3 things that marbling can tell you about Wagyu beef

If you’re in the market for the best meat experience, then it’s no surprise you’re looking at Wagyu.  After Japan named Wagyu a national treasure and banned live Wagyu cattle export, nations around the world have had to implement smart breeding programs to produce quality Wagyu and Wagyu cross-breeds. But not all Wagyu cattle are created equal, and it’s the marbling in the meat that gives away a lot of secrets.

Marbling in beef is due to intramuscular fat (IMF). IMF is the white fat streaks mingling in the red meat of a raw Wagyu steak. Marbling is not the thick white band of fat surrounding your steak, which separates muscles inside the beast.

Marbling is a direct result of ‘breeding and feeding’ – the lineage of the animal, and the way it has been raised and fed. A higher percentage of Wagyu heritage gives a larger marbling content in your meat. This extra marbling changes the beef’s nutrient content. Nutritious beef is not only better for you, but it tastes noticeably better! When Wagyu are fed a high grain diet, the resulting marbling of the steaks means they are just as high in protein and fat as salmon.

There are three things marbling can tell you: the steak’s nutritional value, its flavour, and the likely amount of full-blood Wagyu in the beast.

1.    Health benefits of marbling

What can you learn about your steak’s nutritional value by simply looking at the marbling? Wagyu marbling is in a different league from normal steak fats, and here is why:

  • Wagyu marbling is full of essential fatty acids Omega 3, 6 and 9. Only a small proportion of the meat has saturated fats
  • Wagyu has up to 300% more mono-unsaturated fats versus mono-saturated fats
  • Wagyu can have as much as 50% oleic acid in the marbling
  • Unlike other beef, Wagyu does not add to cholesterol in the body. Instead, the fat of Wagyu can have a positive effect on heart health

2.    How marbling affects cooking and flavour

There is a reason Wagyu is so popular, and it owes it’s unique flavour to marbling. Unlike other beef fat, marbling isn’t chewy. Wagyu marbling melts while the meat is cooking, maintaining moisture from the inside out and creating a distinct and delicious flavour. Therefore better marbling results in more moisture and taste.

Wagyu marbling fat melts at just above room temperature. It is a testament to how soft the Wagyu fat truly is. Due to this trait, it is best to cook Wagyu over a medium heat. Cooking at a high temperature will melt the fat quickly and not allow it to permeate the meat. The melted fat in cooked Wagyu gives it a distinct buttery flavour and, when cooked correctly, ensures the meat is soft and tender all the way through.

3.    How genetics impact marbling

Wagyu beasts outside of Japan are normally a genetic mix of Wagyu and other prime breeds such as Angus. Unlike the US, Australia and Japan have Government regulated standards that ensure you know both the quality of the marbling and the true genetic history of the meat you purchase.

A higher concentration of full-blood Wagyu in the animal will contribute to more marbling in the beef and that distinct Wagyu flavour. The top of the range starts with full-blood Wagyu. Full-blooded Wagyu not only have no historic cross-breeding, but their genetic line must also originate from Japan, making them true Wagyu. This grade will have the most amount of marbling and will have the richest flavour. However, full-blood Wagyu are extremely rare meaning the meat will be expensive and challenging to find.

To ensure the future of Australian Wagyu export, Australian farmers carefully cross-breed with quality Angus cattle. Through cross-breeding we can achieve cattle that have anywhere from 50%-93% Wagyu decent or higher. Australian crossbreeding grades work from F1 to F4, similar to the Japanese grading system. When you purchase from King River, you can be confident of strict breeding processes to produce the best tasting beef.

With decades of experience in excellent breeding and raising healthy livestock, you can trust that King River Wagyu is nutritious, delicious and of the highest quality product.