What is True Japanese Wagyu Beef?

This is the real deal: exceedingly hard-to-find Wagyu beef from Japan. More specifically, it is the Black Kuroge breed of Wagyu cattle, raised in the Miyazaki Prefecture on the Island of Kyushu.

This is regarded as the finest of Japanese beef, even more so than beef from the Kobe region (though you are more likely to have heard of that beef). In fact, the highly-valued miyachikuBlack Kuroge calves from Miyazaki are sent to other regions of Japan, including Kobe.

Once available only to our chef clients, we are now offering this Wagyu beef to home cooks at dartagnan.com.


This is legendary beef: bright red meat, intensely marbled with pure-white fat, and graded A-5.  What does that mean? It’s the highest possible ranking in the strict Japanese scoring system, which ranks yield and quality, then within quality specifics like: color and brightness, firmness and texture, color, luster and quality of fat.

Wagyu Beef Chart.jpg

As you can see, there are differences even within Quality Grade 5.

The Japanese system for grading beef addresses several factors: yield, marbling, color/brightness, firmness/texture and color/luster of the fat.

Grade A indicates above standard yield. In the Beef Marbling Standards scoring, the 5 means excellent in all the other criteria above.

Put them together and A-5 means the ultimate in excellence. Less than 3% of all the Wagyu produced in Japan scores that high. This beef has higher grades than you did in school.

There is nothing that can touch this beef for flavor and tenderness. For the home cook who has tried the best of everything, this Wagyu beef sets a new bar.

Cooking Japanese Wagyu Beef

Whatever you do, never overcook this Wagyu beef. Keep it rare, or you lose too much of the precious fat.  Serving size for Wagyu beef this rich is 3 – 4 ounces; think of it as the beef equivalent of foie gras. This piece of beef can serve 30-40 people; to serve only a few, cut off a 16-ounce steak.

Before cooking, allow the steak to come to room temperature, causing the fine network of fat to warm up. You will be searing it for such a short time that some of the fat might still be cold if you do not take this step.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill to the highest possible level. The hottest you have ever heated a skillet would be almost hot enough. Season the steak simply with salt and pepper, in order to allow the extraordinary flavor to shine. Sear the Wagyu for a very short time on each side. Keep in mind that you can lose 20% of the weight while searing, much like foie gras. Let it rest a moment (it’s still virtually raw inside, so not too long), and then cut into serving portions of 3 – 4 ounces each.

Many chefs cut A-5 Wagyu into carpaccio and serve it raw. For the beef to be cut wafer-thin requires that it be very cold before you slice it. Chefs often freeze it for a short time to ensure the desired carpaccio thinness.  Some cut a half-inch thick steak and char the exterior of the beef with a torch, leaving the inside rare.

If you are not serving the entire ribeye at one dinner and want to store the rest of it, then cut it into several 16-ounce portions. You must vacuum seal – oxidation is the enemy of fat – and then freeze the steaks. Because there is so much fat, Wagyu will freeze nicely and be ready for another special occasion.

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