It was Bryan's birthday today (Monday). As part of a weekend birthday celebration, we bought Wagyu beef at a local market called Savenor's and opened up a nice bottle of wine (2003 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve) for dinner on Sunday evening.
Wagyu beef prices range from $40 a pound to hundreds of dollars a pound. The pieces we got were relatively reasonable, at $40 a pound. You can see that these steaks have less marbling than certain pictures I've seen online, which may account for the lower price.
Some interesting facts about Wagyu beef. Wagyu beef comes from a breed of cows that originated from Japan. Called Kobe beef in Japan, the breed was exported to the US in 1992 under a trade agreement between the US and Japan. All "Kobe" beef outside of Japan is called Wagyu beef.
Wagyu beef is heavily marbled with fat that is very evenly distributed throughout the meat. Although Wagyu cows are already genetically predisposed towards marbled muscle, Wagyu breeders promote additional marbling by feeding the cows a diet of grains, beer, and sake and regularly massaging the cows.
Surprisingly, Wagyu beef is actually relatively healthy because its fat has an unusually high amount of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. In fact, Wagyu beef has a 2:1 ratio of monounsaturated fat to saturated fat. Indeed, even the saturated fat in Wagyu beef is better. 40% of the saturated fat in Wagyu beef is stearic acid, a fatty acid known to have little impact on blood cholesterol levels. Finally, Wagyu beef has higher amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid than normal beef.
The best way to enjoy a Wagyu steak is to simply grill the steak, preferably rare or medium rare. There is no need for marinades, steak sauces, etc. because the meat itself is so flavorful.
Ideally, the steak is at room temperature before cooking, although it can also be grilled straight from the refrigerator.
I typically rub olive oil on both sides of the steaks and season with freshly ground black pepper, white pepper, and a little bit of salt.
I heat my cast-iron pan until it is quite hot, and then I sear the steak for about 3-4 minutes on one side, and about 2-3 minutes on the other side. This particular piece of steak was about 1 inch thick and was starting at room temperature. Add a minute or so if you are cooking a steak straight out of the refrigerator. Additionally, if your steak is thinner, cut down the time significantly. Ideally, I would recommend trying to get a steak that is at least 1 inch thick.
As discussed earlier, we enjoyed this with 2003 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Since the wine is still a bit young, we found that decanting it for about 2 hours was perfect. I also steamed some snap peas in the microwave (3 minutes) and tossed it with some oyster sauce, soy sauce, and salt. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product.
All in all, an excellent meal.
Happy Birthday Bryan!
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