Guide to Wagyu Beef
What is Wagyu beef?
Wagyu beef is meat from a specific breed of Japanese cattle. This type of cattle has a genetic predisposition to having a large degree of fat marbling inside their muscle tissues, resulting in a uniquely rich taste. Wagyu breeders take great care to raise their cattle in environments free of stress (which deteriorates the quality of meat) in order to maximize the flavor of their yield. Wagyu spend roughly twice as much time grazing as standard cattle, are fed a very specific diet (which is often a closely guarded secret), and have access to fresh water at all times.
After a Wagyu is slaughtered and processed, several qualified inspectors perform an assessment and assign the meat a grade based on a strict set of standards. The grading of Wagyu is a function of variety of factors, such as marbling, texture, firmness, yield, and color. Very few Wagyu score at the highest level in all of these categories, and those select few are graded A5, the highest grade possible.
What is Kobe beef?
Kobe beef is a specific type of Wagyu beef. Specifically, Kobe beef comes from Tajima Wagyu strain of Japanese cattle raised in the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan (of which Kobe, Japan is the capital city) and is processed by businesses licensed by The Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association. Because of how prized Kobe beef is in Japan, only very small quantities are exported outside of Japan each year.