SASHI BEEF: Wagyu Beef of the North?

Hailing from Finland and Denmark, Sashi Beef is a delicacy that is becoming increasingly popular among meat lovers and chefs all over Europe. In 2018, it was crowned with gold on the infamous World Steak Challenge. The founding father of Sashi is the notorious John 'Sashi' Nielsen.

When translated from Japanese, ‘Sashi’ literally means ‘marbling’. And boy, this notorious beef from the North definitely has some beautiful marbling!

To get the discussion going, Japanese A5 Wagyu is widely considered to reside on top of the marbling ranks. That being said, there might be a new contender coming straight out of Northern Europe. Let’s see if Sashi meat can weigh in on the discussion.

 Sashi Beef

What is marbling exactly?

Marbling refers to the amount of intramuscular fat within a steak. Intramuscular fat boosts a steak remarkably in terms of flavor, texture and tenderness. One can easily review the amount of intramuscular fat by examining the little white flecks and lines that run through the steak. If you’re able to spot these easily, you’re definitely in for a treat!

Intra-muscular fat is not to be confused with inter-muscular fat, as the latter refers to the fat that is located between the muscles. That type of fat is best trimmed off before grilling, as it does not provide any significant advantages to the overall meat experience.

Japanese A5 Wagyu on ice

Japanese Wagyu A5

In terms of marbling, A5 Wagyu beef has always been the star of the show. This beautiful beef hails from the mighty Japan, and is globally assumed to be the most superior beef in the world. Furthermore, Japanese Wagyu is subject to stringent grading procedures based on meat quality, yield grade and… marbling! Grading procedures are sanctioned by official Japanese instances to ensure fair export and trading.

As one can spot right away, the amount of intramuscular fat within this Japanese delicacy is astronomically high. Hence, it’s no miracle that a delicious Wagyu Ribeye gives that heavenly, impeccable taste that it is notorious for. In terms of texture and tenderness, Wagyu slices as smoothly as butter and provides a deliciously flavorful and tender eating experience. We have to admit that after trying once, it is fairly hard to think of any competition out there.

 Marbling on Sashi Beef

Sashi Beef

Sashi is generally produced from Holstein and Ayrshire cattle that roam free on the wide-stretched grass fields of Denmark, Finland and Poland. Optimal climate conditions and great nurturing result in the production of top-level quality beef.

Sashi Beef actually doesn’t refer to a particular beef brand or breed. Instead, it is a quality mark a particular steak must achieve. Right after slaughter, there will be assessed if the produced steaks are worthy of carrying the prestigious ‘Sashi’ name. The assessment is very parallel to the Wagyu and Kobe beef grading procedure. In general, Sashi beef marbling scores equal to grade 7-8 Wagyu-Kobe beef. Already excited? We are!

When examining the steak visually, the amount of intramuscular fat is an immediate eye-catcher. In terms of texture and tenderness while tasting, one will experience a silky-smooth sensation that is quite comparable to Japanese A5 Wagyu. When talking about the flavor palate, Sashi beef leans slightly more towards the beefy side, while Japanese A5 Wagyu generally leans more towards the juicy, buttery and fatty side.

 John Nielsen with Sashi Beef receiving the World Steak Challenge gold medal

The conclusion

Visually and taste-wise, there are multiple parallels between the rising star of Northern Europe and its Japanese peers. While it may seem that its Japanese counterparts are still ahead in the marbling race, Sashi beef counts as a serious contender in the overall competition.

Related to your subjective preferences, Sashi Beef might just be the perfect steak for you in terms of taste, texture and overall meat experience. Either way, the quick rise of our Northern star opens up perspectives for the future of European steaks. If you’re a dedicated meat lover, be sure to try this piece yourself!

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