Snow-aged wagyu. Picture: Stephanie Noto
Snow-aged wagyu. Picture: Stephanie Noto

Could snow-aged wagyu be the highest pinnacle of steak?

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Apr 6, 2021

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Over the years, beef has become more than just everyday red meat.

It has transformed into a delicacy: where cows are fed on luxurious diets and richly marbled cuts are aged with care to bring out the best flavours.

What is wagyu?

Meaning "Japanese cow", wagyu is a breed of cattle that originated in Japan. It is famed not only because of the marbling that drives foodies crazy but also because it has a "melt in your mouth" feeling that makes it a food experience everyone should experience at least once in their lives.

Wagyu is so important that even the Japanese government has declared it a national treasure and banned exports of the cattle to other countries.

There have been reports that the cattle are so well taken care of, they are fed gourmet food and drink, are massaged regularly and classical music is played for them when they go to sleep.

Eating wagyu is a luxury, with a steak going for hundreds of rand. And now, one of the newest, most extravagantly priced variations that have recently arrived is snow-aged wagyu, which comes from Niigata in western Japan. It is marketed as one of the most exclusive wagyu varieties in the world.

A recent Bloomberg article by Kate Krader explored the rise in popularity of snow-aged wagyu: “The prized beef is aged for 30 days in a yukimoro, a storehouse covered with snow. Instead of relying on an industrial, sometimes inconsistent cooling system, snow-aged wagyu sits in a pristine, humid, and very cold environment, tenderizing as oxygen breaks down its fibers.”

The man behind snow-aged wagyu is Takashi Uono, the head of Uoshoku Co. His business is growing.

Krader noted that Uono’s business sold more than 13 million kilogrammes of the meat in 2019.

Experts says that snow-aged wagyu is a distinctive steak among distinctive steaks.

Those who have savoured it say the flavour is like nothing else.

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