What is Wagyu?
If you are a beef lover, you might have heard before some Japanese grading numbers or prefectures which are almost impossible to remember and pronounce.
Some of these terms are complicated to understand for consumers in the United States because they are very technical. People might think they understand familiar terms like “wagyu (和牛 -わぎゅう)”, but in actuality, there are a lot of misconceptions.
In the recent trend, customers and chefs at restaurants started seeking more information on “what they are actually eating”, wanting to know exactly where it came from. Let us help you here with insights about Wagyu for more enjoyment. Do not be afraid -- cows do not bite you. With a little bit of knowledge and appetite, Wagyu can become a wider part of our daily lives
Wagyu can literally be translated into “Japanese cow”. “Wa (和)” means Japanese, and “Gyu (牛)” means cow or beef. However, Wa does not simply denote something as originating from Japan -- it implies its significance and harmony in Japanese culture. More importantly, it represents the Japanese state of mind, harmony, and peace.
Only four bleeds can be Wagyu
Wagyu refers to beef obtained from cattle breed in Japan. Only four breeds are approved to be called Wagyu. Even if the cow was born and raised in Japan, other than these four, it cannot be considered as a Wagyu.
Simply described, Wagyu means Japanese cow. When translated, "Wa" means Japanese, and "gyu" means cow. However, this simple word reveals a subject rife with myths. However, Wa does not simply denote something as originating from Japan -- it implies its significance and harmony in Japanese culture. More importantly, it represents the Japanese state of mind, harmony, and peace.
To begin, it's pronounced wah-gyoo, not wah-goo, a widespread mispronunciation even among American Wagyu producers. And Wagyu isn't a catch-all phrase for any Japanese cow. The luxury Wagyu that we all want on our plates refers to four specific breeds of Japanese cattle with unique genetic characteristics and even if the cow was born and raised in Japan, other than these four, it cannot be considered as a Wagyu, which are Kuroge (Black), Aakage (Brown), Nihon Tankaku (Shorthorn), and Mukaku (Polled).
Highly marbled meat has a wonderfully full flavor and creamy texture, making it the ideal choice for many Japanese Wagyu fans. Wagyu beef has the most incredible marbling of any livestock. Consider a standard piece of steak. It'll almost certainly have a large-cap on the outside. The fat in Wagyu is metabolized internally by the cow, therefore it is incorporated inside the muscle.
The result is a thick, delicious cut of wagyu beef that virtually melts on your mouth. "When you have high-end Wagyu, you almost don't want to cook it." You want to keep the core as raw as possible. But it would still be juicy if cooked medium or medium-well. The slice of Wagyu beef will melt in your mouth.