M’s Executive Chef Mike Reid is featured in The Daily Telegraph’s Food & Drink, chatting all things Wagyu, and sharing some of his outstanding recipes.
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“There are certain breeds of cattle that fill the hearts of both farmers and consumers with mad desire: White Park, the itinerant breed that roamed the British Isles 2,000 years ago, for instance, or Highland Belties with their comedy cummerbunds, and that doe-eyed beauty, the Jersey. Joining their ranks latterly has been the Wagyu, lusted after not for its looks, but for its meltingly tender, marbled flesh.
Many myths surround the raising of a Wagyu cow – the massages and sake baths, the daily pint of beer, the herbs, the astronomical cost of a Wagyu steak (a 100g to 200g sirloin can command anywhere between £75 and £140 in restaurants) – and much of it is true.
Wagyu is a type of cattle wreathed in legend: originally, the Japanese bred it as a pack animal that was fed a diet that enabled it to work hard and recover quickly. This regime resulted in an animal with fatty, marbled flesh, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that the Japanese actually began to eat Wagyu – and realised what an ambrosial meat they had created.
Two strains of Wagyu emerged: purebred (mixed with other bloodlines) and fullblood (100 per cent Wagyu.) Although much purebred Wagyu has found its way to America and the UK – most notably in Scotland and Wales – to get a glimpse of the real, full-blood Wagyu outside Japan, you need to visit Australia where David Blackmore, founder of Blackmore Wagyu, farms 3,500 fullblood Wagyu cattle over three sites on 8,500 acres at the foot of Victoria’s High Country, two hours from Melbourne.
Blackmore first came across purebred Wagyu in America in 1988 and was initially unimpressed by the characterless working cows, remarking, ‘These cattle are so ugly that I don’t know how I’m going to go back to Australia and describe them.’ His son, Ben, now the CEO of the company, confirms this. ‘They didn’t look like beef cattle. Everyone thought he was crazy.’
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