Our journey inside Milanese cuisine takes us today to discover Lombardy’s wagyu, one of the latest additions to the list of native prized ingredients. Until a few years ago, enjoying a kobe beef rib-eye steak from the wagyu breed required spending mind-boggling amounts of money, if not even traveling to Japan. Since 2016, however, wagyu is also being raised in Lombardy, much to the delight of passionate carnivores.
But exactly what is wagyu, and why is it so prized?
Wagyu is the Japanese beef, of which the best-known expression is Kobe. The best known but not the only one: there are in fact numerous cattle breeds originating in Japan, characterized by a meat with a very pronounced marbling and particularly rich in unsaturated fats, as well as a very high cost. These include Hida, Mishima and Sanda.
Wagyu is known worldwide for its very low cholesterol level and large amount of vitamins, due to the intramuscular fat which is up to 10 percent, while of cattle of other breeds it is only 3 percent. In addition, the wagyu breeding method is unique: from daily massages to sake feeding.
The “local wagyu” project started in 2007, a collaboration between the Ferrazzi Foundation and Cova, an agricultural institute in the province of Milan, the Chamber of Commerce, and Unioncamere Milano. Twenty-five embryos were imported from Australia (first myth to be debunked: wagyu is also bred in Holland, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, and not only in Japan ) and implanted in Frisian cows from Lombardy. Three male and one female calf were born; in 2016, when Lombardy wagyu was put on the market, there were 14 purebred calves.
Today, Lombard wagyu has officially become an ingredient of gourmet tables, without losing any of its original characteristics. At Stendhal Milano you can find it in many forms, from skewers to bresaola.
If you are planning a visit to Milan, and an artsy stop in Brera, we’ll be happy to offer you a tasting!