When we hear the term “Kobe beef,” most of us know that it’s an expensive Asian beef, but a little more than that. The Japanese marketed this meat as a luxury item, like French champagne. There is a ton of history and details as to why this meat has become so expensive.
Why is it so expensive?
Originally, in the 2nd century Japan, Japan were workhorses for growing rice. These cows lived in Japan’s Hyogo Mountains and are isolated from every other breed of cattle to this day. It is believed that their particular daily routine produces the well-known delicious, juicy and tender meat. There is a lot to be said about how they raise the cows as this creates such a unique texture. If you take a bite, you know it’s Kobe beef.
What’s the story behind Kobe beef?
There are many stories behind how the Tajima gyu cattle became such soft and juicy meat. Every story has become its own story. There is some truth to it, however.
The first is that Tajima gyu cattle play classical music while they are being fed. The music is used to relax them and increase their appetite.
The second is that the cows are massaged with sake. These cows do not have the luxury of large fields, so the massage reduces stress. Massages also reduce the stiffness you may feel if you haven’t moved enough. The sake supposedly softens their skin and makes their fur glow. The Japanese say that these rituals are crucial to making a high quality product.
The third is that the cows get beer in the summer. When the hot sun is shining, the cows eat less, so the beer stimulates their appetite. All of these steps help keep the meat one step ahead of other types of beef.
What is the difference between Wagyu and Kobe Beef?
Wagyu and Kobe are both on the higher beef prices. While both are known for quality and juiciness, they are not created equal. Wagyu means “Japanese cattle”. However, people believe that it is some kind of breed. Japanese black, Japanese poll, Japanese short horn, and Japanese brown make up the four breeds of cows. Of Japanese black, the Tajima, Tottori, and Okayama are types of cows.
Not every Tajima cow is a Kobe. For a cow to be Kobe, it must have 100% Tajima heritage. Even after that, the meat must be of excellent quality to be Kobe beef. The cow just has to be born and raised in Hyogo Prefecture. Otherwise, it’s Wagyu beef. Kobe beef makes up such a small percentage of Japanese cattle, which explains the extortionate cost.
How is it graded?
Classifying Wagyu beef is easy only if you are a specialist. You use the yield and quality class to classify the meat. Yield grade is an approximate percentage of how much meat from the lap, feed, loin, and rib can be sold. The grades are A-C, with A being the best.
The quality level is much more detailed. It shows the color, marbling, texture and firmness of the meat. For the cow to be a Kobe cow, the meat marbling is rated from 1 to 12 and must be at least 6 to pass.
The next time you want to eat a Kobe steak, you should know how rare this piece of meat is. Visit eva-marieberry.com for more information