Everything you need to know about Wagyu beef

You may have noticed an 8oz Wagyu beef fillet on the Stone Grill menu and wondered what it was. You may have heard about Wagyu on the news, read it in a lifestyle magazine or somewhere else. Why are people talking about a type of beef? What is all the fuss about and why is it so expensive?

In an effort to answer all those questions, we asked a friendly butcher who specialises in quality meat for their answer.

Wagyu beef is a Japanese beef that is regarded as up there with caviar and Chateau Petrus in the food world. Believe it or not, the fuss isn’t about the meat at all but the fat. Wagyu beef has a unique marbling throughout the meat that renders at a much lower temperature than western beef. That gives the meat much more flavour.

Wagyu beef production

Wagyu means literally “Japanese cattle” and is regarded as the emperor of beef. Kobi is a type of Wagyu, named after the area in which it is farmed.

The Japanese are fanatical about quality control and manufacturing. It’s why their products are so highly rated throughout the world. Production of Wagyu beef is no different. Like its compatriot, Kobi, quality is maintained so high and so rigorously that Wagyu has become some of the highest rated beef in the world.

Japanese Wagyu cattle are purebred, meaning both parents are Wagyu. Many American, British and Australian ‘Wagyu’ are not. The naming convention is based on the sire, so as long as the bull is Wagyu, the female can be anything. In American it is an Angus, in the UK it is usually a common Friesian.

The cattle are fed grain and beer in summer to increase their appetite. They don’t do much exercise and that rumour you may have heard about them receiving regular massage is true. It helps prevent leg cramps apparently.

To help make informed decisions about their beef, the Japanese have a grading system. It is apparently the strictest system in the world and provides confidence in the quality of the meat. The grade consists of a letter, A, B or C which denotes the yield grade. Then a number, 1 to 5 that denotes the colour, marbling and texture of the meat. The top grade Wagyu beef possible is A5.

The meat

Wagyu beef is incredibly marbled and very soft to the touch. It has to be cooked very carefully as the fat renders at low temperature which gives it the signature flavour. When cooked correctly, the fat is almost liquid and the meat really does melt in the mouth.

The Stone Grill offers Wagyu beef to discerning guests but we don’t suggest having it as a steak on a stone. You just don’t get the best out of it that way. Instead, let our chef prepare it as it should be and serve it to you ready to eat. It really is the best way to enjoy such a delicious delicacy!

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