3/19/08

What’s the Beef? Kobe vs. Wagyu

It’s now time for Cow Talk 101… A class that likely none of us signed up for in college.

Kobe beef has been in the fine food lexicon for a while, and now the latest buzz steak is the Wagyu. What are they and how do they compare?

All Kobe is Wagyu.

What..? Let me try to break this down for you…

Wagyu is a breed of cattle (actually a few related breeds) genetically predisposed to dense marbling and a high percentage of unsaturated fat, resulting in a supremely tender, flavorful and luxurious cut of meat. With its origins in Japan dating back to the 2nd century, Wagyu cattle developed it’s characteristics in large part due to the breeding and feeding techniques developed for the various climates and rugged terrain of that country. Wagyu cattle are now also raised in America as well as Australia.

Kobe beef is from Wagyu cattle, but these cattle originate solely from Kobe, Japan and meet the strict production guidelines from that prefecture (each region has differing procedures). These traditional practices can include a diet including beer and sake, as well as daily massages to relax the muscles. Some might say this sounds like a nice life, until the visit to the butcher..! This process provides Kobe beef with its own individual set of characteristics (flavor, texture) compared to other types of Wagyu.

So remember, all Kobe beef is from Wagyu cattle, but not all Wagyu beef is from Kobe.

2 comments :

All Kobe beef is Wagyu, but all Wagyu is not Kobe beef. The regular Wagyu basically looks like regular steak - well marbled, but nothing out of the ordinary, and costs about $30-$40/lb. Wagyu beef can be raised in Japan, United States, or mostly in Australia. Real Kobe beef only comes from Kobe Japan (nowhere else on earth). The real Kobe beef is so heavily marbled with fat that it almost looks like foie gras laced beef. It is virtually impossible to find in the United States and sells for upwards of $500/lb, if you can find it. That is the difference between Wagyu and Kobe beef.

Beware of anything less than $300/pound claiming to be true Kobe beef because it is simply $40/pound Wagyu in disguise.

All Kobe beef is Wagyu, but all Wagyu is not Kobe beef. The regular Wagyu basically looks like regular steak - well marbled, but nothing out of the ordinary, and costs about $30-$40/lb. Wagyu beef can be raised in Japan, United States, or mostly in Australia. Real Kobe beef only comes from Kobe Japan (nowhere else on earth). The real Kobe beef is so heavily marbled with fat that it almost looks like foie gras laced beef. It is virtually impossible to find in the United States and sells for upwards of $500/lb, if you can find it. That is the difference between Wagyu and Kobe beef.

Beware of anything less than $300/pound claiming to be true Kobe beef because it is simply $40/pound Wagyu in disguise.