The finer things in life take time to come to fruition. The best wines or liqueurs take time to mature. A beautiful painting or classic book isn’t produced in a day. Songs and music that last the test of time are produced with care, thought, and attention to detail. So it is with wagyu beef.
Careful, selective breeding, and plenty of quality care has gone into producing these fine cuts. The name “wagyu” simply means “Japanese cattle”, and it is thanks to the care and attention taken by early Japanese premium beef producers that we can enjoy New Zealand wagyu beef in all its glory today.
The most tender and flavoursome of beef cuts are the product of cattle whose genetics have been carefully and specifically selected over the years from their wagyu ancestors who were initially used purely as work animals. The fact that these animals were labour animals meant that they developed more intra-muscular fat cells.
This led to the distinctive high levels of “marbling” where the meat contains higher levels of monounsaturated fats (the good fats). The fat is evenly dispersed throughout the meat, which gives wagyu beef its special appearance.
Animals are fed slowly, with high quality grains, and live stress-free lives. Massages to keep the animals soothed and calm, and a diet which includes small amounts of beer, are also not unheard of in the lives of wagyu cattle!
Wagyu yields superior quality, tender meat, with softer fats that enhance the meat flavour.
Marbling refers to the little specks of fat dispersed in lean tissue. Part of grading the meat depends on the amount and colour of the specks. The quality of marbling determines how rich the taste of the beef will be. High levels of marbling result in a more rich, melt in the mouth experience for the consumer. The Waitaha Wagyu New Zealand wagyu beef comes from a group of Japanese breeds revered for their quality marbling ability. Wagyu steak is fatty or “marbled”. It is the marbling that gives the steak its tender, juicy flavour. Quality wagyu fat if held between the fingers at 36 degrees will melt, which incidentally is the same as the average human body temperature. This means it is easier to the human body to absorb the fat. Wagyu’s marbling characteristics, which gives the beef its ‘melt in the mouth’ moisture and tenderness are said to be obtained through both breeding and feeding techniques. Both genetics and the painstaking care taken with their feeding create the superior marbling you see in New Zealand Wagyu beef meat.
Not only is wagyu the worlds best tasting tender beef, the nutritional value of New Zealand wagyu beef is also exceptionally high. Extremely juicy, rich in texture with a pleasant and plentiful flavour, wagyu meat hides is nutritional value well. The high marbling means softer fats and higher ratio of unsaturated fats.
Although highly marbled, the fat in a New Zealand wagyu steak is lower in saturated fat (the bad fat) and higher in unsaturated fat (the good fat). The genetics of the wagyu cattle are responsible for its beef to be much richer in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
New Zealand wagyu beef also contains one third more conjugated linoleum acid (CLA) than other beef. CLA is an anti-inflammatory agent and that contains potent anti-carcinogenic properties.
Canterbury offers some of the freshest water sources in the country. Only drinking the finest water has a huge positive impact on the healthiness and happiness of our wagyu cattle. This shows itself in the pureness and high quality of our meat.
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