Feb 23, 2012

Wagyu Steaks, the Best in the World

Japan, although a relatively small country geographically, has long been recognized as one of the world’s leading exporters of top-of-the-line electronic machinery and vehicles in the world. But fewer people may know that Japan is also the producer of the highest quality and most expensive meat in the world: Wagyu steaks.

More popularly known as Kobe steaks or Kobe beef, this sort of meat is known for its price, marbled texture, extra tenderness, juiciness, fattiness and also for the unique method of its production. It’s a local delicacy in Japan, where if it is not served raw in the form of sushi, it is lightly cooked in the forms of teppanyaki, sashimi, shabu shabu or sukiyaki. Outside Japan, diners are most likely to enjoy it cooked as steak.

Production of Wagyu beef started as an old tradition in the early days of Japan. This traditional method of meat production was passed from one generation to another with virtually no changes or alterations to the procedures. Meat cannot be called Wagyu beef or Kobe beef if does not originate come from the Tajima breed of cattle or if the cattle are then not born and raised in Hyogo Prefecture.

Strict farm feeding is key to the process. Cattle are regularly fed with beer to maximize their appetite and farm owners even hire masseurs to habitually massage the cows and ensure level distribution of fat in the body. The bulls are then castrated to purify their meat. Once the cows are ready for slaughter, they are taken to a select few authorized slaughterhouses in Hyogo Prefecture. The only places where cattle are allowed to be butchered are Himeji, Kakogawa, Sanda, Nishinomiya and Kobe.

The process does not end with the slaughter. It is then required that the maximum weight of meat obtained from one cow is only 470 kilograms. After the slicing of beef, it is then graded and must score at least at level 6 in marbling ratio or BMS and 4 to 5 in meat quality.

If you’re going to buy steak online and want to experience the unparalleled flavor of Wagyu steak, keep in mind that Kobe meat is very expensive. Compared to its imitation called "Kobe-style beef," which usually costs about $50 per pound, it can be 10 times the price. But who says you need a pound of meat to be able to experience the Wagyu steak at least once in your life? A slice is all it takes for you to fall for this great Japanese delicacy.

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