refers to several breeds of cattle genetically predisposed to intense marbling and to producing a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat. The meat from wagyu cattle is known worldwide for its marbling characteristics, increased eating quality through a naturally enhanced flavor, tenderness and juiciness, and thus a high market value. Several areas in Japan are famous for the quality of their Wagyu cattle, and ship beef bearing their areas' names. Some examples are Kobe, Mishima and Ohmi beef.
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.
Wagyu were initially introduced to Japan to help cultivate rice during the 2nd century. By order of the Shogun, the cowherd in Japan was closed and eating meat from any four legged animal was prohibited from 1635 to 1838. Because of Japan's rugged terrain and isolated areas, different breeding and feeding techniques were used such as massaging or adding beer or sake to their feeding regimen. 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 meat's flavor. Massaging may have been to prevent muscle cramping on small farms in Japan in which the animals did not have sufficient room to use their muscles.
There are four major breeds of wagyu (wa means Japanese, and gyū means cattle, or simply "Japanese cow"): Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn. Japanese breed names include: Tajima, Tottori, Shimane, Kochi and Kumamoto.
In America, Japanese wagyu cattle were bred to Angus cattle to create a crossbred animal that would be more able to survive the U.S. climate and ranching methods. This crossbreed has been named American Style Kobe Beef and was originally produced for export to Japan but is now available world-wide.
As of 2007 the U.S. cannot ship wagyu beef to Japan as Japan requires that beef imported from the U.S. be from cattle not older than 20 months (wagyu cattle are usually slaughtered at 30–35 months).
Sacred cows Japanese wagyu beef has been called the bovine equivalent of caviar - yet few gourmets know that much of it is farmed in Scotland.
May 06, 2006; It's been described as melt-in-the-mouth, soft as butter and the bovine equivalent of foie gras. Its provenance is specific...