Updated: Aug 19, 2020
Wagyu is a breed that originates in Japan and is prized for its extraordinary marbling ability, and of course, marbling is directly proportionate to flavour and taste. Marbling refers to the little streaks of fat that develop within the muscle, not just on the outside.
The fat is special, too – melting at a lower temperature, so that a mere perfect sliver of the raw product will literally melt on the tongue, providing an exquisitely rich and sumptuous experience.
Wagyu has up to 300% more monounsaturated fat than normal beef due to the high marbling of the meat, as well as incredibly high Omega 3 and 6 content. Wagyu beef has the lowest cholesterol levels of all meats, even lower than fish or chicken, and it contains oleic acid which is considered good for your heart.
Wagyu meat can be 100% wagyu beef (genetically best chance to marble) or crossbred with other breeds. When the meat is 50% wagyu, it is called F1. At 75% Wagyu the animal is called F2. F3 would be 87.5% wagyu.
The level of cross-breeding, the age of the animal, the genetics of that particular herd, the feed, and a host of other variables come into play where marbling is concerned. For optimal marbling, the animals are fed/ grown to between 24-36months before slaughter (hence the increased cost to the meat).
So how to know if the product is worth paying the extra money for?
Putting it simply, the whole point of Wagyu is the intense intramuscular marbling that leads to the luxurious eating experience. If you’re going to pay a premium for Wagyu, make sure the cut you are buying has a decent amount of marbling.