Tiger Meat … Wait, What?
A bizarre local delicacy that is not for everyone
Many people around here can’t wait for a party just so they can serve and eat tiger meat. Why raw beef with raw egg is called tiger meat in these parts remains a mystery. The dish/dip/appetizer is very dangerous due to the raw ingredients and all federal and state food agencies strongly encourage people not to eat it. All risk aside, tiger meat is definitely a Midwest delicacy, in fact it’s not really found in many parts of the country. For whatever reason, we love it here.
According to Glen Aipperspach, a former Aberdonian who ran a meat market known for German-style meats, he believes tiger meat is nothing more than steak tartare, distilled down into simpler flavors befitting of the Midwest pallet. His parents owned a grocery store near Lincoln school in the 60s and 70s and on any given Saturday would make and distribute 20-30 pounds of tiger meat to Aberdeen bars.
Historically, steak tartare is raw ground beef or horse, mixed with minced onions, raw egg, capers, pickles, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard and seasonings. Historians argue it was named after the Tartar conquerors who introduced raw meat to the Russians in Germany, while others contend it means “with tartar” as in raw meat with tartar sauce. In any case, it came to the U.S. via Germans, Russians, or the French. Ultimately steak tartare was fried up in Hamburg, Germany, creating the hamburger.
Everything about tiger meat doesn’t make sense. The health risk is severe, although we don’t hear a lot about people getting sick. According to Glen and many online sources it’s best to consume it within two days. We have provided a recipe here because if all the health organizations are correct, you shouldn’t even risk transporting tiger meat to your home from a store without a cooler in your shopping cart. Several places around town sell it in their meat departments (without the eggs) with ample fans supporting their favorite. But so many questions remain. How fresh is it? How fresh is the beef; the eggs? To help reduce the risk, ask the folks behind the counter or make it yourself and eliminate the mystery. // –Troy McQuillen
-1 pound of trimmed beef
Do NOT buy ground beef or hamburger! Fat develops e-coli and goes rancid quickly, and will create a pastier texture. Use lean cuts of meat like sirloin or round, with all the fat trimmed away. Venison and buffalo would make for even leaner alternatives. Keep it cold, and don’t get it out until you’re ready to grind.
Assuming your favorite grocery store stocks the freshest eggs possible, go for that, or find someone with a chicken coop and stand by the ready for a really fresh egg.
-1/4 cup finely minced onion
-Salt and pepper to taste
Some Assembly Required
- Grind the feef in a meat grinder with a fine blade. (Prior to grinding your beef, place your grinder parts in the freezer so that they don’t transfer warmth to the meat while you grind.)
- You can salt and pepper the beef at this point prior to going into the grinder. It is customary to grind meat twice, so grind it up again.
- Mix in the onions and the egg.
- Chill immediately for 12 hours prior to consuming. The salt will cause the meat to turn brown, which is perfectly normal.
- Simply it, then add anything you like to spice it up.
- To serve, for it like a meat loaf on a plate or dish it into a bowl, on top of a bed of ice. It must remain cold at all times. Beware of piling to too high where the top is too far from the ice. Spread onto saltines or your cracker of choice.
OPTIONAL Some folks add green pepper and a host of other spices and hot sauces. But it seem those would obscure the actual taste of the raw beef, which seems to be the only point of consuming something like this, so why bother?
Due to the potential health risks associated with eating raw eggs and meat, prepare and consume at your own risk.
Cook’s Note: I am not a fan of tiger meat. I added a pound of regular ground beef to my tiger meat prepared for this recipe, made patties and fried them up. The resulting burgers are incredibly moist and delicious.