A couple of weekends ago, I had the luxury of being surprised with a dinner at Sage, at the Gardens Residences.

Now, I walked away from that memorable meal immensely satisfied, but with a question that has been plaguing my mind since the day I picked up an apron and a frying pan. How do you properly cook a steak?

We had Chef Takashi Kimura’s set menu and you can see, the 5th course is indeed a steak. Not just any old steak, but Grilled Wagyu Beef.

Sage Wagyu

First thing that comes to mind is : WAGYU = TENDER, JUICY FATTY FLAVOUR.

If I could learn to cook Wagyu, I could cook anything! First things first – my mission to figure out what makes Wagyu, Wagyu.

Wagyu 101

The word Wagyu refers to all Japanese beef cattle (‘Wa’ means Japanese or japanese-style and ‘gyu’ means cattle). These cows are bred purely to be slaughtered, and man do they have a life I envy (except for the slaughtering part!).

Their diet consists of copious amounts of sake and beer, and regular massages to soften their meat and enhance the marbling of their fat. To put it simply, the more marbling, the more tender the meat.

They are scored on a scale of 1 – 12, 12 being the highest and fattiest. The texture: exquisitely tender, resembling the buttery richness of foie gras. Beware thought, this soft fat will melt at the slightest heat, so overcook it and it is wasted.

Marble Scores

I often get confused when I see Kobe Beef or Australian Wagyu on the menu. What’s the difference? Well, just like Champagne that comes from the Champagne region in France, Kobe Beef is Wagyu farmed in Kobe, Japan, and the same goes for Wagyu farmed in Australia.

Here is an example of one of the best and most sought after meats, a Kagoshima Wagyu A5 Grade.

A5 KAGOSHIMA

Just look at the fat running through this piece of meat! Can you almost taste it?

Now, as with all other meat, you have different cuts of Wagyu. The Loin cuts are the 3 most sought after.

Tenderloin

The Tenderloin is the most popular choice to order with normal beef, being the leanest of all premium beef cuts. However, in a Wagyu, it kinda defeats the purpose because of the lean nature of the meat, you don’t get the wagyu flavour that you may be looking for.

Sirloin

The Sirloin is a firmer and tighter meat, that has a higher marbling score than the tenderloin, but it’s not meltingly soft on your tongue. Sirloin is the most commonly available retail in Malaysia.

Ribeye

The Ribeye is from a muscle that moves, and therefore builds a higher marble score. The Rib Eye is a softer meat exceptionally rich and luxurious with especially prominent marbling. It is rich and velvety in texture.

Here in Malaysia, what is often available retail is a cross bred Wagyu (Wagyu with Black Angus) with a marble score 5-6, which is low. Crossbreeds naturally have a lower marble score.

Let’s take the Ribeye for example. The average retail price for a ribeye would be at RM170- RM180 per kilo.

A Full-blood Wagyu Ribeye steak with a marble score 7 – 12 would retail at RM800 – RM900 a kilo. It is very rare that you will find a Wagyu steak in Malaysia with more than a marble score of 9 . I do know a place that serves them at marble score 12. I’ll be saving up for that meal!

So, now I’ve established that WAGYU = TENDER + JUICY FATTY FLAVOUR, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Could I cook it properly? I enlisted the help of Lil Chef, who is a professional.

I begged and I bribed and I finally laid my hands on a 200g portion of Ribeye with a marble score of 7.

When it came down to cooking it, I chicken out for fear I might ruin this very expensive piece of meat. I stood back an quietly (and shamefully) observed Lil Chef’s skillful hands at work.

How to cook a Wagyu-tastic steak 101 (with the help of a professional chef)

First, look at the steak.  All the tiny white veins running through the raw piece of meat is  fat. And that is what is going to make it taste so good!

Next, season the steak. Salt and pepper will do, and different chefs have different methods. Some say sprinkling salt on the meat will draw moisture out, and you should season the pan instead. This Lil Chef prefers to season it heavily because it is a meat that can handle a lot of flavour.

Seasoning

It really boils down to personal preference, and I decide to go with seasoning the meat.

Keep it simple. Put the pan over a high heat.

TIP: The oil is hot enough when has thinned out. Do not wait for it to start smoking!

Sear the fat on the outside, before searing a whole side of the meat. Roughly 2 mins each side, until nice and brown.

How to cook a Steak

Remove from heat, place in oven preheated to 180 degrees celcius for approximately 2 mins.

Remove from oven, and leave to rest for 4-5 mins. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE BEEF TO REST. Let the juices settle so it doesn’t bleed when you cut it. It will be more tender as it has kept the juice inside, instead of bleeding out onto your plate.

Place on a plate and add whatever sides you fancy. We had sweet potato mash, sautéed green beans + kai lan (Chinese broccoli), roasted garlic confit + beetroot,  and my very own made up “onion-mushroom-redwine-Worchestershire sauce gravy”.

pan to plate

Sit back, relax and enjoy your Wagyu-tastic Steak. Oh yeah, and leave the cooking to the professionals!

Xx aly

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