Top Japanese Chef Reveals How to Cook A5 Kobe Beef

Recently I had the privilege of spending time with one of Japan's top Kobe Beef chefs, Mitsuo Yamamoto of Steak Sakura (2-11-14 Sennichimae, Chuo-ku Namba Daiichi Bldg. 1F, Osaka) to learn how to properly grill Kobe Beef and other A5 Wagyu (as you probably know by now, there are many types of A5 Wagyu, and Kobe is only one of them).

Steak Sakura

I flew into Osaka, and Chef Yamamoto opened his restaurant early so we could cook. We walked together into the kitchen, and he produced a hunk of A5 Kobe Beef from a prize-winning steer that looked, frankly, like a piece of art (see below and weep).

This beef is unlike any other beef you've ever tried. There's no doubt it's expensive, so you definitely want to check out these tips before you cook some of your own -- that way you make sure you get the most out of the experience.

  1. Thaw the meat safely in your fridge overnight. But before cooking, set it out on the counter and bring it up to room temperature.

  2. Trim the fat around the edges, and then, after heating pan to medium-high heat, use trimmed fat to lubricate the pan. Once the oil starts to smoke, it’s time to cook the steak. Using the extra trim fat will help the fat on your piece of beef stay in place rather than melting onto the pan. If you do this you end up with a juicier steak.

  3. Salt the steak a little just before cooking, but not much. The intense umami that Japanese A5 Wagyu is known for carries all the flavor you need.

  1. Cook it hot, at medium-high heat. Your goal through cooking is simple: To take this relatively thin, Japanese-cut steak and sear the outside quickly. You're just warming and melting the interior fats, not truly cooking them.

Depending on the size of your cut and the heat of your pan (which should be set to medium-high), this could take up to 3 minutes total to cook both sides. We recommend cutting small slices of your steak so you can get a feel for the perfect preparation as you go, given your particular setup.

  1. Rest the steak for twice as long as you cook it. (If you cooked for 3 minutes, let it rest for 6.)

  1. Now to eating! First, taste the beef alone, focusing on amasa (甘さ / sweetness), kaori (香り / fragrance) and yawarasaka (柔らかさ / tenderness) to fully savor the beef.

  2. Next, try it with some other accompaniments. These following are designed not to mask, but to complement and accentuate flavors:

i) Sea Salt. Just tap one edge slightly.

ii) Soy sauce and wasabi. (A touch of each really brings out the umami in the beef!)

iii) miso paste and fried garlic chip

Also, check out Crowd Cow's Guide to Cooking A5 Wagyu