What is Hanwoo Beef ?
The Hanwoo (한우), is a breed of small cattle indigenous to Korea. This breed is raised mainly for meat and is the source of Hanwoo beef, one of the most rare and expensive meats in the world. Coveted for its high marbling, this beef is preferred in Korean cuisine despite its high price, as it is typically fresher and regarded as premium beef thanks to its high palatability and desired chewiness.
Hanwoo Beef vs. Wagyu
Many of those who had the chance to taste Hanwoo has claimed it is just as good as the Japanese Wagyu. As the Japanese Wagyu cattle are the offspring of Korean Hanwoo, you can find the taste to be similar to Wagyu, but with a beefier taste. This is because Hanwoo contains less fat when compared to Wagyu. Take a ribeye, for example. A Wagyu ribeye has roughly 70% fat, whereas Hanwoo ribeye has anywhere from 40% to 50% fat, with the remainder being protein. This unique fat-to-protein ratio of the it gives it a distinct taste as the fat on Hanwoo is just enough to not overpower the taste of beef itself. Hanwoo is perfect for someone who wants something less beefy than U.S. beef but at the same time not as fatty as Wagyu. For many, Hanwoo perfectly combines the best quality of Wagyu and U.S. beef.
Diet-wise, most Hanwoo cattle, just like Wagyu, are fed beer-enriched feed. The alcohol is thought to help the beef maintain a juicy texture. Although both Wagyu and Hanwoo rely on a grain diet, the former consumes more corn whereas the latter consumes more oats.
Hanwoo is rarely exported due to demand at home, only recently did Hong Kong receive the approval to serve Hanwoo. “It’s a very special breed because it takes a long time to get consistent cattle,” explains associate director Andrew Lee Chi-ho of the first firm in Hong Kong to import Hanwoo beef. “It takes five to 10 generations, 15 to 30 years, to get consistent marbling, flavour and good structure.”
Unlike the practices in the U.S., Korea gives very special attention to each cattle. Each cattle has its own electronic ID registered in the national database which details the care, shots received, and treatment history of each animal.
After thorough consideration, Kim’C Market picked Sulsung Farm as our Korean Hanwoo producer for our customers in the U.S. Sulsung Farm is located in Hoengseong County, best known for its Hanwoo cattle, where the environment is well-suited for cattle farming. Unlike other farms, Sulsung’s cattle have balanced marbling as they are raised on pasture and eat healthy grains. Roaming free on large land, dining well under the care of experienced management, science shows the cattle at Sulsung Farm have low stress levels, resulting in happy cattle.
Sulsung is one of the two farms that Hyundai Department Store (현대백화점), a highly selective curator, picked as its supplier. Orga (올가), the most prominent organic food retailer chain in Korea, recognized Sulsung’s animal well-being program. Sulsung Hanwoo are given no antibiotics or hormone shots, ever.