Are you a meat lover looking to indulge in the ultimate luxury of Wagyu beef?
While it may seem like a rare and exclusive delicacy, there are actually several options for purchasing this premium meat at your local grocery store or online.
In this article, we’ll explore the various places where you can find Wagyu beef, from major supermarkets to specialty online retailers.
Whether you’re a seasoned Wagyu connoisseur or a curious foodie, read on to discover where you can get your hands on this highly sought-after meat.
What Grocery Stores Sell Wagyu Beef?
If you’re looking to purchase Wagyu beef at a physical grocery store, your options may be limited. While most major supermarkets in the US do sell some form of Wagyu beef product, not all of them carry the highly coveted cuts.
However, some supermarkets have started to offer Wagyu beef in their stores. Aldi, for example, is among the first major supermarkets to sell Wagyu rump steaks. Other supermarkets like Whole Foods, Meijer, and Trader Joe’s also offer a variety of Wagyu products in their stores.
If you can’t find Wagyu beef in the general meat aisle, try checking the frozen section or the designated butcher’s counter in your local supermarket. Keep in mind that prices may vary depending on the store and the cut of meat.
What Is Wagyu Beef?
Wagyu beef is a type of beef that comes from Japanese cattle, specifically the four breeds of Akage Washu, Kuroge Washu, Mukaku Washu, and Nihon Tankaku Washu. The name “Wagyu” literally means “Japanese cow,” and the breed was originally used as a draft animal in agriculture. However, the cattle were selectively bred for their physical endurance, which resulted in more intra-muscular fat cells or marbling. This marbling is what gives Wagyu beef its unique taste and tenderness, making it highly sought after by gourmet cooks, fine restaurants, and consumers.
Wagyu beef is carefully regulated and guarded to maintain its exclusivity and quality. The cows are fed a meticulous diet for up to two years to amass up to 50% of their weight in fat internally. This marbled fat melts into the muscle fibers within the steak cut when cooked, helping it retain moisture and remain juicy. The ratio of mono-unsaturated to saturated fat is also higher in Wagyu beef than other red meats, making it an appealing option for those with dietary constraints.
It’s important to note that not all beef labeled as “Wagyu” is genuine. The luxury version of Wagyu refers to a specific breed of Japanese cattle with special genetic qualities that enable them to produce highly marbled beef. While some American farms do crossbreed Wagyu with Angus cattle to replicate the flavor and texture of authentic Wagyu, the result is not exactly the same as true Wagyu beef.
Why Is Wagyu Beef So Expensive?
Wagyu beef is known for being one of the most expensive types of beef on the market, and there are several reasons for this. Firstly, the costs associated with raising Wagyu cows are much higher than those associated with raising other breeds of cattle. This is due to the specialized care and feeding required to produce the unique flavor profile and marbling that Wagyu is known for. Japanese Wagyu, in particular, is imported and rare compared to domestic breeds, which also contributes to its high price tag.
Moreover, the small size of Japanese feedlots means that each Wagyu cow can be cared for and monitored directly by farmers who have dedicated their lives to raising these unique cattle. Japanese Wagyu are also fed for over 600 days on a special high energy diet, which requires significantly more time and resources compared to domestic techniques. The prolonged feeding time allows cattle to fully mature and marble, resulting in a distinct taste and texture.
In addition, labor in Japan is expensive, which adds to the cost of producing Wagyu beef. Combine this with a decreasing number of younger individuals entering the industry, and it becomes difficult to find specialized farmers to care for Wagyu. Furthermore, Japan has a security and traceability system that is second to none. Each nose print is taken at birth and a unique 10 digit code is given to each cattle. This allows for full transparency and traceability from distributor to importer, exporter, processing plant, feedlot, breed, gender, date of birth, mother, father, and grandparents of each and every Wagyu cattle.
Finally, importing Japanese Wagyu to the United States incurs additional costs due to import quotas and taxes. Currently (May 2019), there is an import quota on Japanese beef in the United States which stands at 200,000 kgs and includes the entire United States. Once this quota has been met, all Japanese beef is subject to a 26.4% import tax which affects the overall price of authentic Wagyu as well.
Types Of Wagyu Beef
Wagyu beef is sourced from four different breeds of cattle: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Shorthorn, and Japanese Polled. Each breed has its own unique characteristics and is raised in specific regions of Japan.
Japanese Wagyu beef is the most well-known type of Wagyu beef and is sourced from specific breeds, with the most common being Japanese Black (Kuroge). These cattle are raised in excellent conditions and must meet specific standards, such as being fed for more than 600 days on a diet of barley, wheat bran, rice bran, corn, and other quality feed. This helps maintain the superior quality of the beef, including its exceptional intramuscular fat marbling. There are several types of genuine Japanese Wagyu beef that vary based on where and how the cattle are raised. For example, Kobe beef comes only from the Hyogo prefecture, while Olive Wagyu features a unique flavor that stems from a specialized cattle diet.
