Friday, April 13, 2012

American Wagyu New York strip steak アメリカ和牛のニューヨークストリップステーキ

Wagyu 和牛 is a breed of cattle developed in Japan (As I understand it they are a cross between Japanese native and western cattle. Reportedly, only a few pure native Japanse cattle remain in Kagoshima 鹿児島 and Yamaguchi 山口 prefectures). The breed was selected for its highly marbled meat. To us, classic Japanese Wagyu beef is too fatty when eaten as a steak but it is considered one of the most prized beef. When eaten raw, it has a mouth feel reminiscent of  fatty tuna but once cooked it tastes a bit too fatty to me. Beef fat has a strong taste to me particularly when in excess (unlike pork fat which can be eaten to any excess as far as I am concerned).  Dependining on the regions of Japan in which a particular breed was developed, it is named, for example, "kobe-gyu"  神戸牛, "Matsuzaka-gyu" 松坂牛 or "Oumi-gyu" 近江牛. Often, this beef is served thinly sliced for grilling (yakiniku 焼肉) or sukiyaki すき焼き.

My niece married into a family of cattle farmers near Sapporo. They raise Wagyu but I was told they mostly raise the cross between Wagyu and black Angus. I learned from my niece and her husband that the wagyu is rather delicate and has to be housed in a barn during the cold snowy season but the cross breed with black Angus is much more robust and can stay outside in the snow and survive (and thrive).

In the U.S., one could get genuine wagyu beef imported from Japan but it is prohibitively expensive (we never tried it). It is not worth it in my book. Instead, like ones raised in my nice's farm, American wagyu (cross between Wagyu and Black Angus) is raised in US and Australia and its meat is widely sold in a gourmet market at a reasonable (relatively speaking) price. The meat is much redder and not as highly marbled compared to genuine Wagyu beef as you can see in the picture below but it is much fattier and marbled than typical American prime or choice beef. The cut I got this time was  New York strip steak and I bought it as one serving. It weighed almost 1lb! (Between two of us we ate only less than half this evening).

I did not do anything special to cook the steak. I first let it warm up to  room temperature and seasoned it with Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Using a small amount of light olive oil, I seared both sides on medium high flame until a nice brow crust was formed (The above image on the right). I finished it in a 350F oven for 8 minutes (for medium rare  as you can see below). I removed the steak from the pan to a plate and covered  loosely with aluminum foil to let it rest for 10 minutes. It was homogeneously pink without the center being totally raw. The marble lines were almost not visible since the fat became semitransparent but it was there.

I served it sliced with the side of oven fried potato. For sauce, I degrazed the pan with sake (4-5 tsp) and reduced it to 1/3 and added soy sauce (1 tsp). I then added 4-5 pats of butter to make an emulsion.  Off heat, I added real wasabi (1/2 tsp) and poured it over the slices of steak (the first picture).

This was certainly a great steak. (Of course, it was perfectly cooked, if I do say so myself). The wasabi flavor did not come through as much as I expected. Is it better than U.S. prime stake? I am not so sure. The oven fried potatos were excellent. They had a crunchy crust and creamy soft inside (my wife's contribution). We were still enjoying the wonderful 2007 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon with this steak.

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