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Wagyu beef is, without a doubt, a much sought-after delicacy, but it can be hard to find. This rare cut of meat is well worth the hassle to acquire though. Once you sink your teeth into this buttery and flavorful steak, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it sooner, and you may even wish all beef was like this. But the cost can make a lot of people choke.
How much is Wagyu beef? Wagyu beef tends to run anywhere from $150 a pound to a whopping $200 a pound, depending on where you get it and what kind of Wagyu it is.
That’s quite a chunk of money, but Wagyu beef is totally worth it. Read on to learn more about this fascinating and savory high-end beef.
What is Wagyu beef?
Perhaps you were wondering what to expect price-wise when looking for your beef, or maybe you just stumbled across this article. Either way, we should learn a bit more about the beef before we dig into the proverbial meat of this article. Pardon the puns.
Wagyu literally translates to “Japanese beef”, with “Wa” meaning Japanese and “gyu” meaning beef. This special type of cow was bred in Japan originally as a kind of work animal used in some agriculture. That means that they were bred to be strong and hardy. Wagyu could mean any of the four types of cattle that hail from Japan, of which there is the Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, and rarely there are also the Japanese Polled and Japanese Shorthorn types of cattle.
This type of beef is known for its signature marbled look. It comes from the fat being distributed fairly evenly throughout the entire cut. That’s opposed to a typical piece of beef where the fat is usually really tough and surrounds the outer edges of most cuts. The characteristic marbled nature of the fine fat through the whole cut of Wagyu makes this type of beef have a very tender and juicy texture. It also adds a kind of buttery flavor.
This huge difference between Wagyu beef and the meat from other kinds of cows is largely due to the fact that Wagyu cattle was separated from other types of cows some 35,000 years ago. That helped it to evolve slightly different from all the others. Through careful breeding and a specific diet, Wagyu cows developed the intra-muscular fat deposits that cause that characteristic and prized marbling effect that you see today.
How much is Wagyu beef?
Wagyu beef is a high-end type of beef, from a very high-end kind of cow. Since this kind of cow was raised and bred and fed carefully (and usually in incredibly small herds), you should brace yourself for the incoming price.
Wagyu beef typically runs about $150 to $200 a pound. No, that’s not a typo, this beef actually runs that much per pound. Before you start having a heart attack just by looking at that price, you’ve got to keep in mind that this is a specialty type of meat. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill cut of steak; this stuff is really for the most serious of meat connoisseurs.
It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try some if you get the chance. Just be ready to fork out a whole lot of moolah for it. Yes… more puns.
Why is Wagyu beef so expensive?
Upon reading about Wagyu beef many are curious to try it. However, usually when people see that heavy price tag that comes with Wagyu beef most people’s first reaction is “What? Why?!”
Why, indeed. What exactly is the difference in this particular meat that makes it so pricey? What gives it the right to carry such a heavy tag? Why is this Japanese beef much more expensive than the American kind?
Well, for the most part, that hefty price tag is because of how the cows are bred and raised. It takes a lot of resources and science to raise these animals to get that perfect marbling. The price is also partly to do with where they come from. Space is at a premium in Japan, and then there’s shipping the meat, too.
Even though they were originally bred for labor, their meat was found to be really delicious and pretty special. Now a lot are being used as food as well.
While Wagyu beef wasn’t always so well-known, it has increased in popularity in more recent years. As we all know, more demand means higher prices. The wave of excitement over Wagyu beef has spiked the value of this export at a staggering 200% within the past five years alone. This increase in demand is putting pressure on farmers to breed more cows, which can increase the price as well.
What is the best way to prepare Wagyu beef?
While technically you could easily cook a Wagyu steak like any other kind of steak, there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing it like that. However, since you’re usually going to have to drop a fat wad of cash into buying your Wagyu beef, you may as well take the extra time and effort to prepare it properly to get the most out of your steak.
The good news is that properly preparing your fancy Wagyu steak isn’t going to require a background in culinary school or hours of preparation with only the best spices.
One of the most important parts of this whole affair is going to be picking the right cut of Wagyu for how you plan on cooking it. There are many different types to choose from, so choose your cut carefully and plan your meal accordingly. Remember that certain cuts will be more expensive than others, and what you need to cook the meat will change, too, so factor that into your meal planning.
If you’ve bought your Wagyu online, chances are good it will come in a vacuum-sealed package, either fully or partially frozen. If you plan on making it at a later date, you should be sure to store it properly by leaving it in its package and freezing immediately.
If you plan on making your Wagyu right away, then let’s talk about how to properly thaw it out. You’ll want to place your steak on a plate in the fridge, making sure to leave it in its package. Most chefs suggest to thaw frozen beef six hours per pound or so.
Once the long wait is over, you should prepare to cook it right away, so as to get the most beef flavors and have the ultimate freshness. Take your Wagyu out of the fridge about 30 minutes from when you plan to cook it, so it can safely reach room temperature. This should give you ample time to set up your workstation for maximum efficiency. The closer to room temperature your steak is, the better and more evenly-cooked it should get.
Once you’re all set up and your Wagyu is room temperature, you can season it with salt and pepper, or your own favorite steak seasoning. Just make sure you don’t over season it. Because of its light buttery flavor, you’ll want to have your Wagyu lightly seasoned to fully enjoy those natural flavors better.
However you plan on cooking your steak, grilled or pan-seared on a cast iron pan, the next most important thing is that you don’t overcook it. Chefs and foodies alike largely agree that the best way to cook this kind of beef is medium-rare, as this brings out the most flavor and retains its soft and buttery texture.
If you’re unsure of whether your steak is fully cooked and safe to eat, stick a food thermometer (see Amazon) deep into the thickest part of the meat. If its internal temperature is at a minimum of 145, it should be safe for consumption. Once you’re comfortable with cooking Wagyu on a cast iron pan, you can then move on to fancier and more elaborate types of cooking methods.
You can also have a look at this video to show you how to cook A5 Wagyu beef in 3 different ways.
Hopefully, this article has given you a glimpse of the luxurious meat world, and has made you curious to sink your teeth into some delicious and one-of-a-kind Wagyu!