Move aside, Wagyu! As discerning carnivores diverge from the former favourite, fatty Japanese wagyu beef in favour healthier options.
Grass-fed, free-range and antibiotic-free beef has a clear demand against its fattier, mass-produced wagyu and angus counterparts. And there is a rising category of environmentally minded carnivores who moon(n) over the healthier and leaner options, if given a choice. Here is a guide of where to buy grass-fed beef in Hong Kong:
Spainish Galician Blond (Rubia Gallega)
Northwestern Spain is home to one of the best quality cattle in the nation, and perhaps the world. Galician Blond, otherwise known as Rubia Gallega, is a breed nicked named “Fat Old Cows” for reasons that may be more appealing than it sounds. Raised on free-range pasture and are left to graze the abundant green lands for 15 years longer than the usual one to five years, the meat is much leaner than the more popular wagyu beef. Rather than boasting rich marbling like the more popular Wagyu, its fame, instead, derives from its mouth-watering flavour after it has been dry-aged and slow-cooked over a flattop, which is typically how it is done in Spain. The meat is 100% grass-fed and hormone-free, comes out surprisingly tender with a subtle smoky flavour that makes this a standout option.
French Côte de Boeuf
Ever wondered how much the most expensive beef costs? Kobe might be one of the most sought after meats in the market, it’s the French Côte de Boeuf that holds the honoury title of raising the most expensive beef in the world, specifically the Blonde d‘Aquitaine. Priced at US$3,200, the vintage — yes, vintage — dry aged rib steak is a richly flavoured and delicate piece of dry aged meat from a breed of cattle that are raised exclusively by the Polmard Francois Butchery’s family farm in Saint Mihiel in Northwestern France.
Cows are on a grass-only diet in large farms and no more than four are slaughtered every week. Now that’s what we call ultra-exclusive and rare. Globally, under strict guidelines only a handful of chefs are allowed to prepare this special steak, and just a few with unparalleled prowess have been granted the privilege of cooking this particular Côte de Boeuf – Hong Kong’s Chef Fabrice Vulin from Caprice is one of them.
New Zealand Friesian crossbreds
Early Polynesian settlers coined this island country Aotearoa, ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. With idyllic glaciers, magnificent rugged mountains, and vast plains of rolling hillsides, there might be no better home for some of the healthiest beef cattle in the world. Although New Zealand Friesian breeds were initially used for dairy production, 43% of the region’s cattle are now comprised of crossbreeds for meat production.
Raising in ranks, as it contends against its neighboring Australian Wagyu beef, it enjoys the reputation for being a healthier free-range and grass-fed option for health conscious diners. Its cattle enjoy an abundance of large-scale, green pasture to feed on all year round, leading a 100% grass-fed, GMO/hormone/antibiotic-free diet.
Argentinean Las Pampas
If you’re a sucker for porterhouse and ribeye steaks, there is a beef type that is worth the hype. Argentinean steaks are one of the leading beef options in the market, gracing the plates of some of the best steakhouses in the city. Though the country boasts different breeds of cows, cattle raised in Las Pampas where the cows indulge grazing over 750,000 sq.km of mostly flat grassland all day are widely known for being incomparably tender and richly flavoured, even without having to be seasoned with anything other than salt.
Putting quality and flavour ahead of production, the cows are not rushed to fatten with altered diet and hormones like their American or Canadian counterparts. This gives the meat more time to develop a rich flavour and healthier body of fat that does not pose a high risk of cholesterol and heart issues, of course if eaten in moderation.
Originating in Northwestern Italy over a century ago, Piedmontese is being billed as the Italian Wagyu, but with a more consistent and leaner edibility. It is an ancient breed with ancestral roots that can be traced back 25,000 years to Zebu (or Brahman) cattle from tropical South Asian countries such as India and Pakistan, before the herd migrated to Europe, making its stop just before the Alpine boarders at the valleys of the Piedmont region. Fresh green heaven as it might have seemed to these oxen, it eventually mingled with the native Auroch breed, evolving over time into the unique white Piedmontese that it is known for today.
Built with a solid frame thanks to a genetic code that allows them to effortlessly increase muscle growth by 14% more than the average cattle, lean and tender, this meat is truly one for savouring. Miniscule in fat content, this juicy, pristine quality meat might just make it the next big red meat to take over the global market.