What is Wagyu?
Wagyu, with its fantastic marbling and tender, succulent meat, is perhaps the highest quality of beef that one can buy on the market. Priced around $100+ per pound, there is a reason why this particular meat is so prized– the work and dedication to achieve this quality is spectacular, to say the least.
First, there are only 4 types of cows that can be qualified to be wagyu: Japanese brown, black, polled, and shorthorn, with Japanese Black being the most popular of the wagyu cows, followed by Japanese brown (aka Japanese Red). The term “wagyu” comes from two Japanese kanjis, wa (和) meaning “Japanese” and gyu (牛) meaning “cow”. From there, the meat is inspected for its luster, brilliance, texture, marbling, age, color, and firmness, as well as being scored on a scale of 1-5, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.
The reason why only certain cows are qualified to be wagyu is primarily based on its genetic makeup: there is evidence that as much as 35,000 years ago, there was a genetic split between some of the cows, with breeding between imported and native species making up new kinds of cows. As the Meiji Era gave way to the breed further becoming the modern Wagyu we know today, Japan realized the importance of the meat and has declared it a national treasure.
But the process of getting Wagyu does not just rely on the lineage of the cow, but the food, luxury, comfort, and care put into the animal. Although many people boast that Wagyu cows are fed beer and massaged everyday, it must be noted that only a few farmers tailor the cow’s diet with beer and massage. However, all of the farmers do tailor the Wagyu’s diet to natural, organic feed and luxury, slaughtering the cow after 3 years (18 months later than usual slaughtering for cows).
Up until recently, Japan banned the export of Wagyu meat outside of the country, but European countries such as Britain have been able to negotiate and breed these animals, themselves, producing high-quality Wagyu meat within their borders as well as opening up trade to export Japanese Wagyu meat.
One thing to note, too, is that Kobe beef can be Wagyu, but not all Wagyu is Kobe beef. Hard to wrap your head around? Basically, Kobe beef gets its name for the region where the cows are raised– Kobe, Japan. Wagyu cows can be raised in Kobe, Japan, and therefore be considered Kobe beef, but if they are raised in any other place, the resulting would simply be just Wagyu.
All in all, what is wagyu? Wagyu is a delicious treat that one should experience at least once in one’s lifetime, has a rich taste, and is a result of tender loving and care.
Grass-Fed Wagyu Beef by Pasture Prime Wagyu
Raising Wagyu Cattle in Japan by Prof. John W Longworth
Wagyu by Wikipedia
Wagyu Beef Is the World’s Most Expensive Cut of Meat. Here’s Why by Huffington Post
Have you ever had Wagyu? How did you like (or not like) it? Let us know in the comments below!