If you’re in the market for the most succulent beef you can find, you’d definitely want Wagyu beef.

What Is Wagyu Beef?

Wagyu Beef is one of the top-notch beeves produced in the world. It originated in Japan, and is now becoming more common in UK, Australia, and the USA. It is internationally coveted and acclaimed for its rich marbling and buttery taste. As a consequence, the cows from which Wagyu beef is made are sold for over 30000 dollars.

Source : Business Insider

This very expensive beef features intense marbling, intricate taste, and richer flavors than any other beef available on market, that’s what explains its high associated cost.

Believe it or not, a slab of Wagyu beef can get really, really, expensive, a cost related to the rarity of the beef and the know-how required to proficiently raise this breed.

It’s all about the taste you might say, well, Yes! Obviously, though, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Wagyu Cattle Breeds

Wagyu Beef comes from 4 main Japanese cows’ breeds: Kuroge, Akage, Nihom Tankaku and Mukake. Their main distinguishing characteristics are physical endurance and their fat cells.

What makes the Wagyu pretty special is the abundance of inter-muscular fat cells. This fat is distributed more evenly throughout the muscle. Which makes up for the pink color and soft texture and creamy taste.

Kobe Wagyu beef

Breeding Process

There are many speculations about the way the cows are raised. Some common myths include feeding them beer or even giving them some eccentric massages. Most of these are unfounded. In fact, the cows are raised differently depending on the region and the farming method.

  • Wagyu cattle are encouraged to gain weight naturally and slowly and never fed growth hormones to speed up the process.
  • They are raised in closed spaces and fed high energy concentrate composed of rice-wheat and hey for more than 2 years.
  • The length of the fattening process and the cost associated with the enormous amounts of high energy concentrate drive up the cost of the beef.
  • Not only that but the breeding process is tightly regulated by the Japanese government. The higher the grade, the higher price.

It’s not just how the cow is raised that produces Wagyu steaks, but the actual breed itself. As a matter of fact, there are all sorts of breeds, and some are more prized than others when it comes to what ends up on a steakhouse menu.

For instance, Sakami, a Wagyu restaurant in New York, is known for their 85 dollars Japanese KatsuSando sandwiches. This is a Japanese delicacy consisting of a bite-sized sandwich of Wagyu meat. On an average night, they sell at least 25 of them.

A delicacy that is even more extravagant than KatsuSando sandwiches, is the Sanuki Wagyu Beef. This particular steak comes from Olive Wagyu, which has olive mixed into the cow’s diet. They are fed and fattened in very specific olive plantations in Japan. An Olive Wagyu steak price range can vary from 120 dollars to 300 dollars.

Real Wagyu at Alexander's Steak House at Cupertino
“Real Wagyu at Alexander’s Steak House at Cupertino” by Jun Seita is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Health Benefits

Wagyu beef is not only praised for its tenderness but for its health benefits, it is rich in essential fatty acids and has a higher percentage of good cholesterol.

Recent research praised Wagyu as a great source of essential vitamins and unsaturated healthy fats, including Omega 3 and 6.

Wagyu beef also contains more conjugated linoleic acid than any other beef breeds. Conjugated linoleic acid is a fatty acid with potent anti-carcinogenic properties, as well as being an anti-inflammatory agent.

“WagyuStripSteak” by Ideas in Food is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Demand

Despite the international demand, domestic popularity is slumping as the value of exports has risen. In addition, the Japanese population which is continuously aging is raising prices even more while struggling to keep up with the demand.

Nowadays, the US, Australia, and the UK are competing for local productions that rival the originals. Moreover The UK is even aiming for a Halal British Wagyu stamp.

Luckily, increased regulations and new methods seem to be going towards a better product than the original.

Verdict

What we have learned so far that Wagyu’s intense flavor, generous marbling, and health benefits among the high associated costs during the farming process, made this special beef a standard among steak eaters.

“Wagyu” by Kent Wang is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

So if you’re craving for a Wagyu steak and if you feel like spending hundreds of dollars on it, we assure you that’s totally worth it.