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Jan 26, 2023

HOW TOWhy is there a big difference in the price of Chuck Roll between Japan and the US?

Ribloin…Sirloin…Tenderloin… Those are likely the three cuts that come most frequently to mind when thinking about Wagyu beef. Yet, there are other cuts that express the true appeal of Japan’s Wagyu beef. Those are Chuck Roll and Round. In the US, Chuck Roll is a relatively cheap cut that is accessible. But in Japan, it is actually known as a high-end cut commanding prices similar to Ribloin. We heard in detail from a Japanese Wagyu beef professional who has spent roughly the past decade lecturing on how to slice Wagyu beef around the world together with the popular Instagrammer master_wagyu.

Jan 26, 2023

1. The real appeal of Wagyu beef is in secondary cuts

When enjoying Wagyu beef in Japan, in addition to the highest quality cuts, we often see rare cuts. The zabuton from the chuck roll, the chuck tender from the side of the shoulder clod, and the tri-tip and knuckle main muscle from the round are some well-known examples. Various recipes have been developed for each using the most appropriate cooking methods based on the meat quality of the cut. Because chuck roll is the cut most used in sukiyaki, a dish eaten on special occasions in Japan, demand for it increases around important days such as Christmas and New Year’s.

Photo Credit: Japan Livestock Products Export Promotion Council (J-LEC)

2. Did you know that the names of beef cuts differ depending on the country?

Just like the names of cuts of beef are different in the US and Australia, the standards for these cuts also differ slightly. In order to truly understand Japanese Wagyu beef, we should start by understanding the differences in names and standards. In particular, when we compare the same cuts of Wagyu beef with beef from other countries, the meat quality varies greatly. As a result, people who eat the American chuck roll and Japanese Wagyu chuck roll—a cut with the same name—they have differing opinions.

3. Japanese Wagyu chuck roll is full of flavor

The cut next to the chuck roll is the ribloin, so the ribloin side of a chuck roll cut is more tender than other areas of the same cut. On the other hand, the closer you get to the neck side, the tougher the meat becomes. However, the flavor of the meat also becomes more pronounced. There is also a cut that comes from the chuck roll known as the Denver steak, which is popular in Japan and America. To use popular cuts effectively, we must understand the characteristics of each muscle and their flavors. Therefore, professional butchers in Japan say that understanding chuck roll is the first step towards effectively using Wagyu beef as a whole. The reason for this is that from Wagyu chuck roll, one can make various dishes, from sukiyaki and shabu-shabu to even steak.

Image Credit: Japan Livestock Products Export Promotion Council (J-LEC)

4. The most popular cut from the chuck roll is zabuton

A popular cut in both the US and Japan is the cut known as zabuton in Japan. This cut is sold in the US under the name Denver steak. Wagyu zabuton is characterized by its tender meat quality and beautiful marbling, and the cut itself is evenly flat. This makes it very easy to prepare various dishes such as when making Wagyu sushi or steak at restaurants. It is also popular as a rare cut of meat at table-top barbecue restaurants in Japan.

Photo: Wagyu Zabuton

When imagining Wagyu beef, the melt-in-your-mouth texture likely comes to mind. Enjoying not only common cuts but also those you have never tried before may lead you to new discoveries. We learned from master_wagyu about Japanese Wagyu zabuton. Next time, if given the opportunity, I would like to learn more about Wagyu round.