The Top 5 Ways to Prepare and How to Cook Wagyu Beef (the Japanese Way)

Of course that main image is by none other than the City Foodsters while they were in Ginza Kojyu, Tokyo, JPN

Up front, “well done” and “Wagyu” should not be BFFs, and the best way to eat Wagyu, like the Japanese do, is listed right here.

If you do not have the luxury of eating at a restaurant with all these dishes, you can always buy Wagyu online and prepare these dishes yourself. If that also sounds difficult, you have the pics to ogle over.

BTW, this is how you pronounce Wagyu (Japanese Beef)
It is “wa” “gyoo” (the Beatrix Kiddo way) as opposed to “wag” “you” (the Lt. Aldo Raines way).


All the Japanese Ways To Cook and Prepare Wagyu Beef

Once you get a slab of Wagyu, you will want to learn to prepare Wagyu properly, how to cook Wagyu beef, and ultimately the best ways to eat and prepare Wagyu in a variety of ways to heighten the experience.

1. Grilled Wagyu (Teppanyaki to Yakiniku)

To be specific, there is grilling on a teppanyaki (if you’re in the U.S., think Benihana), and then there is yakiniku (where you get to grill your meat to imperfection/perfection). 

If you are a first-timer trying Wagyu, I would suggest trying it teppanyaki style, which is cooked on a griddle (Benihana is an Americanized version of this style).

This style is common in Japan, but in the US, teppanyaki places are all about fiery volcanos.
Photo Description: a grilled wagyu steak atop a black plate which looks like it's made of steel. That iron plate sits on top of a black wooden base.
Probably the most popular way to eat Wagyu aka pure meat beefiness. Image by City Foodsters
  • COOKING EQUIPMENT: grilled on a teppanyaki (iron griddle) or shichirin (charcoal/gas grille).
  • PREPARATION: grilled rare to medium rare served typically with a side of shio (salt), ninniku (minced garlic), wasabi (grated Japanese horseradish), to a shoyu (soy sauce) dipping sauce.

2. Wagyu Shabu Shabu (Japanese Hot Pot)

Fat is flavor, but that heavily marbled, thinly sliced beef needs to be heated because when it is, the kombu-infused boiling water gives you one of the most natural ways to experience the texture and taste of wagyu.

Unlike the thicker cuts of Wagyu used for grilling, shabu shabu utilizes thinly sliced cuts that are “swished, swished” in a vegan broth that naturally enhances the flavors (like how aged beef heightens glutamates).

“kombu contains iodine, which is important for thyroid function, iron, calcium, along with trace minerals. Kombu contains vitamins A & C as well.” – UMass Medical School
Photo Description: thin strips of wagyu (shinofuri) prepared for shabu shabu. The thin cuts are sitting on a brownish round plate.
Thinly sliced so it doesn’t take much to cook it so you can get to eat’n. Image by the NekoTank

This style of preparation has got to be one of the most unadulterated ways of eating Wagyu, but beware if you are in the United States. In the states, there is an abundance of restaurateurs that will market their shabu shabu under the guise of hot pot.

Photo Descriptions: a diner is using his chopsticks to dip his thinly cut slices into the the pot of semi-boiling water. In the background you can see a crab claw and legs.
Swishing the meat around for a few seconds and eating it with a side of warm rice is so damn good (so au naturel). Image by City Foodsters
  • COOKING EQUIPMENT: either a pot or donabe (cast iron, copper, to ceramic) to a traditional shabu shabu pot (pictured above).
  • PREPARATION: simply water and konbu, vegetables, tofu, and two dipping sauces which are either goma dare (sesame sauce) or ponzu (citrus soy sauce).

3. Wagyu Sukiyaki (Japanese Hot Pot)

If you like strong flavors (I am speaking to you Murica), you will love the combination of a sweet soy sauce broth with a mix of vegetables (did I just lose you my fellow Murican?) takes this wagyu dish to another level.

