Wagyu beef, a Japanese breed of cattle, produces the most highly sought-after beef in the world. Wagyu literally means ‘Japanese cow’ and is known for its incredible marbling and ‘melt in your mouth’ texture. In this guide, we’ll discuss Wagyu beef, what makes it so special, where to find it, and how to cook it.
What Makes Wagyu Beef Unique
Wagyu beef has an incredible depth of flavor that is unmatched by any other type of beef, largely due to its impressive fat marbling. Bred for agricultural labor for centuries, the natural genetic makeup of Wagyu paired with the proper raising of the cattle resulted in the marbling you see on wagyu beef cuts. It’s commonly said that Wagyu cuts like butter because of its soft, silky texture, which is created by the marbling.
The abundance of fat in Wagyu beef creates a tender, juicy flavor that is known for melting in your mouth because of the fact that the melting point in the Wagyu fat is lower than the human body temperature. The average beef cow lives to be just over a year old while Wagyu cows live to be around three years, another contributing factor to why the flavor is superior to all other types of beef.
To sum it up, these are the key aspects that make Wagyu so unique:
- Impressive fat marbling
- ‘Melt in your mouth’ texture
- Filled with healthy fats
- Live longer than average beef cattle
- Hard to come by
Wagyu Beef Prices
Wagyu beef has a flavor unlike any other in the world and because Japan no longer exports live Wagyu cows for breeding in other countries, it’s incredibly hard to come by and is therefore the most expensive type of beef on the market.
Because of how rare and unique Wagyu cows are, they’re sold for up to forty times what average U.S. beef cows are sold for. High-grade wagyu is sold for up to $200 per pound, while Olive Wagyu, the rarest type of Wagyu beef in the world, can cost up to $300 for just one steak.
Health Benefits of Wagyu Beef
Red meat isn’t typically regarded as being particularly healthy for the body, but research shows that Wagyu beef is as healthy for humans as olive oil or salmon. Let’s look at some of the most prominent benefits of Wagyu beef:
- Monounsaturated Fats. Wagyu beef contains a high content of monounsaturated fats, which are known as the healthy fats and help to lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease, and aid in weight loss
- Oleic Acid. Wagyu beef contains high amounts of oleic acid, which supports heart health.
- High Source of Fatty Acids. Wagyu beef is loaded with a high concentration of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which aid in the protection of the body in a number of ways like protecting against depression, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s
- Low in Cholesterol. Wagyu beef has less cholesterol than almost any other type of meat including fish, chicken, and turkey.
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid. Wagyu beef contains a significant amount of conjugated linoleic acid, which benefits the body in a variety of ways, including:
- Helps fight cancer
- Supports the immune system
- Aids in weight loss
- Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
Which Wagyu Cut is the Best?
Like with any cow, there are many different types of Wagyu cuts. The most popular choice is the sirloin cut, which is most commonly used to make Wagyu steak. The best cuts are the ones with the most significant marbling, which is the meat located around the loin. Here are some of the most popular cuts of Wagyu beef:
- Wagyu Sirloin. Regarded as the best cut of Wagyu beef, sirloin comes from the loin region and has a fine marbling.
- Wagyu Ribeye. Another one of the best cuts, ribeye comes from the back and rib regions and provides a balance between lean and fat beef.
- Wagyu Chuck Eye. This cut is a roast that comes from between the shoulder and back regions and is a fatty cut with a fine marbling.
- Wagyu Brisket. This cut comes from the chest area and is a fairly tough cut with layers of lean meat and fat.
- Wagyu Ribs. This cut comes from, you guessed it, the ribs and consist of lean meat with a very fine marbling.
- Wagyu Skirt Steak. This is a cut from the plate and is a deep red meat that tastes like actual red meat but actually consists of offal, or the internal organs of the cow.
How to Store and Cook Wagyu Beef
Cuts of wagyu beef should be tightly wrapped in saran wrap to prevent it from oxidizing and stored in the coldest part of your fridge for no more than three days. If you choose to freeze your wagyu beef, it can remain in the freezer for up to one year as long as it’s sealed in a vacuum-sealed or airtight bag.
Keeping your beef stored in an airtight bag is critical because air exposure causes freezer burn, which messes with the flawless integrity and flavor of the Wagyu beef. When thawing your cut, it’s best to slowly thaw it out in the fridge while still in its airtight packaging.
The extraordinary fat content of wagyu beef means that it needs to be stored and prepared differently than ordinary cuts of beef. Here are some tips on how to properly prepare wagyu beef cuts:
- Wagyu beef should not be served rare, as it’s important that heat penetrates through all the marbling in the steak to obtain maximum flavor
- On the flip side, wagyu beef should not be served well-done either or you risk cooking out all of that wonderful flavor
- Unlike other types of beef, wagyu cuts should not be brought to room temperature before cooking, but instead added to the pan straight from the fridge so that the fat renders properly
- Before cooking, trim bits of excess fat the outsides of the cut
- Always season generously with salt and pepper before cooking
- Make sure not to overwhelm the Wagyu by covering up the amazing flavor of the beef with too much seasoning, sauce, or marinade
- Use a cooking oil with a high smoking point and bring your pan to a high heat before adding your steak to the pan
- Gently press on the steak to ensure even cooking and cook for approximately two minutes on each side, until golden and caramelized
- After searing, finish the wagyu steak off in the oven for one hour at a low temperature like 140 degrees Fahrenheit to allow the meat to finish cooking thoroughly and gently
- Add-ins like butter are not necessary when cooking wagyu beef, as the beef contains incredible flavor on its own
Easy Wagyu Beef Recipes
For the most incredible depth of flavor and buttery, melt in your mouth texture you can find, wagyu is the best possible option and guarantees to impress your family and friends.
Here are some of the best wagyu beef recipes to try out at home:
- Wagyu Burgers with caramelized onions, garlic aioli, and mushrooms for mouthwatering flavor in every bite
- Wagyu Beef with Oxtail and Barley is a stunning dish loaded with complex flavors that are sure to wow your guests
- Wagyu Beef Sliders on brioche buns that are finished with jalapeño pimento cheese, making for the perfect combination of refinement and southern comfort
- Crispy Wagyu Beef Tacos topped with a spicy cilantro sauce and chili mayonnaise for a delicious meal the whole family can enjoy
- Wagyu Zabuton Steak Sandwiches that consist of a gorgeous cut of Wagyu beef topped with soy caramelized onions and horseradish sauce inside of a toasted hoagie roll
- Wagyu Beef Burritos made with a delicious cut of Wagyu skirt steak in a zesty cumin, lime, and garlic marinade that’ll leave you craving more
- Japanese Wagyu Beef Curry that is flavor-packed and extremely satisfying, making for the perfect meal for a group
- Wagyu Filet Mignon with Shallot and Red Wine Sauce for the perfect date-night meal that will leave you both licking the plate clean afterwards
- Wagyu Beef Dumplings that make for an appetizer that is both elegant and delicious
- Wagyu Sirloin Kabobs that are simple to make but pack an incredible punch of delicious flavor
- Slow Cooker BBQ Wagyu Beef Brisket that makes for the perfect dinner party recipe
- Torched Wagyu Beef Salad loaded with delicate, elegant, and delicious flavors for any time of day