US and Japan have their own grading scales for this prized beef. USDA prime would score at most a 5 or 6 on the 12 point beef marbling scale (BMS). The other scale ranges from C1 to A5. The highest rated A5 BMS 12 Kobe beef is: mostly white with flecks of pink meat, is $1,200 a pound and takes 4 to 6 weeks for delivery in the United States.
We won't be cooking with that. And to tell the truth, it would be a waste to make burgers from such a rare selection of meat. Instead, we recommend finding a local supplier who can provide a better value for something not so insanely marbled. There are several Wagyu beef suppliers in the Midwest, including Morgan Ranch in Burwell, Nebraska.
Morgan Ranch supplied us with a generous donation to raise money in support of the Menu for Hope IV in 2007 and the Menu for Hope V in 2008. We encourage you to check them out. As a bonus, Dan Morgan frequently makes trips to Omaha, so if you call them up, you might be able to arrange a pick up of your order while he's here to avoid paying shipping charges.
In preparing for this article, I emailed Dan at Morgan Ranch to get some recommendations for prepping and cooking Wagyu. Most of his suggestions will be obvious to foodies such as don't get in the way of the product by masking the flavors with lots of herbs or rubs. Also, try to let the meat get as close to room temperature as possible before cooking. At this temp the meat is ready to cook and relaxes as compared to shrinking up and condensing. Remember, the melting point of the fat and lipids in Wagyu is much lower when compared to your standard beef. The one tip that surprised me a little was his recommendation to sprinkle some sugar on leaner cuts, such as sirloin and ground beef. This brings out the sweetness in the meat and also creates a glaze on the meat. Great idea.
With that, I don't really have a recipe for Kobe Burgers. I'm kind of a purist and think that salt, pepper (and a little sugar) is all you really need. Get some nice toasted buns and you're good to go. Maybe get a little fancy with some caramelized onions, garlic aoili, crisp bitter lettuce greens, heirloom tomatoes and toasted brioche.
But that's probably not what you wanted to hear, so I've gathered up some recipes, but I also encourage you to leave your own recipe in the comment section below. To get your mind churning, check out these recipes from famous chefs around the world.
Kobe Burger Recipes
Kobe burger from chef Michael Mina of Stonehill TavernI'm sure Michael Mina has about a dozen kobe burger recipes from his about a dozen other restaurants. But this one sounds excellent. A decedent Kobe burger with truffle brioche buns, pickled onions, oven-dried tomatoes, truffle aioli. Recipe for Stonehill Tavern Kobe burger
Kobe Bleu Cheese Mini-Burgers with Cipollini Onions in Balsamic Reduction by Robert IrvineFrom "The Catwalk Chef" episode of Dinner: Impossible. I've seen several recipes call for Bleu Cheese, but I'd be afraid it would over power the burger. Could be good though. Recipe for Kobe Bleu Cheese Mini-Burgers
DB Burger by Daniel Boulud from DB Bistro ModerneThis burger has become famous. Some argue this burger started the gourmet burger craze that started several years back. "The DB Burger is composed of an exterior of ground sirloin with a filling of boned short ribs braised in red wine, foie gras, black truffle and a mirepoix of root vegetables. The homemade bun is topped with toasted parmesan and layered with fresh horseradish mayonnaise, tomato confit, fresh tomato and frisée lettuce." At about $27, this was one of the most expensive burgers on the market when it was introduced. Recipe for the DB Burger by Daniel Boulud
Chef Carol Wallack's Wagyu Burger of SolaThis was one of the entries in the Amstel Light Burger Bash hosted by Rachel Ray. I thought this was unique since it was served on a pretzel roll with cambazola cheese. Recipe for Carol Wallack's Wagyu Burger
Mini Prime Burgers with Remoulade and Aged Cheddar Cheese by Wolfgang PuckA pretty basic burger actually that relies on a Remoulade Sauce to bring some major flavor to the party. Like a refined slider. Recipe for Mini Prime Burgers with Remoulade and Aged Cheddar Cheese by Wolfgang Puck
Wagyu Burger from chef Justin North at Plan B in AustraliaAn entry from down under. This is one of the most unusual recipes as it calls for Madeira, pickled beetroot, and a binding filler of an egg with breadcrumbs. No judgment here though. It was good enough that someone wrote to Australian Gourmet Traveller to ask them to obtain the recipe. Recipe for the Wagyu Burger at Plan B in Australia
Hamburger CookbooksI couldn't find recipes online for these last two, but they are both a little iconic, so I felt I should include them.
Burger Bar: Build Your Own Ultimate Burgers by Hubert KellerDaniel Boulud may have started the expensive burger trend, but Hubert Keller has seemed to have trumped all efforts at least for the moment - well, kind of. The FleurBurger 5000 is really only $75, but if you want to do it up right, you order it how it was intended to be ordered, for $5,000 with a bottle of 1990 Chateau Pétrus. The burger itself is, of course, a Kobe beef burger, served with truffles and foie gras and topped with a smoked onion and walnut bun. Sounds pretty darn tasty to me. There is a more economical version of the FleurBurger 5000 in Keller's Burger Bar book. Buy the Burger Bar: Build Your Own Ultimate Burgers cookbook by Hubert Keller
Bistro Laurent Tourondel: New American Bistro Cooking
If you're still looking for more inspiration, check out this Burger Bonaza article and the other most expensive burgers in the world.
And don't forget to share with us your ideas, recipes and results!