Marbled beef is one of the most luxurious, sought after products in cuisine. Like truffles and caviar, it comes with certain connotations of rich and rare flavour profiles. Only found in certain specialty suppliers and fine dining restaurants.
It’s the kind of dish that’s treasured all over the world, so there’s certainly something special about marbled beef.
Let’s take a closer look at what beef marbling is, why it’s so sought after, how it comes about, and how you can make the most of your marbled beef dining experience.
What is beef marbling?
Beef marbling is simply the flecks of fat you see in a piece of raw meat. This intramuscular fat can be found within sections of lean meat like a spiderweb, giving it that classic ‘marbled’ look – and its name.
Marbling is notably the intramuscular fat, which is very different from the intermuscular fat, which you can also see on a piece of raw beef. The intermuscular fat is found between different muscles. It is much, much thicker, and is typically trimmed off from the steak as it does not improve the dining experience.
Intramuscular fat occurs within the muscle, and this makes all the difference when it comes to the marbling of beef.
The marbling in beef is highly sought after, to the point where beef cuts are given a marble score to rate them.
What are marble scores?
A marble score is a rating given to any piece of beef to indicate how marbled it is. There are different rating systems in place overseas, but in Australia, the Beef Marble Score (BMS) system runs from 0 to 9.
Beef with a marbling score of 0 has zero marbling in it, and will appear as a rich red colour with no visible flecks of fat in the meat. Whereas meat with a marbling score of 9 has an abundant amount of intramuscular fat, and will appear so thickly marbled that there is more white than red.
You’ll often find this grading system mentioned on menus, so you know exactly what you’re getting when you order. You can expect that cuts of meat with more marbling will be more expensive than those with lower scores.
Why is marbling so sought after?
The amount of marbling in beef is so important because it has plays a large role in the tenderness, juiciness and flavour of the steak.
Higher marble scores, make the cut significantly softer and more tender.
As the steak cooks, the marbling melts into the steak, making it unbelievably juicy, with a texture so soft that it melts in your mouth. This releases all of the rich flavours in the steak immediately, creating an unbelievably delicious steak.
Marbling in beef is therefore highly popular around the world. Especially because it takes a number of specific conditions coming together to achieve high levels of beef marbling.
How is some beef more marbled than others?
There are three factors that determine just how marbled beef can be, all of which are managed very carefully by cattle farmers. These are the breed of cattle, environmental factors, and diet.
The breed of cattle has a large influence on how much marbling steak has. Breeds such as Wagyu and Kobe are renowned for their marbling as they are genetically predisposed to higher fat levels. That said, other cattle breeds are also capable of seeing high marbling scores, such as Prime Angus beef.
Environmental factors also play a role in the marbling of beef. This includes providing a stress-free life for the cattle, not requiring them to walk too much (which would build muscle and reduce fat), and keeping them healthy and vaccinated to reduce the chance of illness. There have been rumours that some breeders will go so far as to massage the cattle.
Finally, dietary factors play an important role in the level of marbling. Marbling is higher in grain-finished cattle, and those with more energy in their diet will express more marbling. It’s also important that the cattle have good nutrition early in life, as restrictions of illness will reduce marbling. It has been said that some farmers will even treat their cattle to sweets and other goodies.
Overall, when it comes to marbling, by the time that perfectly cooked, highly marbled steak reaches your plate, a huge amount of time and effort has gone into reaching that level of quality.
How you can make the most of your marbled beef dining experience
A highly marbled steak cooked by a top-rated chef in one of Sydney’s best restaurants will always be an incredible dining experience.
But there is one thing you can do to add that perfect cherry on top of your marbled beef meal, and that’s pairing it with a premium wine.
A well-bodied, silky smooth red wine will complement your meal, matching it in boldness and flavour, with the meat bringing out the best in the wine and vice versa.
Our sommeliers generally recommend Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Syrah, but be sure to take your own tastes into account and don’t be afraid to relay these to the 6HEAD team.
Reserve your table with 6HEAD to try our Wagyu beef and other marbled steaks for an unforgettable dining experience that will give you a new appreciation of just how tender, flavourful, and delicious a premium steak can be.