- The highly coveted Japanese Wagyu is hard to come by in the US. An alternative that's just as delicious is American Wagyu, which is Wagyu crossed with Angus breeds to make a highly marbled and flavorful meat.
- Snake River Farms is a top purveyor of American Wagyu cuts — think juicy and tender filet mignon, prime rib, and even brisket.
- Though its cuts aren't cheap, you can taste and feel the difference in quality. If you love a good steak, it's easy to order and cook one from Snake River Farms.
The city of Kobe, Japan is synonymous with Wagyu beef, prized among steak lovers for its unique marbling, rich flavor, and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. Before you book a flight to Japan or put your name on the months-long reservation list at the fanciest restaurant in your city, there's a secret you need to know: you can order your very own Wagyu beef here in the US.
Snake River Farms (SRF) is a premium meat brand that's used at Michelin-starred restaurants and sold at select retailers and online. It sells not Japanese Wagyu, but American Wagyu — the result of imported Japanese Wagyu cattle crossbred with traditional cattle breeds.
Chef and Snake River Farms fan Wolfgang Puck describes American Wagyu as having "the richness of Japanese beef with lots of marbling," but with a flavor that's "more akin to what we're used to in America." He even says that given the choice between the best Japanese Wagyu and American Wagyu, he would "choose the New York steak from Snake River Farms every time."
Instead of using the USDA Prime designation, the highest USDA grade for beef, SRF follows the Beef Marbling Standard (BMS), a Japanese marbling scale that the company believes better captures the superior quality of its beef. Its steaks range in BMS from 6 to 12, with 9 to 12 considered excellent (you can find these top-notch, "Gold Grade" steaks here).
The cattle are raised along the high plain of the Snake River in Idaho, where they're fed balanced diets and have space to roam freely. Each piece is wet-aged (marinated in its own juices) for more than three weeks, then hand cut by a butcher and shipped frozen to you.
On the website, you'll find dozens of American Wagyu beef cuts to buy for a treat-yourself meal or to impress your dinner guests, including porterhouse, filet mignon, ribeye, and prime rib. Even hot dogs and brisket are elevated here, the perfect additions to a gourmet backyard cookout.
SRF sent me its American Wagyu Prime Rib Starter Kit ($255), a set designed to help novice cooks make their first prime rib. A simple kit that reinforced how easy it really it is to make a tasty prime rib, it contained a five-pound prime rib, Jacobsen black pepper salt, and a Thermoworks digital thermometer — quality meat, a generous sprinkling of savory seasoning, and accurate temperature are the only things you need.
Everything arrived in an insulated box (the insulated foam is biodegradable and dissolves in water) with dry ice and a reusable thermal bag, and the prime rib was a little thawed by the time I came home to pick it up.
Prime rib is no doubt a treat I usually only indulge in around the holidays, and a treat this was. The cooking process was a breeze, and I ended up with a huge, flavorful, and juicy prime rib, which I of course also shared with friends.
I don't buy or eat a lot of meat regularly, but when I do, I know I want high-quality stuff. There's no point in skimping or settling, and Snake River Farms is now one of the first online companies I'll turn to, whether I want to buy for myself or for a friend who deserves a good meal.