What Is American Style Kobe Ground Beef

The History of Japanese Kobe

Prior to 1868, it was forbidden for people in Japan to consume any meat that came from animals with four legs. The Buddhist faith forbade the killing and eating of virtually any animal, but especially of four-footed mammals, and Japan endured severe periods of widespread starvation during the Edo Period (1603 to 1867). During that period, Japan’s diet was greatly influenced by fishing and the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and draft animals—cattle used to plow and replenish the soil—were protected.

The 122nd Emperor of Japan, Prince Mutsuhito, was committed to moving the nation quickly away from protectionist governmental and cultural constraints when he took office in 1868 and launched the Meiji Restoration. Emperor Mutsuhito strongly urged the nation to embrace capitalism and Western-style cultural norms, as well as to dismantle social barriers.

Part of the purpose was to undermine the Buddhists’ religious authority in the nation—they were puritans who exercised considerable political and social influence. Removing the meat consumption ban was a significant step toward separating the state from the authority of the Buddhist religion. And in order to help alter the social mores that had been in place for hundreds of years, Emperor Mutsuhito started his national revolution by hosting feasts and eating beef in front of the Japanese nobility.

For the first 100 years after Emperor Mutsuhito legalized meat consumption, there was very little demand for it. In the early days, when people talked about meat (niku in Japanese), they usually meant pork because it was easily obtainable and reasonably priced for families. But the cultivation of beef quickly gained traction in places like Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe (the Kinki Region), and those areas are now recognized for having the highest demand for beef.

Only 11 pounds of beef were consumed annually by the average Japanese consumer by 1980. In contrast, over ten times as much beef was consumed annually—more than 115 pounds per person—in nations like the United States. Since the Japanese were also slow to adopt the use of knives and forks, the necessity of eating with hashi, or what we in the west call chopsticks, greatly influenced the type of beef that consumers bought. In Japan, consuming beef without a fork and knife required the meat to be tenderized and cut into thin strips for the traditional way of eating.

With the introduction of mechanical tractors and other farming equipment in 1955, rice cultivation in Japan underwent a significant industrial revolution, eliminating the need for farming equipment powered by cattle. Japan’s post-Korean War economic boom raised people’s incomes, and as demand for beef grew, farmers started raising cattle.

It is thought that there existed a niche black market for Matsuzaka or Omi beef even during the prohibition on the sale of beef. There were rumors that wealthy families, members of the royal family, daimyo, and shogun warriors had access to a speciality beef from Hihone (Shiga Prefecture), which is the historical birthplace and originating region of Omi (Kobe) beef.

The Japanese Black cow is the source of nearly 90% of Kobe beef. The cattle were crossed with breeds from North America, such as the Holstein, Simmental Ayrshire Devon, Devon Brown Swiss Shorthorn, and Brown Swiss Shorthorn.

The Japanese Black cattle have very narrow pin bones and are not very valuable for milking due to their biological makeup. When Japanese herds were crossed with American cattle that had larger bones, calving issues arose, necessitating close domestic breeding. However, the Tajima breed of Japanese Black cattle is the most sought-after, and their beef is known throughout the world for having a high level of fat marbling. This gave the beef the extraordinary tenderness that was necessary for customers who wanted to eat it without using a fork or knife (again, out of cultural necessity).

It was forbidden to export any live Kobe or Japanese Wagyu cattle for 200 years. The Tottori Black Wagyu cows and the Kumamoto Red Wagyu bulls, two of which were Wagyu cattle, were shipped to the US in 1976.

Due to the high value of cattle and the scarcity of grazing land, modern cattle production in Japan takes place in Australia and California, where beef is fattened in accordance with tight regulations before being exported back to Japan. The live cattle are brought back to Kobe, Japan, for a specialized butchering procedure.

Source Web 2018: Beef in Japan by Prof. John W. Longworth, University of Queensland Press, 1983.

The most well-known red meat in the world, kobe beef is also mysterious, incredibly rare, and misunderstood. Kobe is a real place, and its beef is similar to Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon to all American cabernet—it is one regional style of Japanese Wagyu (the cattle breed). Good news for foodies: Japanese Wagyu, especially Kobe, is now more widely available in this nation than it has ever been. The bad news is that it is still hard to find; of the numerous restaurants that claim to serve it, very few actually do. Rather, many serve what’s referred to as “wangus” in the trade, which is a Kobe-style hybrid of domestically raised Wagyu breeds and common Angus. Some don’t even bother using any Wagyu breed at all.

Wagyu elsewhere is often crossbred to mirror local tastes. Every generation of crossbreds loses half of the unique fat and marbling traits of authentic Wagyu. Major exporter and producer Australia usually crosses Wagyu with conventional dairy breeds like Holstein. In the U. S. The most common cross between Wagyu and Angus, according to USDA regulations, calls for just 46 9% Wagyu genetics for beef sold at retail. Restaurants are free to refer to any beef as Wagyu and frequently do so. Tips.

Kobe is the most acclaimed of several prominent regional Wagyu, though as with the Napa cabernet comparison, the best from other regions are just as delicious (top regional Wagyu include Matsuzaka, Omi, Sendai, Mishima, Hokkaido, and Miyazaki). Stories of cattle reared on classical music, beer, and massages, while allowed, are largely myths. But, the Hyogo government keeps the 12 most ideal bulls in a special facility, using their semen to inseminate all cows. Every ounce of Kobe beef eaten worldwide was fathered by one of these dozen perfect marbling specimens. However, not much is eaten worldwide. After slaughter and grading, only half the Tajima cattle qualify as Kobe, 3-4,000 head per year, less than one midsize U.S. cattle ranch. Today, enough reaches the U.S. to satisfy the average beef consumption of just 77 Americans. It’s so scarce that Kobe’s marketing board licenses individual restaurants, and real Kobe beef is available at just eight restaurants in the entire country (see the list), while none, ever, is sold at retail.

Japan has some of the strictest meat grading regulations in the world; each carcass is rated according to four criteria, the most significant of which is the “Beef Marbling Standard,” which ranges from 1 to 12. USDA Prime, our highest marbling grade, equates to about 4. Kobe typically rates 10 or higher, while the majority of domestic Wagyu or hybrids would score 6–9. The highest possible score is A5, but A4 is still excellent. The four factors are combined to create a final score that ranges from 1 to 5 and is assigned a letter based on yield.

Wagyu is a murkier issue. Look for “from Japan” and the name of a specific location, like Miyazaki, one of the more accessible regional Wagyu options. Businesses that take the time to source the real thing nearly always highlight it. Legally, only boneless cuts of Japanese beef may be imported; steer clear of porterhouse or rib steak that purports to be imported Wagyu. The actual product is always boneless and is typically a filet, ribeye, or strip. While price does not always indicate quality, cheap is always a warning sign. Japanese Wagyu is always pricey; a small serving for less than $60–$80 is probably phony. It usually starts at $20 per ounce and can easily cost twice that. If you’re still unsure, find out where the restaurant got it and what region it’s from—there aren’t many suppliers. Since real Wagyu requires a lot of work to obtain, it’s not a good sign if the waiter or chef hesitates or is unsure. Lastly, a lot of experts advise requesting official documentation. However, even though all Japanese beef is sold with impressive certificates that feature seals and nose prints, these can be old, phony, and nearly impossible to interpret.

DeBragga’s American Wagyu Kobe Style beef is 100% American raised. The animals are never given antibiotics nor added growth hormones.

We combine our ground beef and Wagyu burger with a delicious blend of shoulder chucks, short ribs, and briskets. This special blend produces a rich, mouthwatering combination with a robust beef flavor that melts in your tongue.