One of the reasons why Wagyu beef is so expensive is due to the way the cows are raised compared to “regular” cows. The care and attention paid to these special breeds usually results in meat that is rich in fat and marbled throughout, creating a very soft and melt-in-your-mouth texture when cooked.
It is this texture and taste of the fat that is so prized in Wagyu, but over at Osaka University, researchers have managed to use 3D bioprinting to 3D print Wagyu “beef”. Obviously this isn’t actual meat from a cow, but rather it is made using stem cells isolated from Wagyu cows that results in a synthetic piece of meat that looks like the real deal.
How they managed to achieve that was by fabricating the individual fibers, such as the muscle, fat, and blood vessels, through bioprinting. They were later arranged in 3D following the histological structure to help mimic the structure of real Wagyu. According to one of the researchers, Michiya Matsusaki, this process means that it is possible to “customize” the “meat” where you could choose your desired amount of fat, which in theory could create “healthier” versions of Wagyu.
“By improving this technology, it will be possible to not only reproduce complex meat structures, such as the beautiful sashi of Wagyu beef, but to also make subtle adjustments to the fat and muscle components.” We can’t speak to the taste of the meat and how close it is to actual Wagyu, but other companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have created plant-based burger patties in the past, which some claim tastes very close to the real thing.