Wagyu Beef: The Secret Star of Japanese Cuisine

The hero of the story is Kobe

Wagyu Beef: The Secret Star of Japanese Cuisine

Close your eyes for a moment and focus on the tune of “Four Seasons” and the happiness of “Spring!” Lots of people fully attend to your needs; you don’t even have to walk an inch or raise your hand to attract the attention of workers. While you are relaxing and indulging in a massage from the skillful hands of a Geisha, you take a sip from a bottle of beer. And, please wake up from the dream now! Because that person is not unfortunately you. The hero of the story is “Kobe,” namely a Wagyu cattle.

Originated in Japan, wagyu literally means “Japanese cattle,” as “wa” means Japanese and “gyu” means “cattle.” In most of Japan, people still raise wagyu cattles which are still thought to preserve their quality of being purebred thanks to the prohibition of eating four-legged animals during the Edo period between 1603 and 1868. Kobe is one of the most renowned Wagyu cattle. In the beefsteak competition, leaving behind its formidable rivals like the meat of the red-maned matsusaka of which only heifers are butchered, “miyagi,” “hokaido” and “omi” which was consumed even during the prohibition for it was believed to have a healing effect; the meat of kobe is almost the most popular one.

Exported to only 5 countries (Hong Kong, Macau, the U.S., Thailand and Singapore), the meat of kobe cattle can cost from ten thousand dollars to one hundred thousand dollars per one kilogram. The reason that lies behind this is that the cattle are raised in open air, listening to classical music and with some beer in their diet to appetize them, with massage and overall 5 people attending one cattle; as opposed to the other breed of cattle which are raised in dim-lighted rooms, fed with cattle-feed loaded with preservatives and hormones while desperately waiting for their time to die.

The genuine Japanese beverage, “sake” is used in a massage made to relieve the stress of the kobe cattle. The stress is caused by the fact that they are kept in narrow spaces to keep their meat from getting harder, a case that might happen if they would run across the meadows.  Of course, the intention behind that massage is not only to pamper the cattle, but also to manipulate the fat distribution. Because the most important reason for their meat to be as expensive as gold is fat percentage. The body fat percentage is just 8% even in the best American beefsteak, while it may rise up to 25% and %50 in wagyu. Moreover, this fat layer does not stay wrapped around the muscle tissue, but it leads to the formation called “marbled fat” penetrating into the muscle tissue like veins of fat.

The reward for such an effort given for years really pays off for the farmer as well. Because, as kobe beefsteak costs 500 dollars per one kilogram, one serving in a luxurious restaurant costs 100 dollars. For the information of those who might complain “I will get paid that much only to eat some fat?”: the fat in question is not the kind of animal fat which is high in cholesterol, but the intramuscular fat which is a source of protein. It is also called “yazı” in Turkish.

For such meat with such fat percentage, the cooking time should be for hours and such a long time decreases its meat quality. So, it is cooked like “foie gras” with a method called “searing” in which the meat is touched the grill or hot pan only for a moment. Achieving caramelization of the sugar and protein in the meat through scorching it lightly is enough for the kobe beefsteak to reach its majestic savor.

Bon Appétit and enjoy the taste of life!


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