Marbling in Wagyu ~ It’s what all the “cool people” are talking about
One taste and you will understand why wagyu beef is considered a delicacy. The meat produced from the black Tajima-ushi breed of Japanese Wagyu cattle is unlike any other beef on the planet. It behaves differently than any other beef thanks to its highly prized extensive inter-muscular fat or “marbling” as the culinary cool call it and the low heat required at which this fat will reach melting point . It’s these qualities that give Wagyu meat its unique rich quality and succulent melt in the mouth texture.
This huge amount of fat is also the reason why when cooking a good slab of Wagyu steak it needs to be handled differently to a normal cut of beef. The fat that is found in a good cut of Wagyu may seem excessive to those who are concerned about eating a healthy well balanced diet, but in actual fact, Wagyu meat is high in unsaturated fats which means it produces less energy or has fewer calories than other types of fat that you may find in the other beef products like butter and cream. It is the chemical composition of unsaturated fat which is the reason why it melts at lower temperatures compared with saturated fats which are more solid at ambient temperatures and less prone to rancidity and have better keeping qualities, hence why food manufacturers love using high levels of them in processed foods.
Wagyu meat is graded on a scale determined by the amount of inter- muscular fat it contains, the quality and color of the fat , the color of the meat and the meats texture. The higher the number, the better the quality. When choosing your slice of heaven, make sure to get advice from your butcher and do your homework, as the cost per kilo can be out of reach of everyday dinners.
Below you will find a recipe for a large sirloin cut of Wagyu. The piece should weigh in excess of 700g and of the highest grade that your bank manager will allow. If you don’t own an induction cook top, you might want to try cooking in two pans, one inside the other to act as a heat diffuser and at the same time have the flame or element set on the absolute lowest possible heat setting.
You can of course cook Wagyu by slicing into small pieces and frying gently as pictured to the right, or by cutting into paper thin slices and serving it Shabu Shabu style, but if your fortunate to have the opportunity to get your hands on the best, the method described below is worth re-mortgaging your house for. Enjoy!
The Ultimate Wagyu Beef Cooking Guidelines
1 slab of Wagyu Sirloin steak 700g-1kg in weight.
1 Tbsp of grapeseed oil
Sea salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh wasabi and soy sauce to serve
- Before you start to prepare your wagyu, ensure that it has been stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator, covered completely in cling film. The meat needs to cooked straight from the fridge, as cold as possible to ensure the fat renders gently.
- Carefully trim the external fat from around the outside of the Sirlion ~if this hasn’t already been done for you by your butcher. Keep the fat and render at a later stage by chopping into small chunks or mincing and placing into a small pot on induction setting 2 and leaving to gentle melt to a liquid. Drain through a fine seive and store in the fridge to use in pastry cases, pie crusts, for frying and basting.
- Wrap the meat in cling film and put it back in to the fridge to chill again for at least one hour.
- Prepare the steak for frying by gently and carefully patting the steak dry with paper towles before covering every single inch of the larger cut sides of the steak with ground natural sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Using a small knife, flatten the spices and gentle push into the flesh.
- Heat a large non stick heavy bottomed frying pan on induction setting 8 with 1 Tbsp of grapeseed oil until a light haze comes off the pan. Reduce the setting down to 7 and place the beef into the pan and cook on one side for 90 seconds to create a delicious crust on the outside. Flip the steak carefully and repeat. You want the outside of the steak to a be a beautiful caramelized brown, and it may require additional time if you are not using an induction cooktop.
- Set the induction cooktop onto heat setting 1, place a lid on the fry pan and allow the steak to ever so gentle cook for 45 minutes to an hour. There is no need to turn the heat up on the cook top as the heat captured in the pan with the lid on will create a very gentle yet very complete heat that is evenly distributed and warm enough to cook the steak through without shocking it so it looses all its fat.
- Once the cooking time is up, remove the steak from the pan and slice into mouth sized chunks. Serve with fresh wasabi on top of each slice and a light soy sauce drizzled over top.
- Serves 4