Kobe beef, as your butcher will tell you, may just be the finest beef in the world. While it is a more expensive cut of beef, chefs and butchers alike tend to be unanimous that the Kobe, Japan beef has great marbling, tenderness and a flavor that is hard to match.
- Kobe beef comes from Kobe, Japan and the surrounding areas and is the product of Wagyu beef cattle. The Wagyu were originally brought to the isolation of Kobe to work the fields and were developed from a strain of European cow and Japan’s wild cattle.
- Over time, the Wagyu were raised strictly for food and were not permitted to exercise, or even to move around, much. Because of their sedentary lifestyle, the cattle developed exquisite levels of marbling. There is almost no open space in Japan in general so pastureland is small and scarce. The ranchers would routinely massage the cattle and even going so far as rubbing in the Japanese rice wine, sake, into their muscles and skin.
- The reason Kobe beef tends to be expensive is that the slaughtering and butchering must be done in Kobe. While Japanese Wagyu ranchers have allowed some foreign ranchers to raise their Wagyu, all of the animals must eventually be shipped back to Kobe to be processed and shipped out to the world.
- Many butchers and other experts feel that, when properly prepared, Kobe can have a consistency and flavor much akin to the filet mignon. Preparation, it seems, is the key to a Kobe beef experience.
- It is often prepared at high heat with searing and is a major ingredient in stir fry dishes at many restaurants. For the best experience and flavor, it is not recommended that Kobe beef be cooked beyond medium rare. Most preparation is done in a cast iron skillet and is seared with the inside of the cut being just warm.
- Your butcher knows that Kobe beef is ranked at least two grades above USDA Prime. While it can be difficult to get, Kobe beef can still offer a great dining experience for those who appreciate a great cut of beef.