Whether Buying Wagyu Beef at a restaurant or Buying Wagyu Beef at a market, make sure you know: What is the country of origin? Only Japan and Australia have full blooded Wagyu being sold. All US producers cross their Wagyu with Angus, which will not reach the A5 muscle size or beef marbling score (BMS) of this authentic Japanes Wagyu. We suggest serving on a Himalayan Salt Plate.
Wagyu refers to four breeds of Japanese cows whose ancestors came from Korea in the 2nd century. Historically, these hard-working cows were selectively bred for their stamina, not for consumption. As a result, intramuscular fat, or marbling, provides these cows with energy to sustain long work days. Today, the marbling characteristics of Wagyu Beef (Japanese cow) produce a tender, juicy, unctuous naturally-enhanced flavor that melts in your mouth and will enchant even the most discerning carnivore connoisseur.
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The ancestors of Wagyu cows came to Japan from Korea in the 2nd century. From this time on, cows were selected for their stamina. Intramuscular fat (also known as marbling) provides cows with energy they need to sustain work. Because Wagyu store fat in their muscles, they have less energy to devote to milk production. Therefore, Wagyu have always been dependent on humans to care for their calves.
Between 1635 and 1853, Japan experienced a period of isolationism, during which, the consumption of any four legged animal was forbidden. Soon after this period, the Japanese people developed an appetite for their highly marbled Wagyu steak. In 1864, European cows were introduced to the island to cross-breed with Wagyu and feed the growing demand for Wagyu beef. Fortunately, some farms chose to maintain pure-bred herds of Wagyu.
Breeds of Wagyu include: Japanese Black (Kuroge washu), Japanese Brown (Akage Washu or Akaushi), Japanese Polled (Mukaku Washu), and Japanese Shorthorn (Nihon Tankaku Washu). Japanese Black makes up 90% of all fattened cattle in Japan; strains include Tottori, Tajima, Shimane, and Okayama. Japanese Brown, also known as Japanese Red, is the other main breed; strains include Kochi and Kumamoto. Japanese Shorthorn makes up less than one percent of all cattle in Japan. These breeds are usually named after the towns or regions where they have evolved through selective breeding. Pure Bred Wagyu refers to any combination of these original breeds.
Wagyu vs Kobe
Japan has several regional beef brands such as Kobe, Mishima, Matsusaka, Omi, and Sanda, which are all registered trademarks. These brands establish production standards. Kobe Beef is the most famous brand because the port of Kobe opened in 1869, after isolationism, and was the first place westerners could be found buying Wagyu. Therefore, the city of Kobe was the first place foreign travelers tasted Wagyu Steak. Kobe Beef requires that the cow be Tajima breed, born in Hyoho Prefecture, raised to 30 months, and slaughtered at specific sites. Contrary to popular belief, feeding cows beer or massaging them with sake is not required for Kobe Beef and is very uncommon. Tajima cows, destined to be Kobe Beef, are fed soybean, corn, barley, wheat bran, and can never be fed grass. Japan does not have enough land to grow feed grains; therefore, most of the feed used on Japanese farms is imported from Australia or the United States.
According to the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Association, a mere 3,000 head of certified Kobe Beef cattle exist today, all of which are in Japan.