Oklahoma Is Just Now Discovering Wagyu Steak
Since there exists a hierarchy of steak snobs just as the craft beer scene has with all the hipsters or the wine clubs do with their winos. Before you start in with the "I've been eating wagyu steak for X-amount of years" shut up. Things come slow to Oklahoma and as wagyu steak emerges in this state, we'll all be at your egotistical steak level.
Oklahoma is as much a beef-producing state as it is an agriculture powerhouse in this nation. As such, ranchers and hands alike have traditionally scoffed at the idea of "Japanese beef" because obviously, real beef comes from 'Merica. That's the past and it all started changing about a decade ago.
My small group of SWOK friends are steak fanatics. Doesn't matter what the occasion is, if we're getting together, we're having steak. We don't even make sides, just steak. While we usually opt to get hand-cut steaks at the local United Supermarket, once in a while we'll order some on the web. It could be prime graded beef, elk steaks, moose steaks, the occasional quail for a little variety, but eventually, we came across something called wagyu.
Wagyu is the breed of cow that produces the highest-priced steaks in the world. You may have heard it called Kobe beef, Japanese beef, etc... it's all wagyu and they price it per ounce instead of per pound. We ordered a steak for each of us through the web at around $140 each delivered.
What Steak I Have To Cook Myself Is Worth $140?
The claim to fame is the fat. Everybody except my Texan mother knows that fat is flavor, so the better the marbling is on a steak, the better the steak is going to taste as long as you don't burn it with your "I'll have mine well-done please" shenanigans.
Wagyu is packed full of marbled fatty goodness.
Just look at all of that fat. She thicc. There's so much marbling there, that steak takes on a pink look. This is what Japanese wagyu steak looks like and the reason it's so expensive.
The only way to get that kind of intramuscular fat development is to feed that cow for a long time. In America, we feed cattle anywhere between 300 and 400 days before selling them off for slaughter. That's how we've always done it, it works on a yearly schedule, it makes running the ranch business easier logistically.
Japanese ranchers feed their wagyu upwards of 600 and sometimes over 700 days. They also feed quite a bit better in Japan too. It's not all about feeding cheap co-op cake and corn oils, the Japanese cows are fed a careful diet of various grains as designed by a bovine nutritional expert. So many people come together to raise each individual cow to a level of perfection, it's reflected in the price... but what if America tried to do wagyu the American way?
This is American wagyu - AKA - black wagyu, wangus, or angyu...
It's the hybrid that is created by breeding our heirloom black angus cows with Japanese full-blood wagyu cows... but instead of feeding them on some lot for two years, they make plenty of intramuscular wagyu fat and enough meat yield on a regular yearly schedule.
I've had both over the years and while the Japanese wagyu is steak-perfection, the American wagyu is a fraction of the price, $25-$35 per pound depending on the cut.
Before you open a new tab to start price-checking American wagyu steaks, you're going to find a lot of local Oklahoma options in that $50-$80 per pound price range. I've had these steaks, they're good, but there are better local options.
Yep. You and I are living in an era of time where wagyu steaks are available on store shelves in our local Walmart.
Before your steak-snob head explodes, you can find good steaks at Walmart if you're willing to pick through the piles. For years I enjoyed very well-marbled $3.88/lb chuck-eye's until the steak-hipsters garbled them up creating a local market that charges $10/lb for these poor-mans-ribeyes.
Ironically, the USDA Select grades of Walmart steaks are almost always better looking than the USDA Choice cuts. I can't figure out why that is either, but that's another topic for another day... the topic today is wagyu.
While it's not available at every Walmart, the Lawton Walmart's do offer their own Marketside Butcher Wagyu steaks for a decent price.
I think they average $26-$27/lb, but the final price is usually around $20 as they're not regularly offered in whole pounds, normally a few ounces shy in that 10-14oz size.
How do they stack up? Well, Walmart's wagyu isn't Japanese A5 wagyu... but it's also 85% cheaper.
The taste? It's on point. Buttery and silky even when you have to cook it well done for the token-Texan in the group.
While you may not want to even try a Walmart wagyu, it has been the perfect introduction for the masses to the glory of wagyu beef. The wagyu steaks are amazing by any standard, the $6/lb wagyu burgers are interesting the first time around, but the ground wagyu chili we experimented with just tasted like regular old chili. Delicious, yes, but not because of the wagyu.
If you love steak, you'll love wagyu. Everyone should try it sometime, even if you're a little grossed out by the fat content of it. Trust me, it renders out nicely at medium and it just adds to the unbelievable juiciness of each bite.
So how should you cook your wagyu? Well, that's up to you. Traditionally it's supposed to be cooked in a pan or on a flat griddle. That's how they do it in Japan, but that's also how they cook steak in New York... I've had it that way, it's not bad, but I think a lot of the flavor of a steak comes from all the carcinogens you'll get by cooking it over a flame on the grill.
I know, I know... That's not how you're supposed to cook wagyu, but I don't care... I know how I like my steak.
Sprinkle a little of that Montreal steak seasoning on all sides, stick it on a rack, place in the fridge for at least six hours, rest one hour in the microwave, sear on the hot side of the grill, finish low and slow on the cool side. Perfect steak... but there can't be any bad way to cook such a delicious piece of meat.