Is it true that purebred Wagyu beef doesn’t exist in the United States? The answer is no – thanks to a 22 year span when the export ban in Japan was lifted. Nowadays, it is a fact that both live Wagyu cows and their DNA are illegal to export from their native Japan. But from the year 1975 until 1997, enough cows were brought to the United States for there to be purebred Wagyu bloodlines right here in America. This Wagyu beef is hard to come by, but oh so worth it when you can find it.
Most Wagyu beef that you’ll find in America is referred to as American Wagyu. In fact, that’s exactly what the beef we raise on our ranch is – cows that are a cross between Angus and Wagyu. While this beef is incredibly delicious, it simply doesn’t have the same qualities as purebred Wagyu beef. We’ve started working with partner ranches that raise purebred Wagyu beef in order to provide this unique meat to our customers.
What’s so special about purebred Wagyu beef, anyway? It has to do with the unique biological characteristics of these cows and the way they’re raised. For starters, the word Wagyu simply means Japanese cow. Any cow raised or descending directly from Japanese cattle would technically be considered Wagyu. There are four distinct breeds of cattle that are native to Japan, and only one possesses the genetic predisposition to store fat in the muscle tissue. This trait is what gives the famed Wagyu beef it’s incredible marbling, tenderness, and flavor.
The flavor and texture of purebred Wagyu beef simply cannot be replicated. The unique fat marbling gives the beef a distinctive umami flavor and literally melts in your mouth. The fat in Wagyu beef is high in omega-3’s and 6’s – the healthy, good kind of fats. This fat has a lower melting point than other types which contributes to its melt-in-your-mouth consistency. In general, Wagyu beef has minimal impact in raising cholesterol levels. For health conscious consumers, Wagyu is a smart choice to satisfy those red meat cravings.
Farmers follow special ranching protocols and take extraordinary care to ensure the finest quality of purebred Wagyu beef. It is a common practice for cattle to get deep tissue massages, which helps to keep the muscle fibers loose and give each steak that perfect marbling. Producers go the extra mile for their Wagyu herd to make sure these pasture-raised cows grow up in a stress free environment. Most importantly, healthy and happy cows means a healthy and tasty meat – it’s the kind of farm to table experience everyone wants.
Wagyu beef is highly valued as a result of its strictly regulated breeding programs that originated in Japan. The Asian cattle were bred as working animals to plow fields. Although calm in nature, their source of power stems from a unique ability to store extra energy as a fine, evenly-distributed intramuscular fat. As previously mentioned, this unique quality makes Wagyu beef a luxury.
It is good to note that Wagyu is graded for it’s marbling and signifies the kind of quality meat you’re paying for. The Beef Marbling System (BMS) ranges from 1 – 12 (at 12 it’s not just food you’re eating, it’s a work of art!) For our purposes here, let’s do a quick overview: the highest quality of meat in the United States is a USDA Prime, which is graded as BMS 4 – BMS 5. Wagyu with a BMS score of 8+ earns the title of A5, the highest designation of beef. Whether you choose a Mishima, Gold or Silver cut of Wagyu beef, you’ll be in for a delicious experience.
At the Beck & Bulow butcher shop we recently rolled out our fresh meats program where you can find the coveted 8+ Wagyu beef. Most often these steaks are reserved for five star restaurants, so we are thrilled to share them with local Santa Fe. Our partner ranches in Texas and New Mexico provide us with one-hundred percent purebred Wagyu beef. From tenderloins to prime ribs, briskets to ground, we love that customers get to take home a piece of luxury.
In addition to our amazing Wagyu beef, you’ll find all different kinds of fresh cut bison and much more. We have a third-generation butcher in house and on hand for all your specialty requests. Come visit us in the shop! Whether you’re a local or on vacation in Santa Fe, we’d love to see you there. The retail location is centrally located on Cerrillos Road near Saint Michael’s drive – look for the dancing buffalo!