Wagyu: The Most Sought After Beef PLUS 4 Mouthwatering Recipes To Make

Words: Crush

It’s pretty common knowledge that Wagyu beef is synonymous with luxury. Wagyu is transcendently tender, has an almost buttery flavour and has that sought after ‘melt in the mouth’ feel. This type of beef has been all the craze abroad and now locally, The Certified Wagyu Beef Program is transforming the South African beef industry by raising Wagyu for consumers who are wanting to enjoy a premium and healthier eating experience.

What Is Wagyu Beef

The name actually means Japanese beef. ‘Wa’ meaning Japanese and ‘gyu’ meaning beef. The name sounds like a general blanket for Japanese beef, but it actually refers to a specific breed of Japanese cattle with special genetic qualities. Unlike generic cattle, Wagyu beef breeds actually metabolise the fat internally, so it is integrated within the muscle, instead of having that fat cap on its outside.

According to the Wagyu Society of South Africa, there are two breeds of Wagyu produced in South Africa, black and red. The black breed is slightly smaller than its red counterpart, though genetically different, they both have exceptional marbling. For those of you who are unsure what ‘marbling’ means it simply refers to the white flecks of intramuscular fat, located between and within muscle fibres visible in each cut of meat. Marbling is responsible for adding a lot of flavour to the beef.

The red breed of Wagyu is called Akaushi; just like its black counterpart, it has excellent marbling, excellent growth and good fertility. This breed actually looks quite similar to South Africa’s indigenous red breeds of cattle. This type of beef is surprisingly more nutritious than generic cattle, it contains a much higher amount of healthy fats (monounsaturated fats) and omega 3 and 6. Another ‘stand-out’ quality of Wagyu is that this type of cattle has a longer lifespan than other beef cattle, resulting in a more flavoursome cut of beef.

Wagyu Beef In South Africa

Wagyu beef was first introduced in South Africa in 1999 when the first embryos were imported from the US. In 2014, The Wagyu Society was established. The introduction of Wagyu Beef has forever changed the beef industry in South Africa, there are now over 140 members/breeders belonging to the Wagyu Society. There are a total of about 20,000 Wagyu cattle.

Although we may have started breeding and producing Wagyu later than most of the world, it has become obvious to South African breeders that Wagyu cattle are highly adaptable, making it easier than initially thought to breed this type of beef.

How To Cook Wagyu

It’s important that the cut of meat is taken out of the fridge thirty minutes to an hour before cooking –this is to guarantee that the Wagyu beef comes to room temperature, ensuring that it cooks perfectly and evenly from the surface to centre. A common misconception is that the pan should be on high-heat when cooking it, however, Wagyu actually cooks better over medium heat, so that the fat has time to render.

Another interesting point to note when cooking Wagyu is that it’s better to use a spatula instead of tongs. Tongs actually stretch the meat when picking it up and with Wagyu, you don’t want the meat to stretch because of its high marble quality. When cooking Wagyu you want to be constantly turning the meat in the pan to create an even sear.

Mouthwatering Wagyu Recipes

Wagyu Flat Iron Prego Steak Roll

Although the prego roll might be a Portuguese classic, it has become embedded in South African culture with street vendors selling prego rolls around the country. The prego roll is a simple, delicious sandwich with tender steak covered in a spicy and garlicky prego sauce hugged by a floured soft roll. The soft roll is important, that way all the juices are absorbed perfectly and you get more flavour in every bite.

We gave this much-loved classic an upgrade by using perfectly cooked and juicy Wagyu Flat Iron steak.

This recipe will be the favourite of your Heritage Day braai, the best part is that Wagyu should preferably be cooked in a cast-iron, freeing up more space on the braai for corn, tomatoes, all the delicious vegetables and sides. Beef supplied by Zuney Wagyu.

Recipe for Wagyu Flat Iron Prego Steak Roll

Wagyu Denver Steak Salad with Caramelised Pears, Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Perfect for those who love a good leafy green with their meat. Not only is Wagyu beef regarded as a healthier beef alternative but it is also melt-in-your-mouth tender and delicious.

Say bye-bye to boring steak salads and enjoy a delicious upgraded version.

Perfectly tender Wagyu Denver Steak served with spicy rocket, sweet pears and punchy blue cheese. The most filling, refreshing and delicious salad for Heritage Day. Beef supplied by Zuney Wagyu.

Recipe for Wagyu Steak Salad

Wagyu Chuck Eye Steaks with Herb Compound Butter and Shoestring Fries

You’ve been to a steak house and ordered a steak with shoestring fries and been happy with your decision, right? Now imagine if you were able to mimic that at home but be even more blown away by the quality of meat. Searing the perfect Wagyu steak and serving with a simple but punchy herb butter is steakhouse bliss at home.

This seared steak with herby melty butter is everything you want to eat on a more elegant Braai Day.

We love it served with crispy fries but it will go just as well with any number of your favourite braai sides. Beef supplied by Zuney Wagyu.

Recipe for Wagyu Chuck Eye Steak and Shoestring Fries

Wagyu Beef Short Rib Ragu with Pap and Spicy Smoor

We’ve taken a traditional South African dish of pap and smoor and incorporated a high-quality, decadent Wagyu ragu. Wagyu short ribs are perfect for slow cooking, so if you feel like having a stress free Heritage Day, this is the recipe for you. The intramuscular fat and collagen breaks down and melts into the braising liquid, giving it an unparalleled flavour.

This dish is an indulgent ode to classic South African flavours that we love.

A new family favourite recipe in the making. Beef supplied by Zuney Wagyu.

Recipe for Wagyu Ragu With Pap and Spicy Smoor

Wagyu Tomahawk Steak

The Tomahawk truly is the crown jewel when it comes to beef cuts. This beauty, named because of its similarity in looks to a tomahawk axe, is essentially a rib-eye steak presented on the bone. This not only makes for amazing presentation but it also locks in moisture and gives the meat added flavour. In particular, a Wagyu Tomahawk steak has exceptional marbling – the fat is high in Omega 3 and Omega 6 and is considered a healthy fat.

Along with its meltingly tender texture, it also has a superb buttery flavour that is hard to match.

This Tomahawk steak, provided by L.A. Farms on the Cape West Coast, boasts a superior marbling count of around 7 – 9 out of a possible 11. For the best eating experience, it is recommended that you prepare a Tomahawk steak by seasoning with salt and placing in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat (ensure that the pan is big enough to fit the steak and bone).

Turn the meat every minute to create an even sear for approximately a total of 4 minutes per side. If need be, you can place into the oven to raise the internal temperature if you have created the perfect sear and want to preserve that. The internal temperature of the meat should reach 50-52 ºC and will continue to rise as it rests, leaving you with a perfect medium-rare (55-60 ºC). Check with a meat thermometer to ensure that you get the right temperature. Slice, season and enjoy as is.

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