By now, you’ve probably seen Wagyu beef on menus, at the meat section of your grocery store, and on countless foodie blogs. Maybe you even tried it at your friend’s cookout.
“Wagyu” refers to a Japanese breed of beef cattle. The name refers to every beef cattle in Japan – “wa” meaning Japanese and “gyu” meaning cow. In the United States, people usually mean “American Wagyu beef.”
American Wagyu comes from select breeds of Japanese cattle raised in the United States. Regardless of origin, people love Wagyu beef. It is a gourmet meal that makes mouths water. Moreover, it is highly sought after in both grocery stores and restaurants.
But, why is it so popular? What makes it so delicious?
The Origins of Wagyu
In Japan, tourists and natives alike seek out Wagyu beef for its succulent, uniquely marbled, luxurious flavoring. Typically, they serve thin slices in small portions. Let’s take a look at the origin of these legendary beasts.
Originally, Wagyu were beasts of burden, draft animals for agriculture. Their physical endurance made them perfect for the role because they had more intra-muscular fat cells. What we call marbling in meat is a source of energy for the animal.
Typically, Wagyu have horns and are either red or black. Wagyu also includes a few distinct breeds:
- Japanese Black
- Japanese Brown
American Wagyu Beef
In the United States, Japanese Brown and Black cattle are crossbred with local cattle to produce American Wagyu. The genetics from the Japanese cattle provides flavorful beef that is highly marbled and quite tender.
Wagyu vs Kobe
Kobe beef also became quite popular in the past, but do you know the difference?
Kobe is a distinct variety of Wagyu beef, easily the most known across the world. The Kobe Beef Association states that Kobe beef is from a specific breed of Japanese black cattle – Tajima-Gyu. These cattle are raised in the Hyogo prefecture, and the capital city is Kobe.
Much like champagne, you can only call it Kobe if it’s from the right area.
Unique Taste & Marbling of Wagyu Beef
Wagyu beef has a unique taste, tenderness, and marbling that makes for an equally unique eating experience. That’s why Wagyu beef is now found in kitchens across the country.
Marbling is the white flecks of fat inside the muscle of beef. Moreover, it is what brings flavor to the meat. It is a signifier of quality that the USDA uses to rate beef.
Japanese and American Wagyu beef both of a high degree of marbling. The main cuts boast white streaks throughout. This pattern of marbling creates a buttery flavor, makes the beef more tender, and gives the beef a juicy texture. Often, American Wagyu has a higher rating than the top USDA-grade meat.
A Higher Standard of Care
Part of producing the flavor of American Wagyu beef is how a ranch raises its cattle. Higher standards of care are essential to produce the flavors that make this meat so popular.
There’s a popular myth about Japanese farmers massaging their cattle and giving them beer and sake. While it doesn’t go that far, better treatment results in better quality beef.
Ready to Try Wagyu Beef?
Lazy A Ranch raises Akaushi cattle, which is a type of Wagyu. Because we maintain a higher standard of care for our cattle, we can provide our customers with delectable flavors. If you want to experience these flavors for yourself, we are happy to supply!
We offer a wide range of cuts as well as quarters and halves. Cooking Wagyu beef is akin to other cuts of beef. That means you can craft elevated experiences for your friends and family without changing your recipe.
Want to learn how we cook Wagyu beef? Check out our recipes!