Ask any foodie their preferred choice of beef and you are likely to hear a significant number of “Kobe wagyu” answers. Then again do they really know what wagyu is or is the reply purely based on association?
Wagyu (和牛) which means Japanese beef has to come from specific breeds of Japanese cattle –Japanese Black (黒毛和種), Japanese Brown (赤毛和種), Japanese Polled (無角和種 ), & Japanese Shorthorn (日本短角和種).
What about Australia/American wagyu? Many of these farms have imported the wagyu breeds from Japan; however most farms have strayed from pure breeds and thus crossbred the bloodlines with local cattle (not really pure wagyu). So be wary the next time you go grocery shopping, Kobe style wagyu from Idaho isn’t quite Kobe wagyu (only from Hyogo Prefecture) though the quality is still as good.
Kobe wagyu made its first appearance in Singapore in 2013, and 2 years later, 2015 sees Matsusaka wagyu making its way to our shores – thanks to Swiss Butchery. We were invited to a preview at Feedlot Steakhouse to sample the new cow on the block.
Matsusaka wagyu beef 松阪牛, is known as “The Queen of Dignity”, and is recognised as one of the the top three types of beef in Japan together with Kobe & Omi. For years, it has remained one of Japan’s best-kept secrets and an exquisite Japanese delicacy due to the limited supply (more on that later) and high domestic demand.
Matsusaka wagyu hails from Ito-san’s farm which is located in the rich serene pastures within the Mie Prefecture. The cattle are typically fed tofu and ground wheat, receive massages, listen to Mozart’s symphonies, and an occasional pint of beer for relaxation – these cows have better lives than many of us.
It’s believed that these relaxing methods help produce a finer quality of beef as a happy cow gives good meat. Unlike Kobe wagyu, which uses both the heifers and steers; Matsusaka waygu utilises virgin heifers that are raised close to three years before being processed into your lovely cuts of steak. Heifers by the way, refer to a young female cow before she has given birth, while steers refer to a castrated male cow.
Matsusaka wagyu is known for it’s signature marbled appearance and tenderness. Japanese beef is graded based on its marbled fat content, and beyond the highest grade of A5, there is another set of grading scale from 1 to 12 reserved for the best of the best.
The ever popular Kobe gets a 6 whereas Matsusaka is >8. The white marbling patterns for the latter are multiples of very thin fat layers whereas the former tends to have few but thicker fat layers. Personally, I enjoy the fattiness of both wagyus but Matsusaka has a stronger more robust beefy flavour than Kobe.
There are a few ways to enjoy wagyu, one of which is to go for a sashimi option with salt (not soy sauce). I preferred mine just plain though.
Chunks of meat rendering in their own fat juices, the chef had to empty the pan after every batch. Absolutely no oil is needed due to the high fat content of the beef. I sure hope they use the
juices oil to make awesome yorkshire puddings.
And one of the crowd favorites of cooking wagyu is in a Sukiyaki. Just blanche the thin strips of matsusaka beef in the hot boiling pot for a few seconds and its ready to eat. You can also coat it with eggs after for a thicker eggy finish. The thin strips of Matsusaka beef just melts in your mouth.
If you want to get your hands on this beef, Matsusaka wagyu beef will be available in Singapore exclusively at the Swiss Butchery.
Pricings: $50-$60 per 100grams
short rib, chuck roll, flank
Pricings: $35-$38 per 100 grams