What you should know in advance
Shimofuri (marbled beef) or Akami (lean beef), which is tastier?
The factor to determine relative merits of Shimofuri (marbled beef) is “marbling”
Beef is roughly categorized into two, “Shimofuri (marbled beef)” and “Akami (lean beef)”. “Shimofuri” refers to pink colored meat that has fine fat lines called Sashi marbled across, just like “frost”(“Shimo” means frost), whereas “Akami” refers to ruby colored meat that has almost no fat lines but mainly has muscle fibers. It differs from person to person which one is more preferable, we can’t therefore say which one is better or worse. Although the Japanese generally tend to prefer Shimofuri because of its tender and rich flavor, yet recently, Akami is gaining its popularity as people are more aware of their health.
An exquisite flavor and a perfect balance make Kobe Beef special.The deciding factor of deliciousness of Shimofuri is a balance between fat and lean. A chunk of fat could be flavorful and tasty, but we can’t keep eating it feeling it’s delicious. Since quality Shimofuri has adequate amount of fat in the lean meat, we feel it’s tasty without feeling the heaviness of fat.
Akami has its own appealing points
Deliciousness only in Akami, not in Shimori
When you hear the term Akami, you may get an idea that it is “cheap”. However, Akami produced from the cattle maintaining certain quality is actually very flavorful and tasty. If you choose the right one, you can enjoy it as much as having expensive Shimofuri. If it’s a fillet of Kobe Beef, it can be valued more than \50,000 per one kilogram in the marketplace.
What’s good about Akami is its sweetness and fragrance of all. You can enjoy the tender texture in Shimofuri because of its marbling, but in Akami, you can enjoy the chewy texture as well as true wild deliciousness of meat. Especially the meat from deep inside, which is often called rare parts and is not used so much in the physical motion, can produce the tender texture. You can feel as if it comes loose in your mouth thanks to its very fine muscle fiber yet the flavor and fragrance still remains.
How to enjoy the respective deliciousness
As previously mentioned, each of Shimofuri and Akami has its own character and charm.
You can fully enjoy true deliciousness and juiciness of both types of meat when it’s prepared as a thick steak. We would recommend that you eat Kobe Beef as a steak as the first choice. When it’s thinly sliced and boiled in the broth (called “Shabushabu”), you can find its perfect and delicate taste depending on how you boil it. When it’s prepared as “Yaki-Shabu”, you can fully enjoy the savory taste in addition to its delicacy.
Science proves the deliciousness of Kobe Beef!
In general, it’s said “Shimofuri is tasty”. Indeed, beautifully marbled Shimofuri provides deliciousness with subtle sweetness and rich fragrance. However, it’s not always the case of all Shimofuri. They may look similar, but some are delicious while others are not so delicious and somewhat watery.
The difference is “quality of fat”. Experienced traders who judge good and bad of meat firmly check not only the condition of marbling but also the quality of meat. The fat can’t be either too hard or too soft. The fat must be sticky and as if it could melt when touching, that’s the key to distinguish truly delicious meat.
Content percentage of oleic acid differs by lineage
So, what is the difference of fat? Fat refers to the combination of fatty acid and glycerol. A type of fatty acid, “oleic acid” might hold the secret. Oleic acid is constituent that olive oil or chocolate highly contain. “High oleic acid can provide rich flavor”, so it’s mentioned in the literature both domestically and overseas. The fat of Tajima Cattle and Kobe Beef contain more than 50% of oleic acid.
However, this is not only about Tajima Cattle. Other black beef cattle, recognized as brand cattle, have a lot of oleic acid although it’s not as much as Tajima Cattle have. One thing for certain is the content percentage of oleic acid differs by lineage. On top of that, further research is currently underway to find other deciding factors of meat deliciousness through eating quality test.