While there is a definite increase in vegetarianism happening right now, there is also a shift towards higher quality red meat. Rather than buying cheap mince or cheap cuts from the supermarket, more people are using butchers and are electing for steak over cheaper or fattier cuts. This can only be a good thing, but only if you know what you’re doing.
That’s why we put this steak FAQ together. If you’re new to steak, you want to know what you’re buying right? Over the next couple of weeks we will be building your knowledge of steak. We’ll start with beef types as this can have quite an influence over your buying decisions.
What is Angus beef?
You will see Angus beef a lot in butchers and supermarkets. It refers to the breed of cattle that produced the beef, in this case Black Angus. The cattle does produce a nice tasting meat but is not markedly superior to other sources. The whole Angus thing is largely a marketing campaign to promote Angus has a premium meat.
Don’t fuss too much about only using Angus for steak. It does taste nice but you would have to have very sensitive taste buds to tell the difference between it and other types.
What is Kobe beef?
Kobe beef is Japanese beef and is a variant of Wagyu which we will discuss in a moment. Kobe is officially Tajima-Gyu, reared only in the Hyogo region of Japan. Kobe is easily identifiable thanks to very distinctive marbling. This comes from the breed, the slower pace of animal growth and the diet.
While Kobe looks fatty, it isn’t much fattier than other sources. The fat is more evenly distributed and cooked correctly, will render into the meat. It’s expensive but you’re paying for that slow rearing, high welfare and amazing taste. It’s an investment rather than a cost.
What about Wagyu beef?
Wagyu beef has the same marbling as Kobe and cooks at an equally lower temperature allowing that fat to render faster. It is raised to the same standard as Kobe but isn’t restricted to just one variant like Kobe is. As long as the Wagyu is certified, it will deliver an amazing buttery flavor when cooked properly.
Also like Kobe, welfare is much, much higher than usual. Rearing takes much longer, cattle roam as free as possible and have a diet of grass and supplements. As a result, it can also be very expensive.
Other types of beef
The vast majority of supermarket steak will be of a general variety. While not as good a quality as butcher meat, it is convenient to buy and should be of a decent standard. It will usually be derived from general beef cattle and may even be Angus but not labelled as such. When buying from the supermarket, it’s the cut of beef that is more important than the type.
Which leads us on nicely to next week’s post when we will begin covering the many cuts of steak you’ll come across while shopping around for steak.