Welcome to flavor and texture town of melt in your mouth Wagyu plus a raw egg (the egg is optional) in a savory AF bite.

Do not skip the egg because mucilage and a bukkake of slimy is under appreciated.
Photo Descriptions: a picture of sukiyaki done right and there is a female assisting in the preparation of sukiyaki. The person in the pic is using rather large and thick chopsticks to the add the meat to the pot. In the pot you can see tofu, the soy sauce broth, shiitake mushrooms, and a number of other unidentified ingredients. On the side it looks to b a plate of shungiku.
Sukiyaki being prepared by a pro because one does not let Wagyu chillax too long on the burner. Imagery by LWYang via Flickr

To try and cite one style of preparation as my favorite would be difficult, but when I take that first bite, it is a life changing one. The sweet, savory soy sauce based sauce with the fattiness of the Wagyu, a raw egg, and a hot bowl of rice is my come to Jeebus moment and when the Pastafarian spoke to me.

Photo Descriptions: the finished thinly sliced beef is then added to raw egg. In the pic, you can see that the meat is still slightly pink.
The flavor and textures brought on with the dipping of the meat into a raw egg a side of rice, shungiku to miscellaneous vegetables, and you have yourself a savory dish. Imagery by LWYang via Flickr

4. Wagyu Katsu Sando (Japanese Sandwich)

This is one of those dishes that a Japanese came up with, Kentaro Nakahara’s of Sumibiyakiniku Nakahara. Once the dude did it, a million others followed suit from Tokyo, Los Angeles to New York, although out of them all, SakaMai is the one on a massive PR campaign to hype their $85 wagyu katsu sando

Not the type of sammich your mama packed for you in your Charlies Angel’s lunch box (if she did I would have traded you a rice ball for your sandwich).

That is not slices of Wonderbread, but Japanese shokupan (milk bread).
Photo Descriptions: katsu sando sandwiches with shokupan breaad. The sandwich is cut in half, so that you can see the cross section of the medium rare beef katsu. The sandwich sits atop a white round plate.
Even if you are not the sammich type, this will be one that you should not pass up on. Imagery by Gino Mempin
  • COOKING EQUIPMENT: a deep-fryer.
  • PREPARATION: soft and fluffy shokupan (Japanese bread) paired with a panko crusted wagyu that has been deep-fried to a medium rare finish.

5. Raw Wagyu (Beef Sashimi)

What do the Japanese not eat raw? So how could I not have it on this list because, in Japan, I have had all sorts of sashimi from fish, horse to chicken raw, which most Americans would be disgusted by or shocked from seeing on the menu. Except, I expect international folks to not be phased by it because in Europe, they have tartare to carpaccio, the Middle East kibbeh nayyeh, and in South America (ceviche).

Japanese Wagyu “melt’s in your mouth” because of the intramuscular fat (even without having to grill or torch it).

Sing it “Ooh, baby, I like it raw, Yeah baby, I like it raw.”
Photo Description: raw beef and raw liver. Thinly sliced lemon, green onion, and oba shiso. Sprinkled on top of the raw liver is sesame seeds.
If you have ever said “I am so hungry you can eat it raw,” well, here’s your chance to do just that (that is raw liver in the foreground which I could not stand as a kid, but raw, as an adult, I love it).
  • COOKING EQUIPMENT: I will let you figure this one out for yourself.
  • PREPARATION: there are a number of ways to serve it raw which can range from eating it with sliced onions, minced garlic, minced ginger, and wasabi and soy sauce which can be used as a dipping sauce.

Once You Get Through This List, It Might Have You Feeling Like You are Turning Japanese

Beyond this list, there are other ways to experiment with Wagyu, such as experiencing the different cuts of Wagyu (short rib to tongue).

If that is not enough, there are also regional types of Wagyu in Japan, more than you can count, like olive fed Wagyu to trying the most notorious of Wagyu, Kobe beef, if you have not already tried it.

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