus producing the same flavor and quality as Wagyu cattle from Japan. Thus, we sometimes have variations such as Australian and American Wagyu beef.
In addition, genuine Wagyu beef contains a very small amount of fat, is rich in monounsaturated fats, omega-6, omega-3, fatty acids, and low cholesterol than other beef. Therefore, using Wagyu beef helps strengthen the body's immunity, lose weight, prevent cardiovascular disease, and add significant anti-cancer substances.
Prominent Breeds of Wagyu Breed
Once being used as work animals, the following four breed of cattle are now considered national treasures and are primary breeds for Wagyu beef. These are the Japanese black cattle, Japanese brown cows, Japanese Polled, and Japanese shorthorn cows. Due to a natural network of intramuscular fat, known as marbling, these full blood Wagyu cattle breeds are genetically privileged and have better tenderness, melt-in-your-mouth quality, and a rich flavor. Of these, the most well-known of which are Japanese black cattle and Japanese brown cattle, which are distinguished by their marbling and slimmer bodies and light, mild taste, respectively. Japanese Shorthorn is appreciated for its savory flavor and is lean and high in inosinic and glutamic acid. Japanese Polled is distinguished by its rich, intense flavor and gamier texture. Notably, Japanese Black accounts for more than 90% of all Wagyu beef produced in Japan, making it the breed of choice for producing Wagyu beef.
Does Wagyu Beef only come from Japanese Cattle?
Other than the mentioned four breeds, other Wagyu cows nowadays are not only bred in Japan. Besides domestic, full blooded Wagyu cattle, in other countries, like the US or Australia, Wagyu farmers are breeding crossbred Wagyu. Thus, we have international cross breeding Wagyu cattle such as American Wagyu, Australian Wagyu, etc. One of the most famous cross-bred Wagyu cattle is "W-angus." Due to the crossbreeding of Japanese breeds with Aberdeen Angus cattle, one such hybrid cattle is frequently referred to as "W-angus.""
Variations of Wagyu Japanese Beef
Kobe beef is famous cut of steak from central Japan's Kansai region is Kobe, which is prepared from steers or castrated bulls. True Kobe beef is a breed of beef from the black Tajima gyu cow, a domestic Wagyu cow. They are raised according to the standard procedures of the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association. To be considered Kobe style, the Japanese cattle must be purebred (castrated) bulls or cows.
The name Kobe beef comes from the name of a city in Japan's Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Only purebred Tajima bred and raised in Hyogo are eligible to become Kobe beef. Plus, true Kobe beef must have intense marbling with the Beef Marbling Standard (BMS) must be above 6, which is different from the USDA Prime rating.
There is a certain import quota of Japanese steak to the US, which falls short of demand. Thus, a Wagyu industry has emerged in the US to produce Wagyu beef. In addition to the cattle breeding technique and rating system, the biggest difference between the two types lies in the different breeds characteristics: Japanese Wagyu breeds of cattle are purebred, while in the United States they are hybrids. Therefore, American Wagyu beef does not possess umami (sweet taste of meat) as well as literally "melts in your mouth" Wagyu fat veins, typical of Japanese products. But if you have the opportunity, try to experience many types of Japanese and American Wagyu meat from different countries to make your own comparison.
Currently, in the US, it is easy to find USDA prime cuts of American Wagyu or Angus beef in American restaurants. Although Japanese wagyu is more tender than the American version, it is still fairly soft. If you are unable to try genuine Kobe Beef or Wagyu beef, Angus or American Wagyu is an excellent alternative.
Outside the Japanese border, the largest herd of Wagyu cow is located in Australia. Just like the breeds of cattle from the US, the Australian Wagyu beef is also a hybrid and doesn't produce greasy, premium cuts like the purebred Japanese breed. If Americans often mix with the Angus beef, Australians often use Holsteins for breeding, creating a softer steak and less beefy flavor than American Wagyu.
What makes Wagyu Different from Regular Beef?
Strict rearing guidelines for Japanese Wagyu cattle in comparison to normal beef cattle
The Japanese cattle industry is extremely strict, requiring expensive labor and extreme genetic testing by the Japanese government, especially when Japanese beef exports have been increasing for the past few years. In Japan, Wagyu is produced using four main breeds: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Shorthorn, and Japanese Polled.
In Japan, Wagyu production takes more than 30 months, 6-7 times longer than this breed when raised in other countries such as Australia, the USA, and Canada. Japanese cow are fed with cereals, grass, and fresh and dried fish at a young age in Wagyu farms. Plus, 70% of Wagyu's regular feed is provided with a mix of fibre and high energy concentrate from a mixture of wheat, hay, rye grass, corn, and peanuts. Until 2 - 3 months old, Wagyu cows will be on a special diet. The temperature of the barn must always be comfortable and cool to match with the cows' body temperature, especially in the summer, it must always be maintained in the range of 18 - 27 degrees Celsius.
Cattle raised for meat must be raised and fully comply with Japan's strict standards for beef to be recognized as Wagyu beef. Wagyu cattle are fed several meals a day, mainly on fresh grass, and they are only slaughtered at 30 to 40 months, meaning a Wagyu cow will take up to 3 years to reach the best threshold for meat. This helps them live longer than other cow breeds.
