Wagyu beef, that tender, marbled slab of cow native to Japan, has long been notoriously difficult for home cooks in the States to obtain. It’s got a lower melting point than most garden-variety beefs, and is so juicy by nature that it doesn’t require oil to cook. Wagyu's consistency resembles that of butter; its intensity of flavor makes my mouth sweat. (The much-beloved Kobe beef is a variant of Wagyu.)
Imports of Wagyu to the States are pretty scarce, and distribution channels are such that there’s a good number of stakeholders between the farmer and the consumers who end up ingesting it. What’s nominally “Wagyu” in restaurants isn’t exactly the real thing so much as a watered-down counterfeit.
PSA: Today, Crowd Cow, a nascent startup that sources beef cuts directly from independent farmers (it fancies itself a digital farmers market), is loosening those pesky bureaucratic hoops. Crowd Cow's offering A5 Wagyu straight from farms in Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures. A5, referring to the Japan Meat Grading Association's cattle-grading classification system, is the highest possible grade a cut of meat could receive within Japan. Crowd Cow's offering rib, strip, and tenderloin subprimals, and cuts begin at $79 each. They’ll ship the week of July 24th, cushioned by packaging with dry ice, and will arrive by August.
The catch is that Crowd Cow’s offer begins in half an hour—8AM PST, 11AM EST—and the company doesn't expect its supplies to last very long. If you’ve always wanted to cook with Wagyu (and the company itself has many suggestions for what to do if you're so lucky), don’t miss your chance.
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Learn more about Crowd Cow's Wagyu beef campaign here.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.