When it comes to beef, marbling is a big deal. If you love your meat, then you’ve probably heard a lot about it. But what exactly is marbling and why does it matter?
Here is your guide to everything you need to know about marbling, and why Japanese Wagyu beef has such high levels of it.
The science of marbling
As a meat lover, you’ve probably noticed white streaks interlaced throughout your beef.
These flecks are what’s called ‘marbling’, or technically known as ‘Intramuscular Fat’ or ‘Sashi’ in Japan.
Strictly referring to the fine streaks of fat within the meat itself, marbling impacts flavour, texture, tenderness and quality. This means that the more marbled the cut of meat is, the better that cut is considered.
Japanese Wagyu is famous for its high level of marbling. This allows its rich flavours to permeate the beef and give it its melt-in-your-mouth texture.
According to Kimio Osawa, Founder of Osawa Enterprises, marbling is one of the reasons why Japanese Wagyu is so highly prized.
“Japanese Wagyu beef’s high level of marbling gives it a much finer texture and better flavour than other red meats,” Kimio says.
Whilst marbling is fat, it’s full of healthy monosaturated fats. This means that Japanese Wagyu is higher in healthy fatty acids compared to many other beef varieties.
How is marbling evaluated?
The percentage of marbling is a top consideration in all beef grading systems around the world.
Japanese Wagyu is graded according to the Japanese Grading System. This system considers yield from A to C and beef quality from 5 to 1.
Whilst many factors contribute to beef grading, marbling is one of the most critical.
You should look for marbling that is bright white and evenly distributed throughout the cut.
Kimio says that Japanese Wagyu beef’s marbling is bright, delicate and lacy, giving the beef its signature buttery flavour with every bite.
“Japanese Wagyu’s high marbling percentage means it is a higher quality of beef, and so it is more expensive,” he says.
Only 100% fullblood Japanese Wagyu can receive an A score, with A5 considered the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of beef and also the most marbled.
Why is Japanese Wagyu beef so highly marbled?
Authentic Japanese Wagyu’s high marbling content contributes to its buttery texture and intense flavours.
According to Kimio, genetics, feeding and raising all play a part in making this beef so highly marbled.
“Japanese Wagyu cattle’s genetics make them predisposed to marbling, so they produce higher levels compared to other beef varieties,” Kimio says.
Japanese farmer’s traditional feeding and raising techniques also help cultivate Japanese Wagyu’s prized levels of marbling.
It goes without saying that if you want to experience highly marbled meat, try some authentic Japanese Wagyu beef – and we hope enjoy it.