Is it a good idea to sous vide Wagyu steak? Yes, it absolutely is. In fact, Michelin-Starred Chef Mike Bagale (formerly Executive Chef of Alinea) prefers this method over all others to cook A5 Wagyu.
Below, we’ll jump right into the sous vide wagyu recipe, because that’s what you’re here for. After the recipe, you’ll find content on what Wagyu beef is and what makes it special.
Understanding how the delicacy of Wagyu beef differs from typical beef is the key driver of how best to sous vide Wagyu steaks. You can consider this an extreme care recipe that applies across a broad range of cuts for sous vide steak.
- Related article: Best Cut of Steak for Sous Vide
Table of Contents
Sous Vide Wagyu Steak Recipe
- Sous Vide Cooker
- Sous Vide Container
- Vacuum Sealer
- Vacuum Seal Bags
- Wagyu Steak
- Set the sous vide cooker to 54.4°C / 130°F to preheat the water.
- Place the Wagyu in a vacuum sealed bag and sous vide for 90 minutes; three hours if frozen.
- When the Wagyu is done, chill the steak in the vacuum sealed bag. If the steak is 3/4" thick or less, 15 min in cold tap water. For steaks 1" thick or more, 5 minutes in cold tap water.
- Preheat the skillet over medium-high to high heat while steak is chilling.
- Remove steak from bag and season it with salt before searing.
- When the pan is ready, sear the Wagyu steak no more than 60 seconds per side to get that golden-brown tasty crust. For 3/4" cuts we'd sear closer to 45 seconds per side. Butter optional for a deeper brown crust.
- Let rest
- That's it; all that's left to do is to enjoy your "melt in your mouth" Wagyu steak!
Let’s introduce Wagyu beef and see why a super simple sous vide Wagyu steak recipe is a great way to enjoy this amazing steak.
What is Wagyu Beef?
Wagyu beef, or Kobe beef as referred to in much of the world, has a long and illustrious history that originates in Japan.
Wagyu is made from special Japanese beef cattle breeds: Black, Brown, Polled, and Shorthorn (source). They are bred to produce intensely marbled beef with a high percentage of unsaturated fats. A5 is the highest grade of wagyu; the A represents a high yield of meat while the 5 represents the highest degree of marbling.
Together this creates truly unique beef considered a delicacy. The marbling is so extreme it’s difficult to tell if the meat is marbled with fat or the fat is marbled with meat! This produces an incredible taste along with an almost melt on your mouth buttery texture when cooked properly.
There are four primary areas in Japan where Wagyu is raised: Matsuka city, Kobe city, Shiga prefecture, and Miyazaki prefecture. Kobe is to wagyu what champagne is to sparkling wine. Miyazaki Wagyu has been crowned best wagyu beef for 20+ years straight now.
However, due to high demand and low supply for wagyu beef across Asia and other parts of the world, wagyu beef prices are extremely high. A tariff and quota system is often imposed on Wagyu meat, which exacerbates supply issues.
What is American Wagyu Beef?
When Wagyu is crossbred with non-Wagyu cattle, it yields American Wagyu. American Wagyu is incapable of being A5 grade comparable. Think of American Wagyu being on the extreme end of the marbling you see in the highest quality prime grade beef while A5 Wagyu beef is out of this world in comparison.
American Wagyu is much closer to the robust steak flavor most pallets are accustomed to and is much more affordable relatively. An American wagyu ribeye is the cut most likely to produce the most comparable American wagyu steak experience to that of true wagyu.
We would recommend cooking a ribeye steak, whether using Wagyu or American Wagyu. Strip steaks are the other common cut you can find at your butcher shop. You can read more about when to pick which here: New York Strip vs Ribeye – Which to Choose? Or if you’re looking to do something unconventional, use other cuts like short rib to make beef bacon.
Why Sous Vide Wagyu?
