We’ve gone a little mad about cows since beefing up Fields’ meat selection with fresh Australian Wagyu. World renowned for its fabulous marbling and tender texture, Australia only started producing Wagyu beef as recently as 1990. It was Michifuku and Haruki II, two full blooded Wagyu bulls, along with their female counterparts, Suzutani, Rikitani and Okutani, who really kicked off the Australian Wagyu program in 1993. Since then, Wagyu cows Down Under have multiplied in great numbers while enjoying remarkably charmed lives!
Originally from Japan, Wagyu cattle are an uneven mix of native Asian cows that mingled with British and European breeds in the 1800s. In 1910, someone put a firm stop to this cross breeding. But by then, there were already several excellent Wagyu varieties. Some decades later, a few of these revered cattle made their way to America where they were cross bred with Angus cattle. Australia was the next stop en route as Wagyu went global.
Their physical strength and capacity for endurance explains Wagyu’s exquisite taste and texture. As draft animals first used in agriculture, the Wagyu cows selected for this purpose possessed more intra-muscular fat cells, or marbling. It’s the marbling that provided an easily available source of energy necessary for the cow’s heavy workload; today it’s that marbling that explains Wagyu’s superior flavor
Nowadays, although the delicious marbling remains, Wagyu cows are wholly relieved from heavy labor duties. Instead, Wagyu cattle in Western Australia’s Margaret River region enjoy a glass or two of red wine as part of their evening meal after a busy day of grazing! And grass fed Wagyu cattle on Robbins Island, Tasmania, spend long stretches of time hanging out on the beach and take several dips a year in the shallow saltwater channels separating one peaceful grazing ground from the next. It seems entirely fitting that the WA 和 part of Wagyu embodies the Japanese concept of peace and balance. Indeed, if contentment had a flavor, it would probably taste like Wagyu.
The ‘M’ numbers that follow the Wagyu name indicate the level of marbling in that particular cut of beef. Level 9 has the most marbling; level 1 the least. It’s really a matter of preference which marbling level you prefer. M9 meat is the most valuable because the high marbling gives it a particular tender texture, but lower levels, like M6-7, are sometimes favored for their slightly lower fat content. Either way, expect Wagyu beef to be nothing less than a cut above the rest.