MIYAZAKI-GYU: TWO-TIME CHAMPION of JAPAN’S WAGYU OLYMPICS
By: Naoto Yonezawa
Wagyu and Kobe beef are popular items on restaurant menus these days but do consumers know where these beef actually come from? And what exactly is Wagyu? According to Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), specific stipulations must be met before beef can earn the official “Wagyu” status:
1. Cattle must be certified as an authentic Wagyu breed such as Kuroge Washu (Japanese Black), Akage Washu (Japanese Brown), or other Wagyu breeds recognized by Japan’s Meat Fair Competition Code.
2. The cattle must have been born and raised in Japan.
3. Each stock of beef must be officially registered with genealogical lineage information via Japan’s cattle traceability system.
Restaurants handling Wagyu and Kobe beef have increased over the years, but in reality, most are likely to be serving American Wagyu, a hybrid of Kuroge Washu and Angus beef, grown outside of Japan. In other words, the US-grown Wagyu is completely different from Japan-grown Wagyu, thus by definition, would not be recognized as authentic “Wagyu” by Japan’s meat industry standards. While the quality of American Wagyu have improved over recent years, simply placing the two in the same “Wagyu” category would be a misnomer.
Japan-Grown Wagyu VS America-Grown Wagyu
So what is the difference between American Wagyu and Japanese Wagyu? For starters, they’re completely separate breeds, therefore the Sashi (marbling) and tenderness differ greatly. Japanese Wagyu industry strictly follows the grading standard matrix enforced by Japan Meat Grading Association (JMGA). This grading system incorporates “Meat Quality Grade” and “Yield Grade”.
Japanese Wagyu is known and valued for the high fat content and its intricate marbling which is the core secret to its naturally tender texture. Despite the high marbling, however, Japanese Wagyu contains high monounsaturated fat (the good fat) and is low in cholesterol compared to standard American-grown beef. In addition, Japanese Wagyu is rich in oleic acid, the “good fatty acids” found in olive oil, which renders a pleasantly-sweet, coconut flavor and aroma.
The melting point of typical American beef fat falls around 104F-122F degrees, whereas Japanese Wagyu is vastly lower at 59F-77F degrees, below a person’s body temperature. This answers the question on why Japanese Wagyu literally melts in your mouth, delivering a juicy and Umami-packed flavor.
MIYZAZKI-GYU: TWO TIME Wagyu Champion of Japan
In Japan, there are a number of Wagyu brands, most of them adopting their prefectural origin or region of their growth such as the well-known Kobe and Matsuzaka beef. Among them is the notable MIYAZAKI-GYU, which has gained recognition for winning the National Competitive Exhibition of Wagyu, also known as Wagyu Olympics. Held once every 5 years, MIYAZAKI-GYU has coveted the champion position twice in a row, and is recently being touted at top restaurants as it ascends into international fame.
Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu has a thriving cow-calf ranch industry where 46.6% are exported out to other prefectures for breeding. Mie Prefecture, known for its famous Matsuzaka-Gyu, is among the top buyers of Moto Ushi or breeding cattle born in Miyazaki Prefecture, from the Miyazaki cattle lineage. Since Moto Ushi greatly influences the quality of the Wagyu, Miyazaki cattle is prized for their track record of delivering on quality excellence and assurance.