By Harold McGee
Japan prizes its shimofuri, or highly marbled beef, of which the best known comes from the Kobe region. Steers of the native Wagyu draft breed are slaughtered at 24–30 months. High-quality heifers (and some steers) are identified and then fattened for a further year or more on grain. (Currently Japan tests all meat cattle for BSE.) This process produces beef that is mature, flavorful, tender, and very rich, with as much as 40% marbling fat. The best cuts are usually sliced very thin, in 1.5–2 mm sheets, and simmered in broth for a few seconds in the one-pot dishes called sukiyaki and shabu shabu.