Wednesday 1 September 2010

Wagyu Beef.

We serve 3 different cuts of Wagyu beef at Zuma, Fillet, Sirloin and Rib eye (in these pictures), served using several different cooking methods - grilled, served on sushi and charred with a blow torch, tar tare and Titaki (lightly seared).
Wagyu refers to several breads of cattle genetically predisposed to intense marbling and to produce a high percentage of unsaturated fat. The meat from Wagyu is known worldwide for its marbling characteristics, increased eating quality through a naturally enhanced flavour, tenderness and juiciness, which also leads to a high market value. In several areas of Japan, beef is shipped with area names, some examples are Kobe, Mishima, Omi beef and Sanda beef, all prized for their rich flavour, these cattle produce arguably the Worlds best beef. These different breads produce beef that range from expensive to extremely expensive (about £350 for 150g of fillet sells at retail price in Japan).
The Wagyu cattle's genetic predisposition yields a beef that contains a higher percentage of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids than typical beef. The increased marbling also improves the ratio of Monounsaturated fats to Saturated fats.

A bit of Wagyu history....
Wagyu were initially introduced to Japan as a beast of burden to help cultivate rice. By order of the Shogun, the Cattle herd in Japan was closed and eating meat from any four legged animal was prohibited from 1635-1838. Because of Japans rugged terrain and isolated villages, different breading and feeding techniques were used such as massaging or adding beer or Sake to the animals feed. It is suggested that this was done to aid in digestion and induce hunger during humid seasons, but appears to have no effect on the meats flavour. Massaging may have been to prevent muscle cramping on small farms in which animals did not have sufficient room to move their muscles.

Australian Wagyu is the largest breed association outside of Japan. Both full blood and Wagyu cross cattle are farmed in Australia for domestic and overseas markets, these include, Tiawan, China, Hong Kong, France, Germany, the US and us here in the UK.
Australian Wagyu cattle are grain fed for at least 300-500 days of production, Wagyu breed in Western Austraila's Margaret River region often have red wine added to their feed!
I have heard roumers of Wagyu production here in the UK, the problem that we have here is space. Although less than 100,000 of the 2.8 million head of cattle in Australia are Wagyu or Wagyu infused, the long feed nature of Wagyu production takes up to 40% of Australias feedlot space in any 12 month period.
This is why we pay so much for Wagyu beef (or Auz Kobe as it is known) in London, Nobu sell 50 grams of Wagyu for £17.50, the average sized staek in most restarants are cut at about 150-200 grams, thats £52.50-£70 for an average sized Wagyu steak!

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