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Kobe beef is a special grade of beef from (Wagyu) cattle raised in Kobe, Japan. These cattle are massaged with sake and are fed a daily diet that includes large amounts of beer. This produces meat that is extraordinarily tender, finely marbled, and full-flavored. It is also extremely expensive, often costing more than $100 per pound. Because of the high cost and increasing demand, there are now some Kobe-style beef-cattle being raised in the U.S. using the same techniques.
The lore surrounding Kobe Beef has long been a source of fascination. Stories of massages with sake and diets based on beer have circulated for years. Some of the stories are true ... some are merely legends which have taken on a life of their own.
Is it true that Kobe Beef in Japan are fed on beer and massaged to make them tender?
Well, both things take place, but not for the reasons we've been led to believe. Beer is fed to the cattle during summer months when the interaction of fat cover, temperature and humidity depresses feed intake. Beer seems to stimulate their appetite. It's merely part of the overall management program designed to keep the cattle on feed in the heat of the summer. The massaging is done to relieve stress and muscle stiffness. It's believed that the eating quality of the meat is affected positively by keeping the cattle calm and content.
Why do they brush the cattle with sake?
Brushing cattle with sake is another practice which creates great interest. Some producers in Japan believe that haircoat and softness of skin are related to meat quality. It's believed brushing the haircoat with sake improves the appearance and softness of the animal and is therefore of economic importance.
Does Kobe Beef have religious significance in Japan?
Japanese soldiers, involved in many armed conflicts over the years, were fed beef to strengthen them for battle. When the soldiers came home from war, they brought, their appetite for beef with them. Village elders believed that consuming beef inside the house was a sacrilege, a desecration of the house, and an insult to their ancestors. Young men were forced to cook their beef outside on plow shears (this process become known as sukiyaki, which literally means plow cooking) until the Meui Restoration finally relaxed restriction against eating beef.
Cattle were first introduced into Japan in the 2nd century to provide power for the cultivation of rice. Because of the rugged terrain, migration was slow and restricted. Cattle tended to be isolated in small areas and each area had essentially a closed population.
From 1635 to 1868, the cow herd in Japan was officially closed by mandate of the Shogun. And except for a short period during the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800's the national herd has remained closed to this day.
Japan's rugged terrain created isolated pockets in which different breeding and feeding techniques were used. This resulted in distinctly different characteristics which, over the years, led to cattle from the Kobe region becoming a standard for the world in terms of flavor and tenderness. Since then, two decades of research and development have resulted in an eating experience unequaled by any domestically produced beef today. Every bite bespeaks a quality that, until now, was unavailable in this country at an affordable price. With KBA, everything has changed.
Kobe Beef America, Inc. produces unusually high quality beef in strictly Iimited amounts. We guarantee the quality of every serving to the ultimate consumer, and as a result, distribution is on a very selective basis.
When you're going to eat beef, you deserve the best. That's why KBA carefully screens its distributors, restaurants and retail outlets. We ensure each serving of meat is properly aged, handled and prepared in ways that deliver the ultimate in dining satisfaction.
Not everyone is allowed to buy KBA products. So, where you see the KBA logo, you can expect only the highest quality. It's a quality we unconditionally guarantee.
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