Kobe Beef
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The U.S. has no rules or laws on what can, or cannot be, called Kobe Beef, so if you are considering purchasing some of the fine product that can cost from $300/LB - $800/LB you may want to arm yourself with information to make sure you get what you are paying for. The situation is similar to many others with regards to Protected Geographical Indication and authentic Kobe Beef is only sold in limited quantities, which keeps the prices high. We have heard stories of Japanese purveyors offering authentic Kobe Beef for sale to a restaurant at the purveyor’s market price (take it or leave it). The restaurants say “yes” because they know the purveyor will never offer them any again. The supply of authentic Kobe Beef is so short the purveyors can get away with it in Japan.

Production

Most product sold in the U.S. as Kobe Beef, is actually domestic U.S. Wagyu, and not either imported Kobe Wagyu or even domestic Wagyu raised and finished in the Japanese Kobe style.

Purchasing

To officially be Japanese Kobe Beef, the animal should have been a Tattori Black Wagyu, raised in the Japanese Kobe fashion with Beer, Sake and Massages), castrated and later slaughtered (at SandaNishinomiya, Kobe, Kakogawa, or Himeji) in the prefecture of Hyogo. The Marbling of the meat should be at a minimum a 6 or higher on the Japanese meat grading scale (the best U.S. Prime Steak would be about a 6 on the Japanese scale) and the actual grade of the Kobe beef will be determined by the amount of fat in the rib-eye cut. Good Japanese Kobe Beef will have fat marbling of 20% to 25%. The best quality Kobe Beef (Japanese Grade 12) is not exported.

The product quality domestically in the U.S. ranges from Wagyu beef raised according to traditional American ranching methods to Wagyu raised and finished in the Japanese style to some American Wagyu cattle that are even shipped to Kobe, Japan when they are ready for slaughter to be finished and processed. It will pay, especially with the high prices for even domestic Wagyu, to educate yourself and know your provider.

It is interesting to note that Kobe Beef isn't the only type of special beef in Japan. Some of the other well known types (in Japan) are MishimaMatsuzaka, and Omi. All use Wagyu cattle, but with different feeds and finishing techniques, all produce different results with some claiming even superior marbling than Kobe Beef.

If you are considering purchasing Wagyu Beef products, Morgan Ranch, which has a Wagyu Herd, raised according to the traditional American method, has some Good Tips for Handling and Preparing your Wagyu Purchase.

Culinary Uses

The flavor of Kobe Beef is very mild and buttery, while the texture is very soft and tender. It almost melts in your mouth. It is easy to overcook Kobe Beef. It should always be served raw, Rare, or Medium Rare. Anything past that and it starts to turn tough, rubbery, and you lose the buttery taste.

Another particular characteristic of Kobe beef is the temperature at which the fat melts. Kobe beef fat melts at much lower temperatures 77° F (25°C), about ⅓ less than the melting point of regular beef, which is why it feels like it melts in your mouth and why it has to be watched closely when cooked. The Japanese predominantly eat Kobe Beef, either seared outside and raw inside or cold, raw, dipped in a scallion, ginger, soy sauce, though it can also be found used for teppanyaki, sashimi, shabu shabu, sukiyaki, and steak.

Portion Size

Allow 4-6 oz of Kobe Beef per person.

Substitutes

Wagyu Beef, Beef Tenderloin

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

No

Low Calorie

No