I Ordered Wagyu Beef Now What?
Wagyu beef has taken on a near mythical status in the meat industry and related hobbies. Strict guidelines governing the sourcing and care of Wagyu cattle has helped create a meat unlike any other: incredible delicate marbling, unparalleled tenderness, and deep rich flavors that can leave you in happy tears. It can be a little intimidating to receive such as prestigious meat. How do you keep it in tip-top shape? What's okay to do with it? What's not?
Here are some of the basics to help alleviate some of your stress.
Storing a Piece of Heaven
You can store your uncooked Wagyu meat in a freezer for up to 12 months and in a fridge for up to 5 days. If you are aging your Wagyu, the fridge storage time can be greatly increased, we'll tackle aging, in-depth, in a different article. For now, know that you wont be able to taste the dry-aged flavor until the meat has aged 10 or more days. At 30 - 40 days most people feel that the beef has achieved optimal dry-aged flavor. While longer aging is certainly safe, many people feel this leads to exceptionally strong flavors that can be off-putting.
Getting it Ready
The intense marbling and fat content of a Wagyu steak demands even temperatures when thawing and preparing to cook. Generally you can defrost meat in the refrigerator overnight and bring it to room temperature on the kitchen counter 30 minutes to an hour before cooking. However, depending on the thickness of the cut you may need to defrost the meat for up to 48 hours in the fridge.
One of our favorite cooking methods for Waygu. This once-exclusive method of cooking removes a lot of the drama and danger from cooking an expensive steak. The water bath cooking removes the guesswork from cooking a steak appropriately, giving you a perfectly cooked steak - without danger of burning - every time! It may cost a little more than the other methods, but the results are well worth the cost and effort.
Be sure to check out our How To article on Sous Vide!
Use caution when grilling Wagyu. Rendered beef fat can drop down into the grill causing fires. Part of the magic of Wagyu IS the incredible marbling, so be prepared for the flare ups that WILL occur. If you choose to grill, you can cut your meat into smaller pieces and prepare yourself and your cooking area for flare ups.
For a more in-depth look at grilling, check out our grilling article.
Cast-iron skillets hold heat well, ensuring even cooking. High heat searing is really all that is needed for thinly sliced Wagyu. Sear each side of the cut for two to three minutes, searing is complete when the meat does not stick to the pan. When both sides are brown, remove from the heat to avoid overcooking. Thicker cuts may need to finish in the oven.
For a more in-depth look at using cast iron, check out our Pan-Sear / Oven Finish Cooking Technique article!
Medium Internal Temperature
The amount of intramuscular fat in Wagyu beef means the meat will remain tender even when cooked to a medium doneness. However, do be careful cooking it any further than medium to medium-well as the higher temperatures can have a negative effect on the taste and texture of the beef. We prefer to prepare our Cross Creek Ranch Wagyu to medium-rare for optimal taste and texture.
Keep it Simple
Wagyu beef is rich and flavorful on its own, and usually doesn't require a lot of additional flavorings. Some of us here at Cross Creek Ranch prefer a light sprinkle of sea salt, while others really enjoy a hearty coat of sea salt, pepper, and Garlic powder. Keep your seasonings simple as you first delve into Wagyu, and do experiments with small pieces of meat, over time, to find your preferred seasonings!