What’s the fuss with Wagyu Beef and why is it so expensive?

Wagyu steaks are pretty much the in-thing with serious braai-masters and carnivorous palates nowadays. Many restaurants are offering it as the high-end of their steak menu. But you’ll be forgiven for nearly falling off your chair when you see what it costs…

So what is Wagyu really, and is the price justified? Wagyu is a generic name for Japanese Beef. Wa’ meaning Japanese and ‘gyu’ meaning cow. Wagyu is known for its superior marbling, which are the fine veins of fat in the meat. This fat is high in Omega 3 and Omega 6, and is considered a healthy fat. The result is a very smooth, and buttery taste which is unique to Wagyu. But… is it worth the price at almost R1500 a kilogram? Well, if you’re by the means it is certainly worth the expense, if just to try it once. You’ll be glad to know it’s cheaper in South Africa than it is in many places overseas like the US and Australia where you could pay even double that.

LA Farms Wagyu Hungry for Halaal

Wagyu is also known as Kobe Beef but that name is reserved explicitly for beef which actually comes from the Kobe region of Japan whereas Wagyu can be farmed outside of Japan.

One such farm is right here in South Africa. L.A. Farms, owned by the AK Peer family, is situated on the Cape West Coast between St. Helena Bay and Veldrif. The farm started as a weekend getaway from the city life since the late 1990’s. A few animals were kept initially until interest grew and the farm soon became a proper working farm. And in the last 5 years or so they started farming grass fed, organic Wagyu Beef

The family ate what they farmed so their simple philosophy was farming in the most natural, sustainable way without chemicals and antibiotics and with the knowing of traceability and the ethical treatment of the animals. They delved into breeding Wagyu Beef and soon the high quality of the product started becoming in high demand. In time they opened a Butcher now located in Wynberg in the Cape Southern Suburbs. They supply their high quality Wagyu as well as Angus Beef and West Coast Lamb. They also produce patties and sausages which are 100% meat with no additives. The sausage casings are all natural. Even the red colourant used in their viennas is natural and extracted from organic beetroot.

They have a strict breeding policy investing in the top 5% of their breed in order to maintain the superior genetics of their stock. All the calves and lambs are kept with their mothers and naturally reared, until maturity. Their philosophy is about true farm to table transparency.

You may be keen to try a Wagyu steak, but there are other cuts available too. Wagyu Stroganoff and Ghoulash are in the range of R250 a kilo and a tad more affordable. Also worth the extra cost considering the ethical way in which it is farmed. You don’t even need to go to the actual butchery. You can shop their various products online here or find them at:
Broad Road Medical Centre, Broad Road, Wynberg 7700, Cape Town.
Tel: (+27) 021 761 2518 or email: butcher@lafarms.co.za
They supply in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

I thought a warming Beef Stroganoff was just the right winter dish to prepare with some ready cut Wagyu Stroganoff. I served this over thick ribbons of Pappardelle pasta and scattered with fresh coriander for an Asian spin on this Russian classic. Find my recipe below.

Wagyu Beef Stroganoff Hungry for Halaal1

Beef Stroganoff

Recipe Credit: Hungry for Halaal
Image Credit: Hungry for Halaal

500g ready to use Wagyu Stroganoff or sliced rump steak
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp paprika
60g butter
2 medium onions finely chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp crushed dried red chillies or to taste
200g mixed brown and white mushrooms quartered
2 Tbsp lemon juice
250ml sour cream
a handful of chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp of salt
cracked black pepper

Raw Wagyu Beef Stroganoff Hungry for Halaal

In a saucepan on a medium heat, melt the butter, add the onions, garlic and chillies and saute until the onions are soft.
Meanwhile, mix flour and paprika together and coat the steak pieces with the mixture by putting in a bag and shaking it around.
Increase the heat to high and add the steak to the onions in 2 batches stirring to prevent too much sticking. Allow it to sear quickly but don’t overcook. It can still be pink inside as it will cook further. Put all the steak back into the pan.
Add the mushrooms and lemon juice and stir to mix. Reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper.
Lastly, add the sour cream and coriander. Bring back to a simmer and it’s ready. If the sauce is too thick, add a little splash of water to loosen it up.

Serve over pasta or rice and sprinkle with some of the fresh coriander.

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Wagyu Beef Stroganoff Hungry for Halaal
Wagyu Beef Stroganoff Hungry for Halaal