There are magically wonderful things on this planet. Things that boggle the mind. In the culinary and dietary world, there is no shortage of such marvels. Amongst these wonders comes a meat that will surely make your head tilt in confusion like your pet dog Spot.
Japanese Wagyu Beef.
Enough said? No? Well, I am here to tell you… you couldn’t be more wrong to skip over this cut without trying it out! Between the deliciousness that is melt-in-your-mouth goodies to the health benefits Wagyu can bring, you will no longer second guess the crazy price tags that come with this beef.
While chatting up my husband about topics to discuss, Chef Moises pointed out the number one rule for Wagyu: it has to Japanese. Sorry ‘Murica, Japan is unmatched when it comes to the care of the beef cattle. One of the biggest factors is the feeding. Japanese cattle have a very strict diet, consisting of mostly barley, corn, rice bran, and wheat bran.
This feeding period (before the cattle are sold off to market) lasts an entire 250+ days longer than American Wagyu. Not to forget, the love given to these Japanese cows is better than most relationships these days. The massaging and reed whipping is a real thing. They don’t just make it up for TV fluff. All this, combined with tightly held secrets from farmers, the Japanese Wagyu tops all other beef, hands down.
The Health Benefits Of Wagyu Beef
Further conversations and research led me to the most exciting news, IT’S HEALTH BENEFITS!! If you’re anything like me, hailing from the Midwest, you’re not a huge seafood fan. With a whole group of foods knocked off the possible food pyramid, searching for lean healthy meats that isn’t chicken was hard to come by. How do I replace all those fatty acids and Omega-3’s that come with fish and nuts? Good news! Wagyu beef is the one red meat that can actually promote good heart health and assist in weight loss. But, how does that work if the cut of beef is riddled with fat?
Red meat, traditionally, is not something to eat when dieting and cutting out fats. With the magical Wagyu though, we can throw those notions out the door! Wagyu hosts some of the highest counts of Mono-saturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs) than most nuts and oils, and even lean fish. MUFAs are great at lowering total cholesterol, improvement in the function of blood vessels, and possible benefits in maintaining insulin levels.
Let’s not forget all the essential amino acids, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids packed inside this wonder meat. These acids have been favored for lowering risk of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. If you’re counting calories, save them up! This is not light on calories, but who can be mad at good fats?
What Is An IMF Percentage?
The marbling that is quintessential for quality Japanese Wagyu is the reason why this meat is so mystical. The higher the grading in the beef food scale, the more marbling you’ll see. A5 wagyu, the highest grading you can get will guarantee an Intramuscular Fat (IMF%) percentage of 44-57%. The higher the content, the more good stuff that comes with the steak. The IMF% gives the beef its melting quality. These fats are only solid at colder temperatures, turning into melting, buttery rivers of flavor within each bite. This high quality beef is commonly called Meat Butter within the culinary world because it acts as such. A touch on the tongue and it begins to dissolve. The salty, beefy decadence is heaven with every bite.
Less Is More With Wagyu Beef
Convincing enough yet? If that hasn’t won over you just yet, the best thing about Wagyu is the way its prepared. You can’t get much easier. Salt and pepper (pink Himalayan is said to break down the fats better, whereas kosher salt with contract the fats and muscles making for a tighter meat) and butter. That is all you need. Add butter to a hot skillet, set on high heat. Sprinkle pink salt and black pepper liberally on all sides of cut.
REMEMBER: Leave cut at least at 3 inch cubes to ensure best texture!
Place beef in skillet until browned on all sides, basting with butter consistently. Browning should take only 45-60 seconds each side. Pull out of skillet, let rest for at least 10 minutes. DON’T TOUCH! This is a very important step in cooking any meat. Allowing the meat to rest, gives the cut time to soak up all the fats, flavor, and oils back into itself. After resting, temperature should be a rare to medium rare. Any more than that, you will be ruining the meat, it will dry out quickly if over cooked. Slice and serve. Quick and easy. A decadent, rich, healthy meat to pair with whatever side (steamed rice is a go to) you choose to have.
Next time you’re at the market, in the middle of Little Tokyo, or out at your favorite steakhouse and Japanese Wagyu is on the menu, grab it up. You won’t be disappointed when the crossroads to healthy cuisine and guilty pleasure intersect.