Wagyu Beef is a wonderful produce. Most commonly known for its marbled characteristics, giving the beef its marvellous ‘melt in the mouth’ moisture and tenderness, Wagyu is one of the world’s most coveted produce, whose interesting origins usually go unreported, and which is often overlooked by the average cook because a. its reputation as expensive and b. it can be exceptionally hard to source.
Cue FOUR magazine. Below, we’ve compiled 10 interesting facts for you to tell the guests at your next dinner party where, no doubt,Wagyu beef will most certainly be making an appearance on the menu. This we know because we’ve also listed a few helpful places to source Wagyu beef – or the next best thing to it – in Australia, the UK and the US.
1. Wagyu beef has its ancient origins firmly rooted in A.D. Japan when the legendary breed of cattle was brought from its home on the Asian mainland. The breed was refined in the Kobe region of Japan over hundreds of generations and has become famous around the world for its intense flavour and supreme tenderness.
2. Wagyu beef is most commonly known for its marbling characteristics and impeccable quality, along with its often extortionatelyhigh price. One of the most expensive cuts of this beguiling beef is said to have been served at a private party at New York City’s Craftsteak, costing a whopping $2,800.
3. Although it’s thought otherwise, Wagyu beef is exceptionally healthy. The cattle's genetic predisposition yields a beef that contains a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than typical beef. The increased marbling also increases the ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats.
4. Wagyu’s marbling characteristics, which gives the beef its 'melt in the mouth' moisture and tenderness, is said to be obtained through the various breeding and feeding techniques, cultivated by farmers in ancient Japan, such as massaging the cattle and adding beer or sake to their feeding regime.
5. There are four breeds of Japanese Wagyu: Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled, Japanese Shorthorn and Japanese Black which makes up 90% of all fattened cattle in Japan. The less readily available variety of Japanese Wagyu beef is Shorthorn, making up less than one percent of all cattle in Japan.
6. Next to Japan, The Australian Wagyu Association is the largest breed association, farming both fullblood and wagyu-cross cattle for domestic and overseas markets. In the UK, most of the Wagyu beef is produced in Wales, where Welsh Wagyu cattle are reared on clover rich pastures before finishing on grass and blended grain ration.
7. The US is also well known for producing some of the best Wagyu beef outside of Japan, where Japanese Wagyu cattle are bred withAngus cattle. This crossbreed is most commonly referred to as American Style Kobe Beef.
8. Mimicking the diet that Japanese cattle receive, Wagyu cattle in the US are fed a mixture of corn, alfalfa, barley and wheatstraw.
9. A large portion of the farming of American Style Kobe Beef in the US is concentrated in ranches around Colorado and Montana. One notable American Kobe Beef producer is Snake River Farms, a family owned and operated producer located in Eastern Idaho. In order to raise 100% natural beef, Snake River Farms has adopted many aspects of the heritage-steeped Japanese feeding method, including a slow-paced and sustainable diet that includes Idaho potatoes, soft white wheat, corn and alfalfa hay.
10. Wagyu beef is a firm favourite among the world’s most influential chefs. Jay Theiler of Snake River Farms’ Gold Grade beef, said: “Our exclusive Gold Grade beef is the choice of several Michelin starred restaurants and our inventory is usually pre-ordered by our chef partners.” In the UK, Tom Aitkens and Sat Baines, both Michelin-starred chefs, have been noted for their admiration of the exquisite beef.
Where to get your Wagyu fix
C. Lidgates - www.lidgates.com/wagyu-beef
The Australian Wagyu Association has an extensive list of Wagyu suppliers on its website wagyu.org.au
In light of Labor day taking place in the US on 2 September 2013, Snake River Farms are making their Gold Grade beef variety of American Style Kobe Beef available for consumers to buy online. The exclusive offer will take place throughout the month of September, or while supplies last. For more information visit snakeriverfarms.com/american-style-wagyu-kobe-beef
About Snake River Farms
Family owned and operated, Snake River Farms works with farmers and ranchers with a similar philosophy for producing the highest quality. Snake River Farms crosses its premier Japanese Wagyu cattle with Black Angus cattle to create American Wagyu Beef. Often called American Kobe Beef, the proprietary herd has developed into one of the most highly regarded groups of Wagyu/Angus crossed cattle in the world. Snake River Farms believes in sustaining family owned farms and ranches by rewarding the efforts of producers that embrace the exacting standards required to raise the finest livestock. The premium quality of Snake River Farms is a result of the dedication, hard work and coordinated efforts of the finest producers in the nation.