American Wagyu beef is another type of Wagyu that has gained popularity in recent years. American Wagyu cattle are Japanese cattle crossed with Black Angus cattle. They are fed for 400-plus days and their diet consists mostly of corn and wheat. The differences in bloodlines, diets, and location give American Wagyu beef its own distinctive features. It has less fat and less marbling compared to Japanese Wagyu, lending the beef a heartier flavor. It’s still quite juicy and tender, but it has more of that traditional beef taste that some prefer.
Australian Wagyu beef is yet another type of Wagyu that has gained popularity in recent years. By crossbreeding with Red or Black Angus, Australian Wagyu were developed, eventually becoming the largest Wagyu herd outside of Japan. Cattle are fed for 450-plus days and develop a flavor that is slightly less buttery in flavor compared to Japanese Wagyu. Instead, Australian Wagyu beef features a leaner, meatier taste.
Where To Find Wagyu Beef In Grocery Stores
If you’re specifically looking for Wagyu beef in grocery stores, your best bet is to check out specialty meat shops or high-end grocery stores. These stores often carry a wider variety of meat cuts and may have a dedicated section for Wagyu beef.
Another option is to check out local farmers’ markets or butcher shops. These places often source their meat from local farms and may have a better selection of Wagyu beef cuts. Plus, you’ll be supporting small businesses in your community!
However, if you’re unable to find Wagyu beef at your local grocery store or specialty shop, don’t worry. There are plenty of online retailers that offer high-quality Wagyu beef products. Amazon, for example, works directly with Whole Foods and offers next-day shipping for many of their Wagyu products.
Online Retailers For Wagyu Beef
If you’re looking for a wider selection of Wagyu beef cuts, online retailers may be your best bet. One of the most popular online retailers for Wagyu beef is Holy Grail Steak Co. They offer a wide selection of Japanese and American Wagyu steaks, including authentic Kobe beef. Holy Grail also offers packaged steak flights and subscription plans for added convenience.
Another online retailer to consider is DeBragga, which offers three different varieties of Wagyu beef – American, Australian, and Japanese. DeBragga dry ages select cuts of Wagyu and offers a selection of dry-aged Wagyu strip steaks and rib chops.
If you’re looking for more options, our expert butchers recommend checking out the following top ten places to get your fill of Wagyu beef online: Crowd Cow, Snake River Farms, D’Artagnan, Chicago Steak Company, Allen Brothers, Kansas City Steak Company, Lobel’s of New York, Greensbury, Farmison & Co., and Gourmet Food Store.
When purchasing Wagyu beef online, it’s important to read reviews and check the company’s reputation to ensure that you’re getting high-quality meat. Prices may vary depending on the cut and the retailer, so be sure to shop around and compare prices before making a purchase.
Tips For Cooking And Enjoying Wagyu Beef
Cooking Wagyu beef is an art form that requires some knowledge and skill to achieve the perfect texture, flavor, and juiciness. Here are some tips on how to cook and enjoy Wagyu beef:
1. Buy from a trusted, local source: When purchasing Wagyu beef, make sure to buy it from a reputable and reliable source. This ensures that you’re getting high-quality meat that has been raised and handled properly.
2. Thaw the meat properly: If your Wagyu beef is frozen, thaw it in the fridge for six hours per pound of meat. Once it’s thawed, let it rest for half an hour at room temperature before cooking.
3. Sear the meat: Searing the surfaces of roasts and thicker steaks (over 2.5 cm/1 inch in thick) will help them retain moisture during cooking and result in a nice browned color. Sear your Wagyu in a preheated pan for 1.5-2 minutes on each surface before moving to a moderate heat to finish cooking.
4. Don’t overcook it: Overcooking Wagyu beef can ruin its texture and taste. The best temperature to enjoy the luxurious texture and sweet, buttery flavor of Wagyu is medium-rare (130°F). Avoid cooking it well-done.
5. Let it rest: After cooking, let your Wagyu beef rest for at least five minutes (but up to 10 minutes) before enjoying. Resting allows the meat’s fibers to relax, widen, and reabsorb those delicious juices.
6. Experiment with different cooking methods: While using a well-seasoned cast iron skillet is a great way to cook Wagyu beef, don’t be afraid to explore other methods like grilling, sous vide, or braising.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your Wagyu beef is cooked to perfection and enjoyed to the fullest.