You recently purchased the priciest steak in the world, and you’re now wondering how to prepare Japanese Wagyu beef. You aren’t alone. Without at least once experiencing this flawless piece of beef, steak lovers don’t feel complete. But when it’s in your hands, learning how to cook Wagyu correctly can be overwhelming so that you don’t waste your money on a dried-out steak.
You’ve come to the right place if you recently purchased some American Wagyu steaks from Chicago Steak Company and are wondering how in the world to cook them without making tough steak leftovers.
- Be of pure Tajima-gyu lineage,
- Have been born and raised in Hyogo Prefecture,
- Be a steer (castrated bull) or virgin cow,
- Be fed with only grains and grasses that come from within the Prefecture,
- Be processed in approved slaughterhouses within the Prefecture,
So, what is Kobe beef exactly?
When spelled incorrectly, the term “Colby beef” refers to the Tajima-gyu breed of cattle that can be found in Japan’s Hygo Prefecture, whose capital city is Kobe.
When Tajima-gyu were first used as laborers in the rice farming industry in the second century, they were separated from other breeds in the sparsely populated areas of arable land in Japan’s mountainous terrain.
It is believed that herd isolation and distinctive feeding strategies produced distinctive differences in flavor and texture.
The meat of Kobe beef has a marbled appearance due to its superior flavor, tenderness, and intramuscular fat content. Because of its high content of omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, it is frequently mentioned as being healthier than commercial beef.
Its high value must also be attributed to the enigmatic farming practices purported to enhance the meat’s mouthwatering flavor and texture.
There are three main tales that recur frequently and have become something of an urban legend.
- The first is that beer is given to the cows to increase their appetite.
- The second is that they receive daily massages, occasionally with sake (Japanese rice wine), as a substitute for exercise in the cramped living conditions and to emphasize the marbling that Kobe beef is so famous for.
- The third is that they listen to classical music as a relaxation technique and during mealtimes, which makes them associate the music with eating and increases their appetite.
While there is no concrete proof that any of these methods enhance flavor or texture, they do give the impression that the cows are living a regal life, adding to the decadence of a Kobe beef meal.
What, then, is wagyu beef and how does it differ from Kobe beef?
Wagyu simply means Japanese cow or cattle. Contrary to popular belief, wagyu is not a breed of cattle in and of itself, nor does the term have anything to do with quality. It is a holistic term that is used to describe any meat from Japanese cattle. Therefore, when we refer to “wagyu meat” or “wagyu steak,” we are simply referring to Japanese cows.
Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Poll, and Japanese Shorthorn are the four breeds of wagyu cattle.
Kobe beef is only produced by Tajima-gyu cows, a subset of the Japanese Black breed.
Only Tajima-gyu cow meat that satisfies strict lineage and quality standards can be referred to as “Kobe beef.”
As a result, all wagyu beef is also Kobe beef, while Kobe beef only makes up a very small portion of wagyu beef.
Actually, only 3,000 heads of Tajima-gyu cattle per year are certified as Kobe beef. Kobe beef contributes to just 0. 06% of beef consumption in Japan, and only a very small fraction of that is exported
You can already start to appreciate how uncommon real Kobe beef is.
Preparing the hot plate. Photo used with permission courtesy of @somewhere. in. jp.
Wagyu beef grades and Kobe beef grades
Kobe beef is graded using the wagyu grade system because it is a variety of wagyu beef. This system, which rates the quality of Japanese beef using a combination of letters and numbers,
Wagyu is graded using a letter system (A–C) for yield and a number system (1–5) for quality.
Cutability, or the amount of meat that can be obtained from a particular area of the cow’s carcass, is determined by yield grade.
Grade A is above average, Grade B is average, and Grade C is below average.
Wagyu beef quality is assessed based on four different factors: the marbling, which are tiny flecks or strips of fat, the beef’s color and brightness, firmness and texture, and the color, luster, and quality of the fat.
For each of the categories, a number grade from 1 to 5 is given to the beef.
1: Poor 5: Poor 4: Good 3: Average 2: Below Average
The Beef Marble Score (BMS) is used for additional grading within the marbling category. The BMS provides a number grade of 1–12 and enables the distinctive marbling of the beef to be graded to an even finer degree of accuracy.
This demonstrates how crucial marbling, or “sashi” as it is known in Japanese, is to the flavor of wagyu and the overall melt-in-your-mouth sensation of premium Japanese beef.
Grade BMS No. 4: Good 5 – 7 3: Average 3 – 4 2: Below average 2 1: Poor 1 5: Excellent 8 – 12 3: Average 3 – 4
The highest possible score is A5, and within that, A5-12, with the latter being incredibly uncommon.
According to food journalist and author Larry Olmstead of “Real Food, Fake Food,” “USDA Prime, our highest marbling grade, equates to about 4 (on the BMS scale)” While domestic Wagyu or hybrids typically score 6 to 9, Kobe typically scores 10 or higher. ”.
No fewer than three independent, highly-trained assessors perform quality scores, and the results are combined to determine the final score.
