Wagyu Cooking Tips from Sacajawea’s Executive Chef

Executive Chef Matt Israel serves up beginner tips for cooking Wagyu at home. Quality cuts deserve quality care. 

The Sacajawea Hotel, located in Three Forks, Montana, is home to one of the region’s most popular and finest steakhouses -- Pompey’s Grill.

At Pompey’s, Executive Chef Matt Israel and his culinary team focus on cooking with high quality ingredients and Montana products whenever possible. This often means they’re cooking Wagyu.

Well-versed in the art of cooking with prime grade meats, Chef Matt offered to share a few beginner tips on cooking with Wagyu.

1. Bring your meat to room temperature.

Prior to cooking, take your beef out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature. A super cold steak won’t cook evenly.

2. Quality meat deserves quality seasoning.

According to Chef Matt, you should start with a good quality salt.

“Don't use a high quality meat with table salt,” he says. "At a minimum, you should be using something like Morton’s Kosher Salt and go up from there with a Sel gris, or good quality coarse ground salt. You'll be able to season more consistently with a higher grade and get a better outcome."

After using salt, you can season with whatever your preference may be. Just remember that if you're cooking with a high quality cut, you’ll want to be able to taste the flavor of the beef and enjoy it for what it is.

3. Use an Internal Thermometer.

Having a good digital internal read thermometer is key to making sure the final product is cooked properly.

With other cuts of meat, you cook it, and it will start bleeding at a certain temperature, and that is usually an indicator of whether it’s rare, medium rare, and so forth. Wagyu beef, on the other hand, bleeds sooner because it’s the fat leaking out -- not the blood. For this reason, having an internal monitor is essential. 

4. Aim for Medium Rare

Chef Matt recommends cooking your Wagyu steaks medium rare. If you prefer your steaks a little less red, then shoot for medium. Anything over medium is going to cook out the fat content, and consequently the flavor.

“At that point, you have an overcooked steak that becomes more ordinary and far less extraordinary,” Chef Matt says. 

5. Let it rest.

Resting the meat at room temperature before cutting it allows the meat to reach its optimum temperature. This helps lock in the juices and also retains that good fat content that the Wagyu beef is known for.

Good taste takes time.

Chef Matt says cooking a premium cut of meat is no more difficult than cooking an average one -- not even a little bit.

However, he does encourage folks to always pay attention to the cooking method, as different cuts should be cooked differently. This means allowing yourself time to properly cook the meat while also paying close attention to what you’re doing and how the meat’s responding.

For tips on how to cook specific cuts of meat, visit our shop page now.