The Japanese are also very meticulous when they let the cattle listen to music, get massaged, brushed with stiff brush, fed beer, ... every day to achieve the best quality of meat. In some fattening farms, farmers massage the cattle every day, especially pregnant cows and breeding cattle, sometimes with Japanese white sake to reduce stress and increase blood circulation for them. They also listen to classical music very often as this will keep the Wagyu spirit happy for most of their life, which makes their meat tastier.
One of the most unique features of authentic Wagyu is Japan's security and traceability system, in which every cattle has a birth certificate and nose print. Those documents help to ensure the purebred origin of the mother cattle, its processing plant, as well as the three generations of this cow's ancestors.
Excellent Quality Japanese Wagyu Beef
With such a rigorous and thoughtful breeding process, the superior genetics, and cattle bred for physical endurance, it is not surprising that no other beef has the perfect texture and meat ratio like Wagyu. The fat veins are perfectly interwoven in each fiber, shaped like marbled texture, very eye-catching and attractive.
The fat of Japanese standard beef is studied to possess a large proportion of saturated fat that is both delicious and very healthy. Plus, their breeding conditions even give them more intramuscular fat cells. It is thanks to this perfect texture that Wagyu beef is known as the best quality beef in the world, with a taste that is far superior to others.
Excellent Taste that sets Wagyu apart from normal beef cattle
The standard Wagyu beef must fully meet the strict requirements in terms of aesthetics, meat quality, and great taste. Wagyu beef contains rich marbling score, which stems from intramuscular fat cells. Those marbling are not greasy because they are made of unsaturated fats that are very good for health.
When enjoying authentic Wagyu , you will easily detect the rare perfect aroma, sweetness, its buttery taste, and tenderness. The perfect blend of each grain of meat and marbled fat gives consumers a feeling of soft, fatty aroma that melts right on the tip of the tongue. This is definitely a taste experience that makes you hard to resist. Therefore, when you want to cook delicious dishes with Wagyu beef, you do not need to season or marinate too much. This will lose the inherent characteristic flavor of the meat.
The Scarcity of Wagyu Cattle
Another reason why Japanese beef is so high cost that only cows that are raised according to strict rules and passed by the Japanese government's inspection are recognized as Wagyu. In other words, the number of Wagyu beef is rare, of which Kobe beef, which belongs to the Tajima-gyu breed that is grown and even slaughtered in Hyogo Prefecture, is even rarer. It is known that only about 3,000 Kobe cows are released each year, accounting for 0.6% of Japan's cow consumption. On average, only 3 Kobe cows are sold globally every day.
Not to mention, it is mainly consumed in Japan, and only a very small amount is exported outside. Plus, this is also a type of meat that is not allowed to be carried out of Japan. Thus, even Japanese who want to eat Kobe beef have to wait in line for several months.
Wagyu High Evaluation Criteria
The last and possibly the crucial reason why Wagyu is so highly prized is due to the Japanese' evaluation process of a Wagyu steak. Japan has a thorough evaluation system to check the quality of each piece of steak. The National Cattle Breeding Center of Japan will store information about the cow's origin, place of birth, fattening farm location, fattening date, and many other documents. The Japan Meat Grading Association also rates the Wagyu steak based on how much meat can be yielded, marbling fat level, color, firmness, and overall quality. And A5 will be the highest score. Most will score between A4 and A5.
Superior Health benefits with Many Nutrition Values
SUPPLEMENT BLOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ANEMIA
This premium steak contains iron - an extremely important mineral in the body. Because our bodies use iron to form blood cells, which carry oxygen to body tissues. Thereby helping the blood circulate regularly, replenishing the blood needed by the body. According to experts, each serving of wagyu beef contains about 10% of the value of iron.
PROVIDE PROTEIN FOR THE BODY
Protein is essential for the body when it comes to performing functions related to cell regeneration and formation. This steak contains about 18 grams of protein.
PROVIDES GOOD FATS FOR THE BODY
This steak contains more fat content than regular beef, so it will have a higher marbling score and more visible layers than regular beef. Their fat content is studied to have a larger proportion of monounsaturated fat than saturated fats in other types of red meat, which is both delicious and healthy. Plus, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid, is more prevalent in Wagyu beef. In particular, good fats such as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are two unsaturated fats that help fight bone and joint diseases, blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer, body weakness...
PROVIDES SODIUM TO THE BODY
The steak contains about 75 grams of sodium, which helps the body maintain fluid balance, retains body heat when you work too hard, sweats and transmits nerve impulses.
KEEPS HAIR STRONG AND SOFT
A healthy, smooth hair is everyone's desire. Fortunately, there are levels of vitamin B12, vitamin B6 in the steak. These vitamins work to increase collagen for the body, so hair grows stronger and smoother.
This type of premium steak is processed and undercooked, so the digestive system works very hard, Research has shown that thoroughly cooked beef will reduce the loss of amino acids by about 6%, the meat will become dry, hard resulting in slower digestion.
As can be seen, when comparing wagyu beef to regular steak, it clearly outperforms the latter in every way. Have you been salivating at the lips over all this talk of Wagyu beef? Visit the nearest restaurant to experience our new Wagyu beef burger selection.