To qualify for that status, Japanese beef must grade at the same level across all quality criteria. For instance, a beef product that receives an A for yield, a 5 on three of the four quality measurements, and a 4 on the fourth can only receive an A4.
Wagyu beef must receive a yield and quality score of A4 or A5 to be considered Kobe beef. But thats not all.
Cooking Kobe beef. Photo used with permission courtesy of @somewhere.in.jp
What are the requirements for real Kobe beef?
There are several boxes that must be checked for beef to be considered authentic Kobe beef.
Keep in mind that Tajima-gyu cows of the Japanese Black breed are required for the production of Kobe beef. Additionally, it must have been born and raised in Japan’s Hygo Prefecture, be of pure-breed Tajima-gyu lineage, and be a steer (castrated bull) or virgin cow.
When alive, it must have been fed only local grains and grasses, and when it dies, it must be processed in Hygo slaughterhouses that have received approval. Its gross carcass weight must also be 470 kg or less.
Kobe beef must achieve the highest grades of A4 or A5 (remember the yield and quality scores for wagyu we discussed above) Furthermore, the Beef Marbling Score (BMS) of the beef must be 6 or higher.
Grade BMS No. 5: Excellent 8 – 12 4: Good 5 – 7.
As a result, A4 wagyu with a BMS of 5 does not satisfy the requirements to be referred to as Kobe beef.
Kobe beef must be given a 10-digit ID number so that the specific cow from which it was sourced can be identified as the source of the meat’s authenticity.
A wagyu cut can only be referred to as Kobe beef or Kobe steak if all of these conditions are met. If you’ve ever wondered why Kobe beef is so pricey, this is the answer.
On the hot plate, a Kobe beef steak is being cut precisely. Photo used with permission courtesy of @somewhere. in. jp.
Kobe beef price and wagyu beef price
Kobe beef is rare and expensive, even in Japan.
Kobe beef costs about $300 per pound (450 grams) in Japan, but the best cuts of meat can cost up to $500 at more upscale restaurants.
Most Japanese have never tried it because of its rarity and high price, and those who have usually save it for a very special occasion.
In the US, an ounce (less than 30 grams) will cost you $50. While wagyu can be half that.
Buyer beware – the big Kobe beef and wagyu scam
It’s not surprising that restaurants all over the world have tried to capitalize on the Kobe beef name given its reputation for excellence and the eagerness of consumers to part with their money for a taste.
While there are strict laws governing the use of the term “Kobe beef” in Japan, these standards are largely unrecognized outside of Japan. As a result, restaurant owners there are not subject to the same strict regulations, which gives them more freedom to be inventive with their menu descriptions.
You’ve probably seen dishes like American Kobe beef, Kobe burgers, and Kobe beef sliders on menus.
In reality, the majority of beef sold outside of Japan as Kobe beef is not actually Kobe beef.
American Kobe beef is an oxymoron.
Any beef produced in the United States, whether from Tajima-gyu cattle or not, cannot be considered Kobe because it cannot come from Tajima-gyu cattle that were born, raised, and slaughtered in Hyogo Prefecture and were only fed grains and grasses from the Prefecture. Plain and simple.
Many restaurants seem to be using the terms “American style Kobe beef” or “American Kobe style beef” as a clever semantic variation to capitalize on the reputation of Kobe beef while averting any potential consumer-related backlash.
That said, there have already been several class action suits filed against restaurants in America who were allegedly selling fraudulent Kobe beef, and affected consumers are demanding their money back.
Attorney Kevin Shenkman, who acted as class counsel in lawsuits brought against several of these eateries and dining organizations, explains:
These companies misrepresent their beef as being Kobe beef when it is anything but, and they charge consumers premium prices because they believe that the beef they are selling is Kobe beef even though it isn’t ”.
However, despite increased media coverage, it doesn’t appear to have had much of an impact on consumer spending or awareness in the US, where menu items like Kobe sliders have already made a name for themselves in the new era of foodie-ism.
In America, the terms “Kobe” and “wagyu” are used so frequently on menus that customers have practically come to expect these “premium options” from just about any neighborhood bistro, despite obvious limitations.
Kobe beef restaurant in Kobe, Japan. Photo used with permission courtesy of @somewhere. in. jp.
Wagyu beef and Kobe beef in the US
Due to worries over foot and mouth disease thought to have originated from livestock in Japan, the import of any Japanese wagyu beef from Japan, Kobe or otherwise, to the United States was prohibited from 2010 to August 2012.
Even before that, the USDA had not approved the export of Hygo Prefecture slaughterhouses, where only genuine Kobe beef could be obtained, so that only fresh, boneless Japanese beef could be imported.
Therefore, before August 2012, any restaurant that claimed to serve Kobe beef in any form in the United States was using some creative menu writing.
Even though the USDA’s import ban on Japanese beef was lifted on August 27, 2012, only very small amounts of Kobe beef are given to chosen customers. Most Kobe beef remains in Japan for domestic consumption.
Even the term “wagyu” is used very loosely in America. Although there are Japanese cattle in the US that are purebred, meat only needs to be 46 9% Japanese to be labelled wagyu.
