World’s super beef — Wagyu
Take a bite of wagyu steak, and its rich flavour and smooth texture will melt in your mouth, making you crave for more.
Wagyu is Japanese beef — Wa (Japanese) and Gyu (beef).
The luxury steak is popular because of its special qualities, and smooth texture.
Many do not mind paying $200 for half a kg of wagyu as it is healthy. It is worth the money as the beef has high level of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which lower the bad cholesterol and much healthier than the normal steak.
Although for those in India, it is difficult to find wagyu in any hotel or restaurant, let’s learn a little about the expensive steak.
Not on menu in hotels in India
Many five-star hotels and hi-end fine dining restaurants had been serving wagyu beef till recently, but have denied selling any variety of beef, according to a report by Business Standard.
Although it is very expensive, it’s a disappointment for all foodies that the famous beef steak is not on the menu.
A variety of wagyu — the kobe beef from the Tajima strain of Wagyu cattle from Japan, is one of the highest grade variety of beef, with a kilo costing around ₹22,000. The Tajima breed can only be raised in Japan.
The ministry of commerce lists ‘meat from bovine’ animals in the restricted category so it is not legal to import kobe or wagyu from Japan to India.
How it is bred
Four main breeds are used for wagyu production in Japan — namely Japanese Black (Kuroge Washu), Japanese Brown (Akage Washu or Akaushi), Japanese Shorthorn (Nihon Tankaku Washu) and Japanese Polled (Mukaku Washu).
Researchers have found out that the genetic makeup of wagyu breed of cows diverged from other cows many years ago. This particular new strain was bred to have the most intra-muscular fat cells, providing energy source. The individual strain was infused with other cow breeds all around the world.
Modern wagyu is usually a cross between the native breeds with imported breeds such as Brown Swiss, Devon, Shorthorn, Simmental, Ayrshire and Korean.
As it gained popularity outside Japan, there has been an increase in the value of exports from Japan up to 200%. Over 90% of all wagyu are Japanese black strains. So wagyu is usually referred to Japanese black cattle.
Different grades of wagyu
The meat grading association in Japan grades each piece of meat as a score based on its level of marbling, yield (A-C) firmness, colour and overall quality (1-5). A5 is the highest ranking wagyu beef.
There are a few countries which have their own wagyu production. With no rules and regulations with reference to the usage of the term ‘wagyu’ in these countries, it is difficult to tell which grade or quality of wagyu you are eating.
The authentic one from Japan has the wagyu mark and is 100% pure wagyu beef. The US, Australia, Britain raised wagyu are 50% pure because their wagyu is crossed with other local breeds.
Why Wagyu is so expensive
Half a kg of wagyu can cost up to $200 which is around ₹15,000 and in some countries they sell the whole beef cattle in auctions which can also go up to $30,000.
Wagyu is expensive because of the manner the cows are raised and slaughtered. The cattle are given utmost care and are fed with high-quality organic products. There’s not a single chemical involved in their rearing. Wagyu cows are reared for three years while regular cows are slaughtered when they are around 15 months.
Researchers say higher the DNA rating, higher the price.
Around 183 cattle were exported to the USA between 1976 and 1977 before Japan stopped their export. American ranchers are raising wagyu breeds domestically. Although there is more breeding in the country, but it is still in a small-scale operation and thus an exclusive.
Wagyu is different from normal steak
The basic difference between a wagyu beef and a normal beef steak is the fat content. Every beef steak gets its texture and flavor from its fat content. Indian and Western beefs have a thick line of lard running throughout the meat. Wagyu beef has more fat than meat. Its fat lines are called “marbles” which make the steak softer and smoother — the meat will melt in your mouth. Wagyu meat is pinkish and the fat running through them is spectacular to look at.
Japan allows Kobe beef exports only to Hong Kong and Macau, to preserve its authenticity.
The right way to eat
Wagyu is full of fat so it is important to cook it with less or no oil. Since the meat cooks fast, one needs to take care and not overcook it. The perfect wagyu steak should be served straight from the pan on to a pre-warmed plate so that the fat doesn’t cool down.
How to cook wagyu beef
Portions – Wagyu should be sliced into small strips (bite size portions) and should be cooked one at a time. It is recommended to cut wagyu into thin slices approximately 1 inches by 4 inches strips.
Japanese wagyu should be thinner.
Seasoning – Wagyu has its own flavor so don’t overpower it with spices. Sea salt and black pepper are the best combination. But you can also add your own favorite spices to give it an additional flavor.
Cooking equipment – Specialized restaurants have their own binchotan or a hibachi which is also called as Japanese barbeque — a charcoal fire and a wire mesh to cook the meat. But to bring out the flavor, cook the meat on a cast iron skillet.
Wagyu beef should not be overcooked. Chefs recommend to medium cook. Two minutes per side is enough to get that juicy fat out of the meat.
Pairings – A light bodied crispy salad or any salad greens will go well with wagyu beef.
Other option is assorted sautéed root vegetables.
You can enjoy it with beer, wine and champagne.
Here’s a recipe of one of my favorite beef dishes
Thin Strips of beef – 800 gm
Cooking oil – 1½ tbsp
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Salt And Pepper
Smoked Paprika – 1 tsp
Chopped Garlic Cloves – 3 nos
Sliced Large Onion. – 1 nos
Sliced Red Bell pepper – ½ nos
Sliced Yellow bell pepper – ½ nos
Sliced Green Capsicum – ½ nos
For Salsa –
Chopped Onions – 1 nos
Green Chilies – 5 nos
Chopped Tomatoes – 2½ nos
Canned Tomatoes – 1 nos with the pulp
Chopped Garlic – 2 cloves
Honey – 1 tbsp
Salt and Pepper
Chopped Coriander Leafs – around 2 tbsp
Lemon Juice – 1tbsp
Taco shells – 10 to 15 as per servings
Lettuce leafs shredded – 1 cup
Shredded Cheese – 2 cups
Pan on Heat. Add cooking oil, Add the beef strips let it render down a little until the fat comes out then add the garlic, cook a little more, add onions and the bell peppers till soft then add the spices and cook the beef till done. Keep aside and cool.
To Make the salsa- Take the tomatoes chop them in dices, same with onions and the chilli peppers. Take the canned tomatoes and then puree it down. In a bowl mix everything and check the seasoning . Keep aside.
Now the tacos – Take the Taco shell and microwave it till crisp. If you don’t have Taco Shells then you can replace it with refined flour tortillas (chapattis) and crisp them in the oven.
Now for the assembly Take the taco filling put it inside the taco shells add a little salsa over it then add cheese show it to oven until cheese melts then take it out and then add shredded lettuce over it with a little more salsa on top. You can also top it up with garlic aioli or normal mayonnaise. Serve warm.