Wagyu Cubes: What Is It + How To Spot The Real Thing
What's real and what's fake can be hard to tell if the fake stuff is made well. The good news is that when it comes to food, especially Wagyu cubes, it's easy to tell which is the real thing and what is fake with just one look.
The trick is knowing what you are looking at.
First, you need to know what real Wagyu beef meat looks like.
Wagyu beef is the universal name for the breed of Japanese cattle. It is prized for its highly marbled meat, resulting in very tasty and tender beef. (The beef from these cattle are not to be confused with Kobe or Kobe-style beef, Wagyu beef cattle which have been bred and fed differently than other steers.)
What makes this beef expensive and delicious is the natural fat that the meat naturally has. The fat is consistently layered in such a way that it looks like marble, hence the term "marbling". This fat in the beef cubes will melt as it cooks, providing a natural oil for the cubes to cook in. In essence, you are confiting the beef cubes or cooking the beef in its own fat. It's also what gives beef from these cattle its "buttery" soft and tender texture and "sweet" taste. A quick sear on a hot griddle or a dunk in boiling soup is usually all it needs to be ready to eat if you don't want to consume it raw.
This is also your first indication that it is real Wagyu beef. The fat and meat striations are difficult to mimic so if you don't see the telltale marbling, it's probably not Wagyu beef.
What are the other signs that says it's real vs fake wagyu beef?
1 Real Wagyu beef comes with authentic certifications.
Belief it or not, real Wagyu beef can only come from Japan. The Japan Livestock Industry Association, or JLIA, has even created a logo or mark that certifies that it's Wagyu that will tell you that it's authentic Wagyu beef. This is used outside of Japan because it's allegedly illegal to sell beef labeled as Wagyu if it's not real Wagyu within Japan.
However, the importation of Japanese breeds of cattle have made it possible to find Wagyu beef in the USA, UK, and Australia. This is where labeling and the certifications become important. Plus, it should be noted that Wagyu beef in these countries are different from Wagyu beef in Japan since it's meat grading system differs from country to country.
2 Wagyu cubes are made from Wagyu beef trimmings.
What makes these Wagyu beef cubes less expensive than a the real thing is that Wagyu beef cubes like these are commonly made with Wagyu beef trimmings. These are collected, packed, shaped, and then cut into square cubes. There is no marbling on these cubes unlike those cut from a steak.
This is also the reason why these are super easy to cook! These cubes sears easily and quite well in any hot pan. Since these cubes are made with Wagyu beef, it still contains what you are looking for in any Wagyu beef steak cut: the succulent and tender, beefy bites.
3 Real Wagyu beef is expensive.
Your biggest tell whether it's real Wagyu beef cubes or the man-made meat cubes is the price. Real wagyu cubes will be expensive, more expensive than the meat cubes. In fact, authentic Wagyu beef is one of the most expensive steaks in the world at around US$300.
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