Wagyu: highly sought-after beef from select regions of Japan, featuring complex threads of fat layered within the muscle tissue of your favorite cuts.
Just one look at Wagyu, and you know it’s special – just wait until you taste it! “Melt-in-your-mouth” is an understatement, and unique, rich flavors shine through as well. No wonder this beef has been compared to caviar for its luxurious texture and high price tag.
But before you carve a portion of Wagyu for your plate, you’ve got to first cook it to perfection. If you’re the one tasked with cooking Wagyu beef, the pressure is on.
We’ve got your back with a complete guide on cooking Wagyu correctly, so let’s begin.
Select the Best Wagyu Beef
Your Wagyu journey begins with choosing the best beef available. Here’s your three-step plan to secure top-quality Wagyu for your at-home dining experience.
Find a Vendor
The internet is a two-edged sword when searching for Wagyu. On the one hand, you have trusted vendors offering authentic products for reasonable prices. Alternatively, you may find less-than-reputable sellers with Wagyu that don’t make the grade.
Be sure to do your research, read reviews, and use your intuition when buying luxury foods online. Look for wagyu graded A9 or higher (A12 being the best possible grade).
Pick Your Steak
You may not find common cuts of Wagyu like skirt or hanger, but you can count on steakhouse classics like ribeyes, top sirloin, and strip steak when shopping around.
If it’s your first time cooking Wagyu, we suggest buying a symmetrical, balanced cut like a ribeye or strip to minimize your margin for error.
The more complicated the cut, the harder it is to get right.
Storage and Protection
When your Wagyu arrives at your door, you’ve got to store it properly and do so immediately. These steaks are so delicate and very vulnerable to small temperature changes; there’s no time to waste.
Hopefully, your Wagyu should be vacuum-sealed and kept cold in the packaging. Place your steaks on a plate or in a container for freezer storage to prevent direct frozen contact.
If not, do your best to wrap the beef tightly in multiple layers of paper and plastic, then store it in the freezer ASAP. Freezer burn is caused by air exposure, so work quickly.
The quality of Wagyu beef should not diminish if it’s frozen correctly, but ideally, you should be ready to thaw and cook your steak within a few days after receiving the shipment.
Prepare To Cook Wagyu Beef
The process of cooking Wagyu beef starts long before the meat hits the hot pan or grill.
Here are the steps you need to take leading up to the main event:
Thaw To Room Temp
Avoid the microwave at all costs when thawing Wagyu beef.
Bring the meat up to room temperature in the most natural way possible by simply leaving it on the counter to thaw or running it under cold water in the sink for ten minutes at a time.
It’s wise to keep Wagyu wrapped up when defrosting, then remove it from all plastic to rest flat on a cutting board for another few minutes.
Let some air flow around the steak to stabilize the temperature. Then, pat down any excess moisture with a dry paper towel.
Once your Wagyu is room-temp and ready, it’s time to season, but do so with caution.
The last thing you want to do with your beautiful Wagyu beef is seasoned it to oblivion.
Keep all those elaborate spice mixes in the cabinet and save them for when you grill St. Louis-style ribs or braise a huge pork shoulder in the slow cooker.
Instead, sprinkle a small amount of salt on the top and bottom of the steak and pat lightly along the surface without rubbing in the crystals.
Ready the Cooking Surface
As with any cut of beef in any price range, you want that cooking surface hot and ready for the first contact. If you don’t hear the signature sizzle, you’ve jumped the gun.
Depending on the cooking technique you choose, you also might need a pad of butter or natural oil for extra fat. As you know, Wagyu has no shortage of fat within each steak, but a small dash of oil can help get things moving.
If your Wagyu has some excess fat around the edges, you can trim it off and melt it down as your cooking fat – that’s how the pros do it in Japan. Delicious foods can absolutely be healthy.
Cook Wagyu Beef Correctly
The moment has come! Let’s cook Wagyu beef the right way with the tools you have.
Stove Top Skillet
Your typical cut of Wagyu beef should not need to ever see the inside of an oven, especially if you like your steak on the rare side.
A strip, ribeye, or circular filet should do just fine in a hot skillet. Just pay close attention to the color and temperature of the steak.
You’re aiming for a nice, even sear across each surface of your steak, and a light golden-brown crust should indicate it’s time to take it off the heat.
Remember to let your steak rest before carving it up and diving in.
Charcoal or Gas Grill
Grilling a Wagyu steak requires advanced technique and confidence since the heat is high and less forgiving. Make sure to preheat your grill before placing the Wagyu steak on it; this will help you keep track of the cooking time to ensure the perfect sizzle.
It’s important to pat your Wagyu with a paper towel before you cook it, or it will take longer to cook and not fulfill its potential. After gently blotting it, then you can season it to your preferences.
Here’s where the instructions split. Depending on the thickness of your Wagyu, the cooking time will vary. For example, a cut that is ½ inch thick will take much less time to cook than a thicker piece. Don’t forget that Wagyu takes a shorter time to cook than Angus beef due to its fat content. The fat content cooks the Wagyu internally in a way that Angus does not.
When deciding on a cook time, ask your butcher or meat provider for their recommendation. Every cut will be different. Just make sure to rotate the steak 90 degrees to achieve those signature cross-stitch grill marks.
Griddle or Plancha
This is how you’ve seen Wagyu cooked in video tutorials and footage of high-end kitchens.
The griddle offers a perfect, even surface for cooking smaller and more delicate cuts of Wagyu beef. Consider investing in one for your stove or buying a standalone unit if you plan to cook more Wagyu moving forward.
This approach is similar to pan-searing, and minimal action is needed on your part. Just let the beef cook slowly on either side for about three minutes each, letting the griddle do all the work.
Don’t forget the carry-over cooking effect and remove the steak from the surface before it gets too hot.
Using an oven to Wagyu isn’t really the preferred method. In fact, usually, no one cooks wagyu in an oven unless the cut is extremely thick. If you have a thick and larger cut of Wagyu like a roast or big bone-in filet, consider firing up your oven for a slow and even cook.
Start by pan-searing your steak evenly on every side, and fire up your oven to 350 degrees in the meantime. After three minutes of searing on larger surfaces, the steak can go into the oven for finishing.
Keep a thermometer nearby to closely monitor the internal temperature. We suggest not going above 145 degrees Fahrenheit, considered medium doneness.
Wagyu Beef, Cooked to Perfection
No need to break a sweat when cooking authentic Wagyu beef. You’ll find that less is more when it comes to seasoning, searing, grilling, or any technique you apply.
As all great chefs know, quality ingredients matter most when constructing a gourmet dish. Like caviar and other luxury foods, the prestige of the product speaks for itself.
No matter how you choose to cook your Wagyu beef, follow these steps to create a perfect balance of natural flavor, texture, and aesthetic appearance.