WAGYU beef is renowned worldwide as one of the most expensive beefs you can buy.
It has been known to fetch up to £500 per kilo in shops and restaurants in other parts of the world. This is some seriously good beef.
The meat from Wagyu cattle – a Japanese breed – is known for its outstanding tenderness, wonderful marbling characteristics and superior quality. It also boasts a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and above all really does taste incredible.
The famous streaks of fat that run through Wagyu beef, giving it the ‘marbled’ effect are what makes it so soft and add that punch of flavour when it’s cooked.
This marbling also makes for a healthier meat containing a much higher proportion of unsaturated fat. All parts of the beef are delicious if they are cooked in the right way. The ribeye steak is the tender and flavourful part, but really all of the cuts are worth trying.
The good news for meat lovers is that Wagyu has now arrived in Scotland. As you may know by now, I’m obsessive about serving the very best quality produce I can at my restaurants. It is really a privilege to serve this wonderful, buttery soft red meat that is sourced locally.
Highland Wagyu, as it’s known, is farmed in Perthshire, at Blackford Farm. Primarily a pure-blood Wagyu breeder, Highland Wagyu has now gone on to cross-breed its cattle with Scottish native breeds such as Angus, Shorthorn, Highlander and Luing, the results of which I’m eager to try.
As with all of the produce I work with, I’m fanatical about knowing where it comes from and how it has been nurtured and produced. These factors influence the taste and quality massively, and the same goes for Wagyu beef. The land here in Scotland is perfect for grazing cattle.
Wagyu cattle have to be fed for about 350 days longer than others breeds, since the marbling – which gives it a wonderful flavour and tenderness – only starts to appear after the age of 24 months. The aim is to keep the animals stress free. They are kept in airy sheds and, when sunny, they are allowed to go to graze outside on grass.
The environment is always relaxed and controlled in order to nurture them and ensure the meat is of the highest quality. They are fed on fresh hay and grain feed, with a sprinkle of Shetland seaweed and it’s these things that all combine to give them outstanding flavour and tenderness.
The meat just tastes of nature itself and because the cattle is massaged and nurtured, the result is unrivalled. The care and attention that goes into the welfare of the cattle is what gives me absolute confidence that the produce is some of the best in the world.
When we are creating dishes with Highland Wagyu, the key for me is simplicity, to let the flavour and texture of the buttery soft meat shine through.
It’s also all about using different cuts throughout the restaurants. At our gastro pub the Scran & Scallie for example, we have been serving Wagyu burgers since we opened. The meat is so incredibly succulent it really is a standout burger.
At the Kitchin and restaurant Castle Terrace however, my business partner Dominic Jack and I only serve the prime cuts, although sometimes we also use them in combination with other cuts.
I am incredibly passionate about making excellent produce like Wagyu meat available to a wider audience, particularly due to it being so unique. Scotland is famous worldwide for its excellent quality of beef, and I am very excited that we now have another outstanding local product to shout about and get our teeth into.
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
400g Highland Wagyu meat (if you can’t find Wagyu then a good-quality sirloin or silverside will also work well)
2 whole eggs
4in pastry cutter
In a heavy-bottomed pan, add a splash of oil, and the chopped onion and sweat. Add the garlic and gently sweat then set aside.
Mince your Wagyu beef and place into a large bowl.
Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk. Add the eggs to the meat, then add the breadcrumbs and cream.
Add the garlic and onions and mix through. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
If it feels too wet at this point, add some more breadcrumbs until you get the right consistency. The secret here is to take a small piece of the beef and make a mini burger, fry it off and taste it to see if you have right levels of seasoning and texture.
Once you have it right, you can decide what size you want your burgers to be. We like to do 200g burgers but everyone has their own preference.
Next, find a pastry cutter, roughly the width of the burger bun (about 4in).
Place the meat mix into the mould, then carefully baton it down to form the shape of the burger. If you want to freeze the meat, you can wrap it in clingfilm and freeze individually. If you’re going to eat the burgers, then cook them off – fry them until brown.
Place the burger in your bun and fill with what you fancy. I like to add lettuce, tomato, and some good-quality gherkins. But this is a chance for you to make it your own way – have fun and be your own chef, adding whatever you like.
17g fresh yeast
620g strong flour
2 eggs – one for egg wash
1 egg yolk
100g softened butter
Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a pan, warm the milk and dissolve the yeast in it. In a separate pan, warm the water and the sugar.
In a mixer, combine the flour, salt and both pans of liquid. Add one egg and egg yolk and incorporate well. Slowly add the softened butter and transfer to a bowl.
Place the bowl with the dough in a warm area until doubled in size. Then cut into 80g portions, shape into buns and leave to prove again.
Brush the tops with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until cooked.