The Various Cuts and Grade of Steak

>> Mar 8, 2010

A good slab of beef, is determined by its grade and also its cut. As can be seen in most hypermarket/supermarket, people tend to go for Australian beef. Why is that so? The most common answer would be because the meat is of higher quality and more tender. There is some truth in this statement. Yes, the meat might be of better quality and texture, but how do we determine that? That is when grading and cuts come in.

Grading for beef is usually set by third party organizations like the USDA. There is also the Japanese grading where the beef is graded based on beef marbling (as in fat to meat ratio), beef colour/brightness, beef firmness and texture, beef fat colour and luster. The overall meat grading is the average of a score of 5 for each of the individual categories above.

Cuts for the beef varies as well. The best and most expensive part of the cow is the Filet Mignon. The Filet Mignon is actually the smallest part of the tenderloin, which is the least exercised, hence that soft, tender texture. The Filet Mignon is actually taken from the psoas major, for people who know anatomy.

The more popular cuts for steak would be the T-bone, tenderloin, rib eye and sirloin. There cuts can usually be found in all butchers and restaurants serving steak.

T-bone - A cut from the tenderloin and strip lion connected by a T-shaped bone, hence the name.

Tenderloin (known as eye fillet in New Zealand and Australia) - A cut from the loin of the cow. It is the most tender part of the cow. However, some people complain that the tenderloin lack flavour. Filet Mignon is the most tender part of the tenderloin.

Sirloin - A cut from the hip of the cow. Some people regard the sirloin as having just the right amount of flavour and texture.

Rib-eye - A cut from the primal rib of the cow. Not as pricey as the tenderloin, neither is it as tender.

As for marbling score, which is the most common grading known for beef, I'll just explain through this picture. After all, a picture holds a thousand words.

This is the Beef Marbling Score. Each number represent the marbling score of the beef.

Beef Marbling Score

This picture was taken and edited from the article Japanese Meat Grading, by J.R. Bushboom and J.J Reeves, Washington State University.

As for the famed termed Kobe beef and Wagyu beef, I shall elaborate below.

Kobe beef - Beef from the Black Ushi breed of Wagyu. It has a very strict criteria to be qualified under this category. The cow has to be of:

-Tajime borned in the Hyoga Prefecture
-Fed by a farm in the Hyoga Prefecture
-Bullock or virgin cow
-Processed at a slaughter house in Kobe, Nishinomiya, Sanda, Kakogawa and Himeji. All located in the Hyoga Prefecture.
-Marbling ratio (BMS score) 6 or above
-Meat quality score 4 or 5
-Gross weight of cow is 470kg or below

The cow is fed a beer a day, massaged with sake daily, and brushed for setting the fur and fed on grain fodder. The above criteria are the Original KOBE Beef.

Wagyu beef on the other hand, is as stated below.

Wagyu beef - A species of cow genetically predisposed to intense marbling to produce a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat. Contrary to most people's understanding, Wagyu only means the cow is of Wagyu breed. In other words, Wagyu beef could be of marble score 1, received a score of 1 on the Japanese beef scale and yet be considered wagyu beef.

However, wagyu beef could also be 'kobe-like beef', grew up outside Japan, fed beer and massaged just like the Japanese's Kobe beef, and yet be listed under the same category. So, always enquire on the MARBLE SCORE of the beef before ordering Wagyu beef in any restaurant.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my brief article on beef. Have a good day.

1. Wikipedia


Nikel Khor March 8, 2010 at 1:19 PM thing for me to know

from Nikel Khor

Tummy Rumble March 8, 2010 at 10:43 PM  

@Nikel Khor: yea man... the whole point is to get other people to know about it..

Anonymous,  March 10, 2010 at 1:33 AM  

hey man, thanks for the write up.. It was educational yet compacted and short.

Anonymous,  March 10, 2010 at 1:33 AM  

and by the way, thumbs up!

thenomadGourmand March 17, 2010 at 6:50 PM  

Great educational piece.. now i got a better idea.. wonder some wagyu I had was bad while soem were really good..

Tummy Rumble March 17, 2010 at 11:21 PM  

@Anonymous: thanks

@thenomadGourmand: :)

Time To Chow May 2, 2011 at 4:03 PM  

Good write up! I totally agree on educating people. Hopefully to ask the right questions and know what you are getting.

There are certainly no shortage of restaurants in the world that deserved to be questioned about their steak/beef program.

I would probably be one of those people you mention that prefers a NY Striploin(not a sirloin) to a Filet Mignon. When you get a really beautifully marbled and flavorful side of beef, I think it's best to enjoy a cut with more flavor, imho.

The Canadian company Nikuya's(the company u mentioned in your 'citation') main supplier is snake river in the US. Although they carry Japanese and Australian Kobe/Wagyu, the shipping cost makes it cost prohibitive. IIRC, it was over RM $400(retail) for a portion of Kobe Striploin. So you can imagine how much they would charge at the restaurant.

Tummy Rumble May 2, 2011 at 10:05 PM  

@time to chow: thanks for your feedback.. looks like you know your beef as well..

Anonymous,  January 20, 2012 at 9:10 AM  

Love you bro ! keep it up with the eating and the blogging ;)

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