For all of you non-carnivores out there, please feel free to move on. The same goes for any members of PETA or other animal rights groups. However, for any of you who can afford a hamburger that costs $41.00 or pay anywhere between $100.00 and $300.00 a pound – please read on.
Where does it come from?
Well, for starters I guess you can say Japan. To be more specific, it comes from (duh!) Kobe, Japan
No, I mean where does it come from?
Oh, you mean the type of cattle? To earn the title of “Kobe beef” the meat must come from a type of cattle that goes by the name of Wagyu. It seems that over the years, many different breeds of cattle were imported to Japan. These included the Brown Swiss, Shorthorn, Devon, Simmental, Ayrshire, Korean,Holstein and Angus With a little tinkering here and there, the Japanese finally came up with a breed of their own (Etymology, Wa=Japan) and gyu = cattle).
Within this Wagyu breed, there are two strains. One is the “Red Wagyu” and the other is the “Black Wagyu.” It’s the black variety that is most often associated with Kobe beef.
What makes them so special?
For any of you beef connoisseurs out there, you know that it’s the marbling of the meat that makes the difference. (For those of us less familiar with what meat we eat, I highly recommend Meat Grading Guide written by Gone Jackal). Anyway, compared to any other domestic cuts from around the world, the marbling of the meat on Kobe beef is off the scale. The cattle used for Kobe beef produce a higher percentage of unsaturated fat than other breed in the world.
How does it get that way?
Besides any genetic factors already in play with the breed, Kobe beef is fed a special diet under confined conditions. Said feeding must take place for a certain amount time (before the cow is slaughtered) in Kobe. While that may seem cruel, they are also fed with copious amounts of beer and (as weird as this sounds) massaged regularly with sake.
If its so good, why don’t other countries do it?
First they had to get their hands on the cattle. In order to protect their beef market, the Japanese government banned all export of Waygu cattle up until 1976. Since then, limited exporting has been allowed.
So why is still so expensive?
In order for the beef to earn the distinguished title of “Kobe beef” it still must be fed for a period of time and slaughtered in Kobe. That means if you were to raise these types of cattle here in the States (or anywhere else for that matter), you would have to ship them back to Japan to be fed and slaughtered. You would then have to ship the resulting meat back to yourselves for distribution. That my friends, seems like an awful lot of trouble just to make burgers.
A final note, the home of the $41.00 dollar hamburger is at a place called the Old Homestead restaurant in, where else, New York City. In case you were wondering, it does come with french fries.