Slices of wagyu beef on black counter

What is wagyu beef?

Everything you need to know about wagyu beef and why it's so expensive. See how to cook this pricey cut, its health benefits and where to find it in the UK.

Wagyu is the legendary super-marbled, super-expensive beef from Japan that’s now becoming readily available in the UK. We break down everything you need to know about this luxurious cut and if it’s truly worth the money. 

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Learn more about the health benefits of wagyu beef, where it comes from and how to prepare it. 
 

1) Wagyu (‘wagyou’) is a breed of cattle native to Japan.

The word literally means Japanese beef – ‘wa’ means Japanese and ‘gyu’ means beef.
 

2) The beef is renowned for being highly marbled.

Which is what gives wagyu its unique tender and buttery flavour.
 

3) Kobe beef is wagyu beef from the Tajima or Tajiri bloodlines.

Like champagne in France, wagyu beef is only called Kobe when it has been born, raised and slaughtered in that particular region.
 

4) The cattle are fed for 600 days after weaning.

That’s more than double the time for other breeds.
 

5) The beef doesn’t need to be hung.

Highland wagyu is slaughtered, then packaged days later and sent directly to chefs or consumers.

Black cow standing in pen

6) Marbling is a slower process for wagyu.

That’s unlike native breeds.
 

7) It contains high levels of omega fatty acids.

The marbling is rich in omega-3 and omega-6, improving the ratio of monounsaturated fats compared with regular beef.
 

8) Wagyu is the world’s most expensive beef because of the way it is reared.

Prime cuts cost up to £150 a kilo, and even secondary cuts, such as bavette (skirt) or flank could set you back upwards of £25 for a single 300g steak. At the Park Tower, Knightsbridge, which has a dedicated wagyu beef menu, prices range from £28 for wagyu roast beef salad to £170 for a 200g wagyu beef fillet.
 

9) The cattle need a stress-free environment.

That’s so they burn less fat and achieve the correct marbling.
 

10) Cooking wagyu prime cuts couldn’t be easier.

Sprinkle sea salt on the steak an hour before cooking. Heat a frying pan to searing hot. Brush a little oil onto the steak, then sear for 2 mins each side. The internal fat melts away leaving you with the juiciest steak ever.

Enjoyed this guide to wagyu beef? See more beef guides…

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How to buy beef
How to cook topside of beef
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How to cook a beef joint so it falls apart

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