Updated: Mar 26, 2022
Australia claims to have ‘Greatest Beef of All’. So where does Australia, China and Japan stand when it comes to a beef up?
Geopolitics aside, were you aware that Australians devoured 92.57 kilograms of meat per person in 2019? That’s 7.98 kilograms less per person than the Americans, and we all know how they like to eat big or go home!
The most popular cuts for wagyu beef is the meat around the loin boasts a fine marbling and thus makes for the best cuts to savor the characteristic taste of Japanese wagyu beef. Another great choice is the rib roast, offering a nice balance between marbled and lean meat and this cut is most often used for shabu-shabu, Japanese fondue.Then in China, steak is thinly sliced and used for hot pot.
Wagyu cattle straight from Japan end up in Australia, but not a single cattle can leave Chaoshan in China alive for Australia or Japan. Why?
AUSTRALIAN WAGYU BEEF
Despite Australian Wagyu cattle’s bloodlines originating from Japan (particularly from the Japanese provinces of Tajima, Tottori, Shimane and Okayama), they are bred, fed, grown and processed in Australia. Australia is one of the key players in Wagyu beef production globally.
Did you know in Japan, the word ‘Wagyu’ actually means ‘Japanese Cow’? That’s right! It’s a ‘super beef’ of sorts, that is known for its marbled appearance and for being so tender it actually melts in your mouth.
Wagyu beef is popular around the world because of its superior eating quality compared with other breeds of cattle. Not only does wagyu beef have higher levels of intramuscular fat, or marbling, but the meat texture is finer, resulting in that mouth-watering, flavoursome eating experience. I know, you’re starting to crave for some wagyu beef now, huh?
In 1997, the first five full-blood Japanese cattle were introduced to Australia. In 1999, a further 40 females and nine bulls were flown to Australia, some from the original Japanese born, others were full-bloods born on American soil. Australian Wagyu cattle are most likely crossbred with other breeds, but you can still find some restaurants like Ribs and Burgers that serve Australian-raised 100% Wagyu beef.
CHAOSHAN BEEF HOT POT
While Japanese Wagyu beef is a premium on Australian dinner tables, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean in China, especially the Chaoshan district on the eastern coast, you will surprisingly find how the people there are also crazy lovers of beef!
It is often said that “not a single cattle can leave Chaoshan alive”, as sadly, the cattle walk into the Chaoshan district would all be made into the steaming beef hot pot - a dish allegedly originated from Hakka and improved by Chaoshan people since the 1960s, then has become the representative cuisine of this coastal area.
Chaoshan people love beef hot pot. But what is so special for it to win the hearts of all?
The word “freshness” can cover everything!
The beef used for beef hot pot will be cut from the cattle the day it is served to the customers - any meat left overnight or frozen would be considered as a failure! And when the beef is sliced by expert butchers and becomes perfect, marbled cutlets that are juicy and tender, it comes to the following cooking (and also eating) process that is also designed to maximise its fresh taste.
Yes, I bet you’ve known the process - all you need to do is just throw the beef into the boiling soup (or put it in gently, if you're afraid of splashing stains on your clothes)!
Well, let’s just know a little more in detail:
Pick up a slice of beef and let it jump into the pot. After a few seconds of it rolling in the soup, pick it up again and dip it in the Satay sauce. Saturated with the soup and sauce, the tender beef will dance on the tip of your tongue!
Hooray, enjoy your beef feast!
Some parts of the cattle will be made into juicy and bouncy beef balls which can bounce dozens of times on a smooth tabletop! In Stephen Chow’s movie The God of Cookery, people used the beef balls to play table tennis - see how bouncy they are!
Beef hot pot can reflect Chaoshan people’s attitude towards life. According to Taoism, “the greatest truths are the simplest”(大道至简), while the Chaoshan cuisine emphasises that “the greatest taste are the most original”(大味至淡). Without complicated seasonings and procedures, only a pot of soup and a few pieces of white radish can bring the delicacy of beef itself into full play.
Just as in Chaoshan, people tend to embrace the lifestyle of plainness and simpleness, which allows them to savour all the flavour of life with a pure and sincere heart. More than the cuisine of Chaoshan, beef hot pot also represents Chaoshan people’s connection to the hometown, the sustenance of Chaoshan people’s love and missing towards “the taste of home”.
In the streets that are lively as the boiling soup, Chaoshan people just like the beef are going through their ups and downs, and also just like the amazing taste of the beef in the mouth, what they finally appreciate from life will be the fresh sweetness full of deep affection.
Bio: Alson Cai is an international student from China who is currently in her final year studying Journalism and Public Relations at the University of Technology Sydney. With bilingual skills of Mandarin and English, she also has good understanding of Chinese culture and status quo. Besides interning for Captain Bagrat, she also has published works on SBS Mandarin, Central News, The Junction, and Shantou Daily.
Bio: Eunice Cruz is a Filipino-Australian currently in her second year of Journalism and International Studies (China Major) at the University of Technology Sydney. She is always eager to learn more about other Asian cultures and is particularly interested in Korean language and culture. She has a strong passion for food, beauty and make-up. She also has a keen interest in investigative journalism and is events director of UTS Journalism Society.