Known as the most premium cut of beef in the world, Wagyu steak is a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth meal that doesn’t need much extra flavoring.
Due to its beautiful marbling and high-fat content, cooking Wagyu results in a tender, juicy steak (or burger) that pairs well with light vegetables and salads.
It’s best to eat Wagyu steak rare to medium rare, as this will deliver that buttery, tender texture Wagyu is known for.
The cattle used to make Wagyu originated from Japan. “Wa” means Japanese, and “gyu” means cow. The Japanese beef cattle have more intramuscular fat cells, which produces the signature marbling texture.
While Japanese Wagyu is most famous, western society began raising Wagyu cattle in the 1970s when they were first imported to America. Today, Wagyu beef can cost up to $200 per pound, making the most expensive cut of beef available.
How do you prepare Wagyu steak?
When preparing and cooking your Wagyu steak, you should follow a few universal steps to ensure the highest quality outcome.
1. Choose the right cut.
Just like regular cattle beef, Wagyu has many different cuts of steak. You can choose a filet, ribeye, kebab, flank, roast, patties, or chuck. Depending on the dish you’re preparing, you can choose the right cut of Wagyu.
2. Keep frozen if you’re not cooking right away.
If you buy frozen Wagyu online (from a retailer like Snake River, Porter Road, Crowd Cow, or FarmFoods), you’ll want to put it in the freezer right away before it starts to thaw. The less exposure it has to air, the better to avoid freezer burn.
3. Thaw for six hours, cook right away.
When you’re ready to cook your Wagyu steak, you’ll want to let it thaw for six hours in the fridge for about every pound. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook the steak, you can take the meat out of the fridge. It’s important to have your meat at room temperature, so it cooks evenly.
4. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Because Wagyu is a rich cut of beef, you don’t want to hide the flavor with too much seasoning. Sprinkling some salt and pepper on both sides is the way to go. You can also use your favorite steak seasoning if you want a little extra flavor. If you want to lean into Japanese traditions, you can look into yakiniku sauce)
5. Cook rare to medium-rare, not well-done.
Wagyu is best enjoyed from rare to medium-rare, which gives you that luxurious, buttery taste and texture. Ideally you can use a meat thermometer to keep a close eye on its internal temperature, somewhere around 130°F to 140°F will give you the right preparation.
6. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before eating.
Although you’ll want to dig in right away, it’s actually best if you allow your Wagyu steak to sit for up to 10 minutes. Cover in tin foil to keep the warmth. This allows the meat fibers to relax and reabsorb the delicious, fatty juices.
How is Wagyu best cooked?
What is the best way to cook Wagyu steak? There are numerous methods to cook this expensive cut of beef.
On top of Wagyu being delicious, the marbled beef has plenty of health benefits from its monounsaturated fatty acid composition (MUFA).
MUFAs have little effect on your cholesterol and are heart-healthy fats that can lower your LDL cholesterol, while increasing HDL cholesterol.
1. Pan-Frying Wagyu Steak
One of the best ways to cook Wagyu steak is by pan-frying in a cast iron skillet. Lightly season the steak with salt, pepper, or steak seasonings, and lightly grease the pan with butter (you don’t need a lot of butter, since the fat from the meat will coat the pan).
Sear the meat for 3-4 minutes on each side, then let it rest for up to 10 minutes while the juices settle. Cut the meat into thin slices or strips, rather than thick cubes.
2. Slow-Cooking Wagyu Beef
Slow-cooking already makes meat tender and buttery, so imagine what it tastes like when you use Wagyu! When slow-cooking Wagyu, you’ll want to use beef shanks or flat-trimmed brisket, up to 4 pounds.
There are many recipes available online that use this slow-cooking method. If you want to be fancy, you can try an Osso Buco recipe that slowly braises the hunks of meat in a beefy broth with tomatoes, wine, and herbs.
You’ll get the delicious, rich taste of the Wagyu fat and marrow from the bones.
3. Cooking Wagyu Steak with the Japanese Method
Traditional Japanese-style Wagyu involves cutting the steak into small strips and cooking it on a communal flat grill (similar to a hibachi grill). You can use almost any Wagyu steak cut, including ribeye, filet mignon, porterhouse steak, and top sirloin.
After salting the meat, slice the meat against the grain into strips, about 3-4 inches long, and up to 1 inch thick. Grease your pan, griddle, or skillet with trimmed fat or butter, and sear the top and bottom for 1 minute.
Sear the sides for 30 to 45 seconds. Let the meat rest under tinfoil for 5 minutes, then enjoy!
Is it better to grill or pan-fry Wagyu?
Although you can grill Wagyu steak, it’s much easier and safer to pan-fry in a skillet. Wagyu steak has high amounts of marbling and fat, which means the juices can burn and cause flare-ups in the grill.
Worst case scenario, your expensive steak will cook unevenly and burn, and you lose all those delicious juices to the coals of the grill.
However, that’s not to say you can’t cook Wagyu steak, you just have to monitor the steak very carefully and be mindful of the temperature. To grill Wagyu steak, you should cook on medium heat, about 2-3 minutes per side.
To ensure it cooks medium-rare, use a meat thermometer. The meat will cook quickly, so you’ll want to take it off the grill as soon as it reaches the desired temp. If you’re going to use a grill, try a flat griddle instead of a grill with coals.
Or, you can use a cast iron skillet on the grill, using the grill’s heat to indirectly cook the steak.