Food Discovery : Matsusaka Beef

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For this first post of Food Discovery let’s head to Japan  and talk about one of Japan’s best beef, the Matsusaka variety.

Over the past few years we have all heard about the craze surrounding Kobe beef and the Wagyu breed. The Kobe Beef is often cited as the best beef in the world.
A bit of history here, before 2012, Kobe beef was not exported outside of Japan due to a very strong regulation to protect what they consider a “national treasure”.  Following that, Kobe beef and Wagyu have taken over the world, and is well known and appreciated by Foodies worldwide.

What if i tell you today that the Kobe Beef is just one of several varieties of amazing beefs produced in Japan such as the Mishima, The Yonezawa, the Omi,…, or the Matsusaka that we will discuss today. (An article regarding all these varieties will follow soon).

These cattles are not as mainstream as the Kobe Beef, however they rank as good, if not better.
The Matsusaka beef especially is considered one of Japan’s most expensive beef. It is one of the best kept secret of Japan, a real treat for connaisseur.

Matsusa…what  ?

 

Credit photo – http://www.japantimes.co.jp/

The Matsusaka beef is from the Matsusaka region of Mie Prefecture in Japan.
The Matsusaka beef is produced with Tajima-ushi cows, virgin females only (It is the main difference with Kobe Beef, using male cattle) on farms located around Matsusaka.

In order to get such a high quality meat, the cows are raised in a an ideal environnement. Their diet is based on a mix of soy, wheat and barley. The cows are also fed with beer in order to increase their appetite.
In addition to that, they are walked on a regular basis and are often massaged with straw brushes and Shochu (japanese Alcohol) in order to increase their blood circulation and soften the fat.
Matsusaka cows live usually around 3 years old (between 30 to 38 months) before being slaughtered. In comparison, average cows are usually processed around 18 months (Some exceptions exist such as the outstanding Galician beef).

The Matsusaka beef production is heavily regulated. Each cow is registered in the Matsusaka Beef Management System in order to ensure traceability and authenticity.  All the cows have a specific identification number allowing to find the date and location of birth, date it was slaughtered, shipping information, and the bloodline of each cow.

As most of you know, Japanese beef is rated, based on the marbling of the meat. The marbling is the intramuscular fat  content (cf.picture below). It is the determinant factor to evaluate the quality of the meat, the higher grade, the better.

The marbling grade rank from 1 – 12. While Kobe beef can go from 6 to 12, the Matsusaka beef is located between 10 to 12 (what we also call an A5). This rank is considered the most prestigious, it has the most concentration of fat (the assurance that the meat will melt on your mouth).

Where to eat ?

Compare to Kobe beef, Matsusaka beef  if not well known outside of Japan yet, so it is almost impossible to find somewhere else. I’d recommend you to find a specialised restaurant during your next trip to Japan.

Here a list of restaurants in Japan that serve Matsusaka Beef :

Okahan (Tokyo):

Main Lobby Floor, Hotel New Otani Tokyo, 4-1 Kioicho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Tel : 81-3-3261-3417

Maruyoshi (Matsusaka):

239-2 KamadachoMatsusaka 515-0005,  Mie Prefecture
Tel : +81 598-51-2240

Yokocho (Osaka) :

1-1-19 Namba, Chuo-ku,
Osaka-city, 542-0076
Tel : +81-6-6211-2917

And just for the pleasure of the eyes (Disclaimer : Make sure you have eaten before watching the link below)

More on Matsusaka beef

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