Our news and recipe site contains information about the history of Kobe beef in Japan, how it is reared, and how it's used in Japanese cuisine.
The Japanese use thin slices of beef in a great variety of dishes. The best known to foreigners are sukiyaki and shabu shabu, but there are many variants collectively known as nabemono (i.e. dishes served in a pot). All of these dishes involved boiling or broiling the beef at or near the table. When cooked in this way, beef needs to be well marbled with fat to prevent it becoming “shoe leather.” Even the most tender cuts of young beef shrivel up and become tough and unappetizing morsels if the beef is not adequately marbled.
Of course, getting the meat cut into wafer-thin slices is often also a problem outside Japan. The best solution is to freeze the meat almost solid and then slice it with a standard salami slicing machine (this is how we do it at Lucies Farm) or a very sharp knife and a steady hand.
Because the Japanese like to cook these dishes at the table, the odour given off while the beef is cooking must not be offensive. To a Japanese, the cooking smell from green crop (or pasture fattened) beef is offensive. The Japanese often attribute the characteristic cooking odour which occurs when grass fattened beef is boiled to the fat component of the meat. They find the yellowish fat unattractive and argue that this is the source of the unfavourable cooking aroma.
The real problem is more subtle. Well-marbled grain fattened beef cooks faster at a lower temperature than meat with less fat between (and within) the muscle bundles. The fat melts and cooks the protein fibrils in the muscle bundles without causing excessive amino acid breakdown. Grass fattened beef with less inter- and intra-muscle bundled fat over-heats in the boiling liquid. The sulphur-containing amino acids in the muscle protein begin to break down and a characteristic pungent (sulphurous) odour is given off.
The Scottish | Kobe beef from Lucies Farm is grain fed, and perfect for shabu shabu. This is cut from our own farm-raised pedigree Highland or Aberdeen Angus cattle: grain and beer fed, massaged, and hand-reared. We use the finest topside, slice it thinly with our commercial meat slicer, and pack it carefully between sheets of special food-grade paper. One of our Japanese customers just e-mailed, "it tastes great. Actually the closest to Japanese beef."
We have complete shabu shabu packages available: please click here.
Or you can order just the sliced Scottish | Kobe beef here.
Per 500g (sliced beef only): £13.50