Kobe beef. Wagyu. Washugyu. What's the difference? They're all variations on the same theme, that is, Japanese cattle bred for their intensely marbled, delicate beef. Wagyu are cattle raised in Japan, which are named after the regions they hail from, with Kobe beef being the most famous here (but there are other great breeds from Saga, Iwate and elsewhere). Washugyu is the name of Wagyu crossbred with Black Angus to make it hardier and raised here in America (Oregon and Texas, I believe). All these varieties yield meat that is enjoyed fresh and tender rather than dry aged and cured, like with American-style beef.
Now that we understand a little bit about this meat, what do you do with it? That's where Chef Abe of En Japanese Brasserie comes in. He recently cooked a special six-course dinner with Washugyu meat supplied by Japanese Premium Beef (another story here, too). I was working in the kitchen that night, so I snapped some shots of Abe-san and the team in action. What I love about Japanese-style beef is that you treat it like you would sashimi. Rather than wolfing down a huge Washugyu steak, you taste thin slices or cubes of this beef, so you can savor that melting, beautiful marbled richness without being overwhelmed by it. For instance, Abe-san created a tartare, shabu-shabu salad and fantastic short rib sushi, with the delicate meat raw or barely cooked. But he also braised the beef with savory Hatcho miso -- a prefect match -- and lightly deep fried it, katsu-style, Panko breaded and crispy, which added a delightful texture. Delicious. Check out these photos: