How To Cook Wagyu Beef: The Ultimate Guide
The Japanese cattle are bred to perfection to achieve the highest standard of meat possible. With bright red meat and a ton of beautiful white marbling, wagyu beef is unlike any other.
Wagyu beef tastes sublime: buttery, almost sweet, with a note of umami. The taste is caramel-like, and the beef is so tender from the rich snowflake-like marbling that it melts in your mouth. It is the ultimate cut of beef.
When you have such a gold-standard ingredient, you want to make sure you prepare it the right way to get the most out of it!
Here’s your guide to cooking Wagyu beef for the best culinary experience possible.
Is Wagyu Difficult To Cook?
There are some tricks to cooking this beef. And because you paid top dollar for this premium cut, you don’t want to mess it up. Although there's nothing in the next few sections you need to go to culinary school for, there are some things you’re going to want to change from how you cook a ribeye steak.
How Do I Prepare Wagyu Beef?
If you want to get an amazing result out of your wagyu beef, make sure you take the following steps. Cooking wagyu beef might require a bit more finesse, but it’s possible for you to do it right in your own kitchen.
Choose the Right Steak
First, choose the right steak. Of course, you have to choose the cut you like, but that’s a matter of preference. From ribeye and flanks to sirloins and filet mignon, you have plenty of options to choose from.
What you really need to know about is the grading system. The Japanese have a specific grading system when it comes to their prized Wagyu cattle. It consists of a letter from A to C and a number from one to five.
The letter indicates the ratio of usable meat to the total weight of the cow. If the edible meat is above 72% of the weight, it gets an A. Between 72% and 69% get a B, and below 69% get a C.
The number indicates the standard of the meat in four categories: fat marbling, meat color, fat color, and texture, with one being the lowest, and five being the highest. The biggest factor in this is the marbling, which is scored on a scale of zero to 12.
Marbling requires an eight or higher to receive an A5 rating.
So, if you’re shooting for the cream of the crop, wagyu beef, with incredible marbling, tender meat, and beautiful color, a rating of A5 is what you’re going to want to look for. And if you’re looking to ensure that your beef comes from fantastic cattle farms actually in Japan, look for Kobe beef.
Kobe beef is Japanese wagyu that was raised in the city of Kobe, Japan. It is some of the most highly sought-after beef in the world because of its characteristic marbling and flavor.
Keep Seasoning to a Minimum
You shouldn’t need to add much seasoning to the wagyu. This beef is packed with flavor as it is thanks to its high fat content. It’s best to keep it simple and enjoy the decadence of the meat on its own. That’s the real wagyu experience.
You can add a light coating of salt to enhance the flavors and help your meat cook evenly and finish well.
Grease the Pan
When greasing the pan, you should do one of two things.
You could cook it in a lighter oil like truffle or olive oil. This can enhance the flavor a little bit and shorten the cooking time, which is essential for wagyu.
However, the best method of greasing is to trim some fat off of your meat and render it in the pan to use for grease. This greases the pan and enhances the flavor of the beef.
For our Ramsey-esque readers out there: Be wary of using butter to cook wagyu. If you’re going to sear at a high temperature to get that nice crust, you could easily burn the butter and corrupt the flavor of the beef. Plus, you don’t need butter anyway! The wagyu has enough juices and tenderness on its own thanks to that beautiful iconic marbling.
Sear to a Crust on High Heat
It’s best to cook this delicious meat in a cast-iron skillet. A cast-iron pan can get up to high temperatures and deliver that signature crust we’re looking for. We recommend cooking your Japanese beef on medium-high heat or high heat.
For wagyu, you want really quick cooking times. If you cook the fat for too long, the meat will get chewy and lose the texture, making it lose one of its signature traits.
You want to sear it and cook for only a few minutes on each side, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on it. Some Japanese methods only sear the meat for one to two minutes, and with the final meat barely cooked to rare to ensure they don’t overcook it.
To get the best experience, cook your wagyu at most to medium-rare, if not rare.
Cooking a wagyu beef well done is a crime.
Is It Better To Grill or Pan Fry Wagyu Beef?
It’s probably best to pan fry your wagyu, but you could also cook it on a grill. One Japanese method cuts the beef into incredibly thin strips and sears them over an open flame for a very short time — just enough to sear the outside of the meat.
That said, you’ll probably have the most success cooking it in a cast-iron pan.
This way, you can cook the beef in its own rendered fat. This method can boost the flavors of the steak and help you keep it nice and juicy. It can also help you cook the beef at the hot temperatures necessary to cook it quickly and efficiently.
What Temperature Should Wagyu Be Cooked To?
Wagyu is a premium beef with the best fat marbling in the world. It creates tenderness and juiciness that is unrivaled in the world of meat.
You don't want to overcook this meat — pink is where you should be to retain wagyu’s prime qualities.
For an optimal wagyu experience, aim to cook your wagyu between 129°F (54°C) to 134°F (57°C).
How Well-Done Should My Beef Be?
This lower cooking temperature will keep your beef between rare and medium-rare. You might be touching on medium just a bit, but don’t go beyond that. Japanese A5 wagyu is meant to be enjoyed pink.
Even the more affordable cuts of wagyu like striploin are still full of fat and intense marbling, so don’t take the risk of cooking out all that rich fat and drying out your steak.
The short answer: your wagyu beef should not be well-done in any sense.
What Sides Should Wagyu Beef Be Served With?
Wagyu beef can be served with a number of delicious sides. The meat will be exploding with a rich, savory flavor, making your wagyu pretty flexible so you can really serve it with whatever you like.
What’s more classic than steak and potatoes? This combo makes for a hearty meal that will never fail to leave you absolutely satisfied.
Season your potatoes with garlic and herbs like thyme for those classic flavors that pair so well with steak. Pair with buttery mashed potatoes, golden-brown wedges, or roasted young potatoes – it’s a classic pairing you can’t go wrong with!
Fresh veggies are another great option. Since you’re eating a steak that’s rich and high in fat, you might prefer to have some lighter veggies to give that thick texture a nice contrast. You could go for a spinach salad with some light dressing or lightly sauteed broccolinis.
If you like your veggies a bit more savory, you could roast some squash and zucchini. There’s nothing like roasted vegetables to go with a perfectly crusted steak. The slight golden brown crisp and savory umami really shine with this.
Brussel sprouts cooked golden brown served with a garlic aioli pair nicely with a rich wagyu steak.
Sauté up some mushrooms in butter with some shallots and garlic. Salt your mixture to draw the moisture out of the mushrooms, leaving behind the rich umami flavor.
The umami of the mushrooms pairs so well with the rich marbling of the steak. Going this route is sure to deliver an explosion of umami your taste buds won’t forget.
Wagyu beef is nothing short of incredible, and it’s no wonder this Japanese breed of cattle has raised the bar and changed the beef industry. Although it can be tough to come by and may cost a pretty penny, wagyu is entirely worth trying at least once!
If you want to bring the wagyu experience to your home, you can find A5 cuts of wagyu at Umamicart, the online Asian grocery store that delivers to your front door. Enjoy! We know you will.