Dirk Ludwig, a master butcher from Schlüchtern in Hesse, says that he was given the contract to produce sausages from the beef – which costs between €300 and €500 per kilo – by a luxury restaurant.
“My first attempts were unappetizing,” Ludwig said.
He had to make several tries to find the right combination of spices and the secret ingredient – cane sugar – to produce bratwurst his mystery customers thought fit to grace their plates.
The master butcher says that he sells the sausages for around €30 each – but even those with a taste for luxury and the money to pay can't get them, as he's only producing them under contract.
'Missing the point'
“I personally find such a product is very regrettable,” Michael Böhnke, chef and meat expert at Berlin's Grill Royal restaurant – the first restaurant in Europe ever to obtain a license to serve Kobe beef – told The Local.
Cows destined to produce Kobe beef – a geographically-protected term like champagne – come from families that can be traced back for hundreds of years and are cared for in a way unimaginable to farmers used to Western mass-production methods, Böhnke explained.
The time farmers spend fattening up the cows and the special care taken over the husbandry makes for meat that's delicately marbled with fat and extremely tender.
“It has a special texture and a fine balance of taste between the fat and the meat,” Böhnke explained.
“If you make it into sausages, then all that would be destroyed. If you ask me, I'd say it's too bad. Of course you can do that, but you're totally missing the point.”
He argues that the real art of sausage making is in how the butcher chooses to combine the beef with spices and other ingredients – not how expensive the meat was in the first place.
Not the first
Ludwig isn't the first German to use Wagyu beef – an umbrella term covering a number of Japanese varieties including Kobe – in processed meat products.
There are plenty of trendy restaurants, especially in Berlin, that offer Wagyu beef burgers in pursuit of big-spending, luxury-hunting guests.
“Since there's only a very small supply on the market, it's very expensive,” Gero Jentzsch of the German Butchers' Association told DPA.
Experiments to try and tempt wealthy palates to table are nothing new among German butchers, he explains, thinking back to sausage sushi, chocolate sausage meat or pig's stomach pralines.
Ludwig himself has a history of playing with liquids, creating “aqua aged” meat by marinading it in carbonated water and attempting the same trick (unsuccessfully) with champagne.
He's also thought up a way to treat meat with beechwood ash and has fresh plans to create steaks in a coconut water marinade.