Sunday, August 3, 2014

What is Wagyu Beef?

Wagyu has become very popular in recent years among meat lovers, cattle breeders and restaurant owners. What exactly is wagyu?

I hear people talk about wagyu beef but I'm not sure if the information they're giving me is correct or not. To get the correct information, I usually make a research on my own and here is what I found out in this case, particularly about wagyu beef. 

Wagyu simply means Japanese cow. It is a breed of cattle that is raised in many parts of Japan and is known for its higher omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids content than ordinary beef. 

4 Types of wagyu:

Japanese black cow 

The Japanese black cow accounts for 90% of the total number of cattle currently raised in Japan. Other breeds include: Okayama, Tottori, Tajima and Shimane.

The Japanese brown cow 

This is also called Japanese red and include the breeds Komamoto and Kuchi.

The Japanese polled cattle

The Japanese polled is a type of cattle that is now critically endangered. At the start of the twentieth century, all wagyu cattle had foreign influence through cross-breeding and the Japanese polled has a strong influence from the Scottish angus cattle. 

The Japanese shorthorn

This breed accounts for less that 1% of the total number of cows raised. This type of wagyu cattle derived its influence from the shorthorn cattle with some influence from the Ayrshire and Devon cattle breeds. 

When wagyu was introduced to the US, it was cross bred with Angus cows and the result became what they call the American Style Kobe Beef. Wagyu raisers  would feed their cows with wheat straw, corn, alfalfa and barley to give the Japanese cows the kind of diet that they would get in Japan.

Wagyu was introduced in Canada only very recently in 1991 at bout the same time that the Canadian Wagyu Association was formed. There are only two Canadian provinces where Japanese cows are raised - the provinces of Prince Edward Island and Alberta 

Outside Japan, the largest breeders of wagyu are those who belong to the Australian Wagyu Association. They raise pure-bred and cross-bred wagyu which they supply to large wagyu consuming countries including the US, UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Singapore, HK, China and Taiwan. The cows are fed with grass on the last 300 to 500 days of fattening. The cows raised in this Down Under region of Margaret River is also fed with feeds mixed with red wine probably to enhance the flavor of the meat and to fully enjoy the health benefits of wine.