3 Easy Ways to Prepare an American Wagyu Steak
Maybe you smelled the aromas from your neighbor’s grill, or perhaps you were thinking about that amazing steakhouse you visited a couple of years ago in Las Vegas. It doesn’t take much to kick off a serious craving for steak, and that craving just doesn’t go away until there’s a prime cut of tender beef resting on your plate.
When you get that craving for steak, you’re not thinking of the tough, flavorless cuts of beef at your supermarket’s meat counter. You’re thinking of a top-end steak, full of flavorful marbling and with just the right amount of “mouthfeel.”
That’s why many steak lovers opt for American Wagyu beef.
In this article, we’ll cover the best ways to prepare an American Wagyu steak, along with tips and tricks to enjoy a steak that your taste buds will never forget.
What is American Wagyu?
American Wagyu is a breed of cattle combining the best qualities of American Angus and Japanese Wagyu beef (also known as Kobe). The result is beef that offers the buttery, craveworthy texture and deeply intricate flavors of purebred Japanese Kobe beef with a flavor palette that is familiar to American consumers.
Many people who try American Wagyu highly prefer it over traditional American Angus beef, citing its superior texture and subtle flavors as two leading reasons.
It’s important to note that most restaurants, delivery services, and others claiming to offer “Kobe” beef are actually selling American Wagyu. There are exactly nine restaurants in the United States that serve authentic Japanese purebred Kobe - three of which are in Las Vegas, and the rest in Texas, California, and New York.
“American Wagyu” (or “Wangus,” in some circles) is much more readily available, although you’re less likely to find it in supermarkets than through specialty online and brick and mortar retailers.
Although you can certainly expect to pay a bit more for a top-quality American Wagyu steak than for an American Angus steak of the same weight and cut, the extra expense will be well worth the investment. It will also cost you significantly less than a purebred Japanese Wagyu steak, which can cost up to $30 an ounce.
How do you prepare American Wagyu steak?
Now that you’ve finally discovered American Wagyu steak, and you’ve found a butcher or specialty supplier to purchase your steaks from, you’re naturally excited to sink your fork in and find out what all the fuss is about. Before you bring your steaks near any kind of heat source, though, it’s important to know how to prepare an American Wagyu steak correctly.
Because the flavors of Wagyu beef are so intricate, it would be a pity to drown out those flavors with steak sauce, bearnaise, or other steak accompaniment. In fact, the only seasonings you should be using on your steak are salt and black pepper. That’s it. The combination of salt and black pepper draws out the natural flavors of the steak, while giving it a perfect “crust” to provide just the right texture when the first bite hits your taste buds.
Japanese Kobe steaks are typically cut about ½ inch thick, which requires a much different preparation approach than preparing an American Angus steak. American Wagyu steaks, on the other hand, are typically cut about 1 to 1 ½ inches thick, comparable to American Angus steaks. This means that if you’re used to grilling Angus, you won’t see much difference in cooking times.
If you do happen to get ½ inch thick steaks, though, you’ll need to closely monitor progress and reduce cooking time accordingly - otherwise you’ll end up with a piece of expensive shoe leather.
Three ways to prepare American Wagyu steaks
On the grill
When it comes to grilling steaks of any kind, some people swear by the venerable gas or charcoal grill. Humans have been fire grilling meat for centuries, after all, so why change a good thing?
Others believe that American Wagyu steaks are too delicately flavored for grilling - the extensive marbling can quickly melt away, leaving you with a dry, tough piece of meat.
If you decide to grill your American Wagyu steaks, leave them out on the counter for at least 30 to 60 minutes to allow the meat to come to room temperature. Skipping this step can result in a steak that’s undercooked on the inside and burnt on the outside.
Keep the grill to medium heat, and don’t expose the steaks to direct heat for more than about two minutes per side. Direct heat is necessary to “sear” the steaks and lock in the juices, but searing steaks for too long will dry them out.
Make sure you have a meat thermometer handy. If you want a medium-rare steak (which is recommended for American Wagyu beef), you’ll want the internal temperature to reach at least 145 degrees F. If you prefer your steak done “medium,” the internal temperature should reach 160 degrees F. Grilling American Wagyu past “medium” is not recommended.
After grilling, the steaks should “rest” away from heat. This allows the cooking process to stop and the juices inside the steak to redistribute.
In a cast iron skillet
While some people love their grills, others swear by cast iron - this happens to be an excellent way to prepare American Wagyu steaks.
Most sources will tell you to lightly butter the cast iron pan (after seasoning and allowing the beef time to reach room temperature) and pan-fry the steaks over medium heat for about four minutes on each side.
If you have an oven, though, one simple trick can dramatically increase the flavor of your American Wagyu steaks:
Preheat the oven to 385 degrees F. Sear the steaks on one side for two minutes, then turn the steaks and sear for one minute.
Then, put the steaks (cast iron skillet and all) in the oven for four to five minutes.
After you take the skillet with the steaks out of the oven, transfer the steaks to a plate and let them “rest” for five minutes.
In the oven (reverse searing)
A third popular method for preparing American Wagyu steaks involves a combination of an air fryer/oven and a cast iron skillet.
Called “reverse searing,” this process involves cooking the steaks in an air fryer/oven at 245 degrees F at 10 minute intervals until the internal temperature reaches 100-120 degrees F.
Then, melt butter in a cast iron skillet and sear the steaks on each side for one to two minutes.
As with the other methods described, it’s important to let your steaks rest for five minutes before serving.
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