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Posted by portugalpress on June 07, 2018

Who in their right mind would buy beef costing €250 per kilo? After all, the next most expensive beef on sale here is less than one-fifth of the price. But then we must ask the same question about considerably more expensive delicacies such as caviar, for if we want to eat fish eggs, we can buy lumpfish roe (often passed off as caviar) for an even smaller fraction of the price. The fact is that prime Japanese Wagyu beef, especially from Kobe in Japan’s Kyogo prefecture, is a delicacy. And the beef being sold at Apolónia, at €249.95 (why not just round it off to €250?) is the real thing. For anyone interested in the detail and provenance, this beef comes from the Itoham meat company, in the city of Kobe.

Looking at the marbling and comparing to the scales of Wagyu beef ratings for marbling, this is probably either BMS 9 or 10. The ratings go from 3 to be considered Wagyu up to 12. In most high-quality Japanese restaurants in Europe, we would rarely find higher than BMS 5 or 6, so this is something very special.

I had been curious for quite some time to buy a piece and try cooking it myself. I had eaten Kobe beef of a similar standard before, at a high-end Japanese restaurant in Macau some years ago, where I watched the chef cook it right in front of me. It was sliced quite thin and grilled slowly over charcoal embers. Fortunately for my wallet I was being hosted!

Another time, I watched a Teppan Chef cook it on the hotplate. In this case, he explained to me how the meat is placed on a cold hotplate, allowing it to slowly heat up and melt the fat as it cooks through. This slow-cooking is vital for a meat that is so high in fat content and it must be served almost well done, at the point where the fat has melted into the meat and before it starts to dry out.

I asked the butcher at Apolónia to cut me a thin steak, which ended up around 180 grammes, costing me a whopping €45 for one steak. I decided to cook it over charcoal at home, lighting the coals an hour or so before I planned to cook, at the point where they were totally white and giving off the last of their heat.

At this point, the dripping fat did not burst into flames and I managed to cook the meat through, slightly charred on the outside without any burning in around 5 minutes each side.

Seasoned just with a sprinkling of sea salt once cooked, it was absolutely delicious, melting in the mouth with a texture in some ways similar to foie gras, but intensely beefy in flavour.

I am no small eater, but so rich is this meat that I found it difficult to eat the whole steak on my own. This is very much a delicacy where quality rules over quantity.

Will I buy it again? Yes! But not to eat alone. I will aim for a similar amount of beef but probably have it sliced wafer thin. This is in fact the most traditional way of cooking Wagyu beef in Japan, literally flash grilling or frying it for just a few seconds each side, and I will share it between a few beef loving friends alongside other more humble meats.

Oh, and I forgot to say, Wagyu beef is apparently the healthiest beef you can eat, being totally natural and, most importantly, rich in unsaturated fats that actually help to lower overall cholesterol.

By Patrick Stuart
patrick.stuart@open-media.net

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