Wagyu beef is one of the most expensive types of beef in the world, and it comes from Japanese cows who are fed a strict and wholesome diet. This makes the meat extra fatty, and recognizably marbled.
In this guide, we will be telling you about Wagyu beef. We will tell you about why Wagyu is so expensive, where it comes from, and how it tastes (see also ‘Can You Eat Wagyu Raw?‘).
What Is Wagyu Beef?
Wagyu beef is a type of beef that is obtained from Japanese cows. Wagyu is not a cut of beef, like a sirloin or rump, but it is a type of cow.
Wagyu simply means ‘Japanese cow’, and it is the meat from these cows that is so delicious and expensive. The meat is recognizable for its trademark marbling, making the beef tender and buttery.
Where Does Wagyu Come From?
Wagyu comes from specially bred cows from or in Japan. Wagyu means Japanese cow, and this entails four main breeds that produce wagyu beef.
These cows are called Kuroge, Nihon Tankakon, Akage, and Mukaku cows. These cows have been bred throughout the years for physical endurance and superiority.
Wagyu beef is taken from cows that have extensive qualities that make them prized animals. Their meat has a lot of intramuscular fat cells, and the fat in their bodies is evenly distributed in their muscle.
In normal cows, the fat is usually distributed in certain areas, with muscly areas being tough and lean. Wagyu cows were bred for this superior taste and quality, and they have a lot of qualities that make them some of the most prized animals in the world.
Why Is Wagyu Expensive?
Wagyu is expensive, partly because of the cost of the feed, as well as the upkeep of farming the cows. Cows are fed a mix of fiber and energy concentrate made from wheat, rice, hay, and grains.
This is fed to the cow until the cow is 50% fat. This feed is super expensive to continue giving the cows, so you are partly paying for how the cows are fed and treated.
Another reason that wagyu beef is expensive (see also, ‘Why is Kobe Beef so Expensive?‘) is because of the way the cows are treated, and slaughtered.
Wagyu beef is supposed to be of the highest quality, so the cows are fed by hand, and they are raised in an open and enjoyable environment in an open pasture.
This means that their meat is actually of a higher quality, because they are happier animals.
Additionally, the production of wagyu beef is closely regulated and checked upon by the Japanese government, making sure that everything is ethical and of the best quality.
The wagyu cows are also given regular massages, and they are raised in a truly luxurious fashion. Wagyu cows are killed in an ethical and controlled way, with a quick and painless death.
Wagyu cows are so expensive due to the great care and happiness they receive, making their meat better quality.
What Is The Grading System For Wagyu Beef?
Wagyu beef is graded on how much meat can be gained from the individual cow, as well as how well-marbled the meat is. There are two grading systems, one being the beef marbling standard, and the other being the quality.
The beef marbling standard is a scale of 1-12, and it includes the amount of marbling, and the quality of the fat. A top rating of twelve means that the marbling is the best that it can be.
The beef marbling scale coincides with the general rating of wagyu beef. You may have heard of A5 wagyu beef, or A4. These ratings mean that the wagyu is absolute top quality. In the US, there are usually four grades of regular beef, from select choice to prime.
With wagyu beef, the grades start from higher than prime quality, meaning that their A5 wagyu is the best wagyu that you can get. Confusing, right? Essentially, for wagyu to be rated A5, the beef marbling standard must be at least an eight out of twelve.
How Much Is Wagyu Beef?
Wagyu beef is priced pretty high. The best wagyu can actually cost $200 per pound. The average adult wagyu cow will sell for as much as $25,000-$30,000. Genuine wagyu from Japan may cost around $100 for one hundred grams.
The price of wagyu beef completely depends on the quality of the marbling and the quality of the meat.
What Does Wagyu Taste Like?
Wagyu beef has a taste that cannot be described unless you have tried it. You only have to look at the beautiful white marbling of the meat to see how rich it is. The meat itself is soft but robust, because its own fat has been rendered into the meat.
The taste of wagyu is described as buttery, with a slight sweetness. It is rich, with a small taste of umami flavors. It tastes this good because of the fat content. Essentially it is like filling a steak with a lot of butter!
Are There Different Types Of Wagyu?
Wagyu beef comes from four different types of cows that are specially bred for wagyu beef. These cows are called Kuroge, Nihon Tankakon, Akage, and Mukaku cows, and these are their Japanese names.
Their English names are the Japanese black, the Japanese brown, the Japanese polled, and the Japanese shorthorn.
Where Can I Get Wagyu Beef?
You can buy wagyu beef from specific butchers across the country, but it is better to get wagyu beef online. It was common to only find wagyu in the best restaurants, but nowadays, it is rather attainable.
Nowadays, importers have managed to work with Japanese ranchers to import authentic wagyu beef, but a lot of American farmers have begun raising their own hybrid wagyu cows.
It is easy to find good-quality wagyu beef online. Some of these retailers include the Holy Grail Steak Co., Crowd Cow, and Mishima Reserve.
What Is Kobe Beef?
Kobe beef is a type of wagyu (remember, wagyu simply means Japanese cow), and it comes from the Japanese black cow. Kobe beef is top-notch, and it must have strict standards to be graded as Kobe beef.
To be Kobe beef, the cow must come from the Tajima cattle breed.
The Tajima cattle breed is a Japanese black cow that is specifically raised in the Hyogo area of Japan. Any other cow in any other area, cannot qualify as Kobe beef.
These Tajima cows must be raised in this area of Japan, with a score of more than A4 on the grading scale. The weight of all the meat produced from each cow must be 1,035lb or less, and the beef must have the best texture, marbling, and firmness.
Is It Still Wagyu Beef If It Is Not From Japan?
Outside of Japan, there are no genuine polled or shorthorn wagyu cows, so this meat is unobtainable. Wagyu beef can be bred in the US, as American farmers have found ways to breed these cows, gaining the same marbling.
However, it is hard to be sure that wagyu beef from other countries is actually wagyu beef.
Wagyu beef is one of the most phenomenal meats, and people have been raving about it. It is a buttery and rich type of beef, and it is only produced from the finest and ethically raised cows in Japan.
Wagyu beef is rated on a scale of its marbling, and its general quality. Wagyu beef is super expensive, and it is mostly found in high-end restaurants, and special wagyu retailers who have it imported from Japan.
We hope we’ve answered all of your wagyu questions, and we hope you’ve learned something new!