Popular Wagyu Myths

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Myth: Wagyu Is All Fat and No Protein  

The unique marbling found in Wagyu is one of the defining characteristics that makes this beef such a highly sought-after product. It is created by intramuscular fat running throughout muscle fibers, which only occurs in Wagyu cattle with the proper genes. Unlike regular beef, Wagyu is higher in unsaturated fats and contains abundant amounts of Omega-3s. 

Diet and environment, along with genetics, are all variables that come into consideration when producing the fine marbling of Wagyu beef. Once this premium beef is produced, it is graded using strict Japanese grading criteria. BMS (Beef Marbling Standard) is one of five specific criteria considered when grading Japanese Wagyu. The more marbling there is, the higher the BMS score is graded, which essentially means higher quality Wagyu beef. 

Myth: Wagyu Is Over-Priced 

Wagyu beef is the most luxurious, exquisite, and highly sought-after beef in the world. There are only four breeds of cattle that can produce authentic Japanese Wagyu, all of which are raised in specific prefectures in Japan. These cattle are cared for by dedicated ranchers who pay crucial attention to every detail of producing high quality product. 

Its worldwide popularity has encouraged the industry to implement cutting edge traceability. The secure grading and tracking system used must allow for genuine traceability and transparency. Once cattle are born, they can be identified via nose print and a unique,10-digit Cattle ID number, which can be verified through the National Livestock Breeding Center. This number allows for anyone to research details on date of birth, gender, lineage, breed, farm, etc.  

To ensure consistency and quality, Wagyu Beef is given an overall beef quality score after it has been assessed through five, very specific grading criteria: BMS, BFS, BCS, Firmness and Texture, Yield. Grading is done through the Japan Meat Grading Association under the authority of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. The highest quality Wagyu will be graded as A5, as it must be classified Grade A for Yield, and Grade 5 in the remaining categories. 

This premium product requires rare cattle with very specific genes to be raised with the utmost care, sparing no attention to detail on diet, exercise, and environment. Strict grading allows for product to be consistent in both authenticity and quality. This exceptional beef is so highly sought after worldwide because it quite literally cannot be produced or graded to the same standards anywhere in the world, making it a unique, one of a kind product to enjoy. 
 

Myth: All Wagyu Is The Same-Region Doesn’t Matter  

Japanese Wagyu is produced using four different breeds of cattle (Black, Shorthorn, Polled, and Brown). Wagyu produced in Japan must be tracked via nose prints and Cattle ID numbers, as well as go through a strict grading system. 

Australian Wagyu is raised in a similar way, but cattle here are often crossbred. This means the cattle are offspring of one full-blooded Wagyu cattle and a domestic breed (most commonly Red or Black Angus). Australian grading is like Japan’s grading, however the Japanese BMS scale only goes from 0-9+, instead of the Japanese BMS scale of 1-12. 

American Wagyu is crossbred with Black Angus cattle as well. Due to crossbreeding and region-based diets, American and Australian Wagyu will not have the same marbling, texture, or taste as Japanese Wagyu. American wagyu is often graded in house; this is because the USDA only recognizes up to USDA Prime. Many suppliers use their own grading system based on Japanese Standards because the quality of American Wagyu is well above USDA Prime.

The Meaning of Itadakimasu

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Wagyu beef has gained a worldwide reputation due to its one-of-a-kind taste, texture, and appearance. It can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, whether that be as shabu shabu, beef tataki, sukiyaki, or simply pan-seared. Due to the extraordinarily rare characteristics of Wagyu beef, it is often given as a gift to enjoy with close friends or family. So how do you properly accept such a generous gesture?  

In proper Japanese etiquette, it is essential to perform Itadakimasu prior to enjoying a meal together. The word Itadakimasu itself, is used to accept physical items and means “I humbly receive”. However, when used to accept a meal,  it can be understood as the equivalent of “Thank you”. Performing Itadakimasu is done by placing one’s hands together, saying “Itadakimasu”, and bowing slightly. 

So the next time you sit down to enjoy our world-renowned, one-of-a-kind Wagyu beef, practice Itadakimasu! 

Which Type Of Aging Is Best For You? Dry Age vs. Wet Age

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What Does Aging Do? 

Aging allows enzymes that are naturally present in meat to break down connective tissue. The longer the meat is aged for, whether it be days or months, the more concentrated and saturated the beef becomes. Ultimately, this allows for meat to present a texture and taste much more tender than that of a freshly cut piece of meat. 

Dry Age

The breakdown of connective tissue allows for dry aging to produce very tender meat with a very concentrated flavor. This technique has become increasingly popular for creating a robust, earthy, and slightly nutty taste. Although dry aging does cause a significant amount of moisture to be lost throughout the process, the flavor created makes a variety of dishes unique. 

Wet Age

Wet aging is a newer process and seems to be increasing in popularity as well. When wet aging, beef is sealed into an air tight plastic bag, often a Cryovac sealed bag, and aged for weeks at a time. This process allows for meat to not lose moisture throughout the aging period and does not require being trimmed prior to serving it. Therefore, the yield lost through dry aging is not apparent in wet aging-essentially making this process much more time and cost efficient. 

Although the flavors produced by wet and dry aged steaks differs greatly, both processes enhance the taste and texture of the meat. Essentially, it is a matter of personal preference when choosing to dry or wet age steaks as the flavors produced is the most noticeable difference.  

Which Type of Cattle Produce Wagyu?

Japanese Wagyu has become world-renowned for its unique flavor, marbling, and texture. This exquisite beef has become highly sought-after by chefs, restaurants, and food enthusiasts worldwide. So where exactly does this luxury item come from? 

Wagyu: “Wa”-Japanese Gyu-”Cow” 

Wagyu can be produced by only four types of cattle. These cattle have been carefully bred to produce beef up to Japan’s strict grading standards. 

  1. Japanese Black (Kuroge) 
  2. Japanese Shorthorn 
  3. Japanese Polled 
  4. Japanese Brown
     

All four wagyu breeds are raised by passionate ranchers who dedicate their lives to providing the highest quality of care- paying crucial attention to the diets and environments of their cattle. To ensure consistent quality and transparent traceability throughout this process, cattle are identified at birth via nose prints, birth records, and unique Cattle ID numbers. 

Difference in Cattle 

Japanese Black cattle are the most popular in terms of producing Wagyu and are best known for producing Kobe beef. These cattle are the largest of the four breeds and come from the Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures. Japanese Shorthorn cattle are smaller than Japanese Black and tend to have slightly lower marbling scores. They are raised in the Akita, Aomori, and Iwate Prefectures. Japanese Polled are raised in the Yamaguchi Prefecture, and Japanese Brown are developed in the Kochi Prefecture. 

Diet and Environment

The diet of Wagyu cattle primarily consists of wheat, rice, corn, barley, and region-specific wholesome foods. The diets of these cattle are carefully monitored throughout each phase of their feeding period as ranchers pay close attention to food intake and exercise. Although monitoring diet is an extensive factor in raising wagyu cattle, their environment must be carefully maintained as well. To support the fine marbling of these cattle, it is important they are not exposed to, or live in, high stress environments. 
 

Each phase in raising cattle has been carefully formulated to ensure that cattle produce the proper marbling and texture that Wagyu beef has become so famously known for. The meticulous process of raising these cattle, allows these dedicated Japanese ranchers to consistently produce finely marbled and perfectly textured beef.