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What Makes Wagyu Beef So Expensive?




  • Wagyu’s marbling makes the meat juicy and rich, making it more in-demand.
  • Kobe beef is more expensive, however, because it comes from a rarer type of cow strain.
  • Wagyu meat produces more fat than regular cow meat.

You may or may not have eaten Wagyu beef, but surely you are aware that it’s one of the most expensive types of beef in the market. Have you ever wondered what makes this native Japanese beef cattle so pricey?

The name Wagyu tranlates very literally. “Wa” means Japanese and “gyu” means cow. What makes it stand out from other beef types is its marbling or its intra-muscular fat cells.

Wagyu’s marbling is extremely tie-dyed, which makes its meat rich, tender, and juicy. This makes the beef more in-demand and expensive.

According to Alicia Rooker, editor of the website Taste of Home, “Wagyu fat melts at a lower temperature than other stakes, resulting in a rich, buttery flavor. This fat is also unsaturated and high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.”

There are four breeds of Wagyu in Japan: the Japanese Brown, the Japanese Black, and the Japanese Shorthorn.
The country regulates its Wagyu production stricly and progeny testing is a must.

This practice guarantees that only the highest quality Wagyu meat is produced. The Japanese have banned the export of the Wagyu cattle before, but now there are ranchers in the U.S. who raise them.

Wagyu is usually compared to Kobe beef, another expensive cow meat. Wagyu has different levels or strains, which include Fujiyoshi, Kedaka, and Red Wagyu. Kobe beef originated from the Tajima-Gyu strain, which more rare than wagyu. This makes Kobe more expensive. Rooker said that there are only 3000 cattle that qualify as authentic Kobe in a year.

So what is the best way to cook Wagyu beef?

According to chef Andrea Spagoni of one-Michelin-starred restaurant Beefbar, one should use less or no oil for cooking, since wagyu meat releases more fat than regular beef.

“The resting time for cooked wagyu would be shorter than other types of beef as wagyu has less blood vessels (so the meat would not lose as much juices). A good point of reference: A 200g piece of regular beef should rest for around 10 minutes, so the same cut and weight of a wagyu steak would need to be rested for a lesser time than that,” Spagoni said.

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