Given how much Wagyu costs, cooking via the recipe sous vide above is a great choice. The last thing you want is to regret buying the pricey steak after a wayward cook. Using something like an Anova sous vide will all but guarantee a fantastic result.
How to Sous Vide Wagyu Steaks
When cooking Wagyu sous vide, using a low temperature ensures the fat doesn’t melt away completely and deteriorate the steak’s consistency. A little-known fact is that Wagyu fat renders at just ~75°F, much lower than that of other steaks, making sous vide an ideal method for Wagyu.
The perfect temperature for this meat is at 54.4°C / 130°F for sous vide. The sous vide precision enormously protects you from ruining what is among the most expensive steaks. Though we generally prefer our steak medium rare, we find A5 to be optimal closer to medium; the skillet finish gets us there.
Obviously, use a sous vide bag. Preferably a vacuum sealed one to protect against the unforeseen.
After the 90 minute sous vide immersion cook is complete, the chilling step is particularly important for steaks less than an inch thick (typical of A5). This step ensures an evenly cooked steak with precision. Steaks less than an inch thick can be chilled overnight if desired to aid the prep process.
Post chill, sear the wagyu meat in a very hot pan to keep the juices and fat intact.
This will produce not only a perfectly cooked steak, but also the exterior of it will be delicious. The fat content will ensure that you’ll get an incredible golden-brown, tasty crust.
If you choose to season the meat before the sous vide cooking, stick to salt solely as you’ll want the flavor of the meat to shine.
You can season it while you are searing it in the hot pan with salt.
Traditionally, Japanese chefs will also add some garlic to the pan. We’d prefer butter over oil to create a deeper crust. Broiling in an oven for a finish would also yield an acceptable result.
Always remember to let your meat rest to keep the juices from running out. This helps keep each piece of steak juicy.
Where to Find Quality Wagyu
Wagyu, particularly Japanese Wagyu, can be difficult to source at your local butcher or grocery store. There are several sites that sell Wagyu online; the largest of which is Crowd Cow. Use this link for $10 off your first Crowd Cow order.
If you haven’t tried ordering online at Crowd Cow, I’d encourage you to do so. They have a large selection of high-quality meats and operate under the core tenents of taste, transparency and convenience.
Crowd Cow connects you to 100+ small farms across 23 states. The selection ranges from competitively priced grocery store staples to restaurant quality craft and heritage meats.
To sous vide steak, we find 90 minutes to be optimal. You can go anywhere from one to two hours. Beyond two hours, the tissue would break down more than to our liking. Double the time if frozen. Less than an hour (for thawed or two hours for frozen) of cooking would be unsafe.
54.4°C / 130°F is the ideal temperature for the sous vide cook. Internal temperature will rise with finishing.
Sous vide method is a great method for cooking Wagyu steak and all but assures you won’t dry out the steak.
We’d scream yes, wagyu ribeye is better than wagyu strip. If you’re splurging to begin with, why not get the best cut: Ribeye.
Wagyu translates to Japanese cow and Wagyu references specific cattle breeds refined in Japan over centuries. A5 Wagyu is the highest grade of Wagyu; the A (of A, B, or C) represents the highest yield of meat while the 5 (of 1-5) represents the highest quality, of which the degree of marbling is a primary driver. For reference, the best grade of Angus beef in the US can achieve the equivalent of a low-end A4.
The Kuroge Washu breed is the one you should be looking for. Its the only Wagyu that can achieve an A4 or A5 grade. Any Japanese breed of cow classifies as Wagyu; beware!
Consider a side dish of greens, such as a salad, to help digest the meat more efficiently. There’s no harm in preparing something like fan favorite potatoes as a side.
If you enjoy or are curious about wagyu, but haven’t heard of a spinalis steak, you NEED to read this.
Check out other tasty recipes sous vide to enjoy with your family and friends:
If you’re in the mood for an interesting short read, see The Colonel in the Kitchen: A Surprising History of Sous Vide.