Wagyu beef, often renowned as the “champagne of meat,” is a delicacy that has captured the imaginations and palates of food enthusiasts worldwide.
But what really defines a Wagyu steak, and how many types of Wagyu beef are there? And what’s the difference? We’re going to explore these questions and more, so hang tight!
What is Wagyu Beef?
First things first, what is Wagyu Beef?
You may have heard the rumours about these special cows from Japan, having classical music played over them and receiving massages daily. We can guarantee that those are just old wives’ tales. 😉
That being said, Wagyu beef is truly something special!
Simply explained, Wagyu is the product of four distinct Japanese cattle breeds raised exclusively in Japan. The name “Wagyu” itself is a combination of two Japanese words: “wa,” meaning Japan, and “gyu,” meaning cow or cattle.
There are four distinct Wagyu cattle breeds: Japanese Black (Kuroge Washu), Japanese Shorthorn (Nihon Tankaku Washu) Japanese Brown (Akage Washu or Akaushi) and Japanese Polled (Mukaku Washu
The two primary breeds of Wagyu produced in South Africa are Japanese Brown and Black (According to Dr Michael Bradfield, CEO of the Wagyu Society of South Africa).
Authenticity Matters: Is it Truly Wagyu Beef?
While many restaurants worldwide claim to offer Wagyu beef, distinguishing the genuine thing can be challenging. The complexities arise from factors like crossbreeding, importing, and variations in raising practices.
True Wagyu beef must adhere to strict criteria, specific raising methods, and processing through a closely monitored supply chain.
In our South African context, this is why the Wagyu Society of South Africa exists: to provide the criteria to ensure that when you purchase Wagyu, you’re getting the real deal.
As per the WSSA’s breed definition, 100% certified Wagyu needs to meet the following criteria:
- Minimum Marbling Score of 3
- All males must be castrated prior to 5 months of age.
- Ethically produced.
- Cattle must be Fullblood or Purebred
What about Wild Coast Wagyu?
At Wild Coast Wagyu – our Wagyu genetics are ranked in the top 5% globally; we’ve also established complete traceability on our certification and our animals, ensuring you get the highest quality every time. We are certified with the Wagyu Society of South Africa, guaranteeing that we are in alignment with all the points above.
What’s The Secret Behind Wagyu’s Superiority?
The allure of Wagyu beef lies in its unique way of processing fat within the animal’s body. Unlike most cattle, Wagyu cattle distribute their fat throughout the muscle with a melting point at body temperature, which is called marbling.
For example, if you think of a typical Wagyu rib-eye steak, the fat doesn’t congregate solely on the exterior like it would for other steaks.
Instead, it weaves throughout the meat, making for a buttery, tender mouthful of flavour. Many describe the experience as the meat “melting in their mouth,” as opposed to a chewy or tough eating experience that you might have with regular beef.
In conclusion, Wagyu beef is a culinary treasure, celebrated for its unparalleled marbling, tenderness, and unique flavour profile. While many imitations exist worldwide, true Wagyu must meet specific criteria to bear its name.
The next time you embark on an adventure in pursuit of the finest beef, keep these insights in mind to ensure you enjoy a genuine Wagyu experience, a delicacy that transcends the ordinary!