Angus cattle and wagyu are frequently crossed in the United States, so the resulting beef may be more Angus than wagyu. Even so, restaurants are excluded from this definition of wagyu, which only applies to farmers and butchers.
Restaurants can essentially label any beef as wagyu or Kobe beef, and many do.
Where to get real Kobe beef
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to safeguard your interests as a customer and prevent being tricked into paying for something that is not authentic.
Check the price tag and skip the Kobe beef burgers
According to Kobe beef fraud researcher and journalist Larry Olmstead, “high prices don’t guarantee that you are getting Kobe beef, but low prices virtually guarantee that you aren’t.” ”.
Price is a good first indicator. Even though we all would like to believe that we can purchase a premium Kobe steak or burger at the neighborhood gastropub for an additional $10, unless you’re paying a couple hundred dollars for it, it’s not Kobe beef.
Furthermore, no one in their right mind would initially grind up premium wagyu, much less prized Kobe beef, into a hamburger patty. There is essentially no such thing as ground Kobe beef.
The late great Anthony Bourdain described Kobe sliders as the worst dish in America. “What makes Kobe good is texture. You lose all of that immediately (in a Kobe slider).
“You could never appreciate what makes Kobe interesting, good, and expensive in a tiny burger or a meatball drenched in sauce,” I mean it’s silly. ”.
However, even if the dish seems to be prepared logically and the price seems reasonable, this does not ensure that you will receive what you ordered. For that we need to dig a little deeper.
Any restaurant serving genuine Kobe beef ought to be able to supply you with the 10-digit authentication number, information about where the meat was distributed from, its exact grade, and where it came from.
Kobe beef is not easy to procure. If they are unsure or hesitate, this is a surefire indication that the beef is not genuine Kobe.
Check if the restaurant, retailer or wholesaler has actually imported Kobe beef with this easy online search trick
They don’t just send Kobe beef anywhere without knowing exactly who it is going to and where it will end up because it is highly prized and regulated in Japan. Fortunately for consumers, this information is available freely online.
Only 40 restaurants in the United States currently have access to real Kobe beef.
You can also search by the 10-digit authentication number to check that it is a legitimate number.
In addition, you can check when the beef was exported and the company it was imported by here.
Something is wrong if the information you receive from a business cannot be verified here.
The most expensive beef in the world
You might believe Kobe beef is the most expensive beef in the world based on its cost and reputation. However, it isn’t even the most expensive or coveted wagyu.
That honor goes to Matsusaka beef, which is widely regarded as the best Japanese beef domestically in Japan due to its higher than average fat content, a crucial sign of high-quality wagyu. Matsusaka beef must have a BMS of 10–12 while Kobe beef must have a BMS of 6.
However, it is said that the most expensive beef in the world comes from a farm in Northeastern France where a butcher who owns and operates his own abattoir makes aged steaks from his Blonde Aquitaine stock by hibernating them. The beef can be preserved using this method for an arbitrary amount of time without losing quality. Cold air is blown onto the meat at 75 km per hour while the surrounding temperature is -45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Around $3,200 will buy you a 2000 vintage cote de boeuf (rib steak).
Although the information may seem complex at first, it is actually quite straightforward. Do your research and avoid cheap (and expensive) imitations.
To get the guaranteed real deal, go directly to the source and choose a certified Kobe beef restaurant, retailer, or wholesaler from the list in your country. You can also save your money and take a trip to Japan.
While I hate to put a damper on a good story, it basically has to be attributed to myth regarding the beer, massages, and music.
It is certainly conceivable that some farmers have employed such methods (and perhaps that is where such legends originated), but it is unquestionably not a practice followed by all farmers.
According to Kobe cattle farmer Yoshinori Nakanishi, who has been in the industry for close to 40 years, “Neither I nor any other beef farmer I know would ever dream of giving cows beer.” ”.
I suppose they’ll just have to let the taste do the talking. Fortunately for them, most people are persuaded after just one bite of the renowned “melt-in-your-mouth” food.
Just a quick sear, shall we? Kobe beef is unlike any steak we have ever tasted. Have you tried it? Would you like to? Let us know in the comments. Managed to get myself invited into another Japanese kitchen!.
Cooking real A5 KOBE BEEF Wagyu from Japan, It’s Insane!
How is Kobe beef made?
Wagyu is a brand of beef, and the standards that this brand upholds are incredibly exact and stringent. The steer must be of the Tajima cattle breed, which is a Japanese Black raised in the Hyogo prefecture of Japan, in order to be considered Kobe Beef. All aspects of raising cattle must take place in the prefecture of Hyogo.
What is the best way to cook a Kobe steak?
In order to qualify as Kobe beef, a cow must be born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in Hyogo Prefecture specifically, and she must be a bullock or an uncalved cow between the ages of 28 and 60 months. Additionally, the carcass must receive a Beef Marbling Score (BMS) of 6 or higher, a Meat Quality Score of A or B, and a Yield Score of 4 or 5.