Disclaimer: No tigers were brought to tears in the making of this recipe. Thai crying tiger steak (seua rong haï), also known as weeping tiger beef, is a dish that comes to us from northeastern Thailand. I've heard many explanations of the origin of the name of this dish, however, it seems that no one really knows for sure. One story is that the dish is so tasty that it can bring a tiger to tears. Another is that it is so spicy that it will make you yowl like a tiger.
Fortunately, the amount of spice in this dish is completely adjustable. I've toned it down so that it is still spicy but not overpowering. You can adjust it more to suit your preferences as well. This dish has a wonderful balance of spicy, sweet, and sour. It will quickly become a family favourite!
What is Crying Tiger Sauce
Crying tiger sauce (nam jim jaew) is an amazing combination of spicy, sweet, and sour. The tender, marinated and grilled steak slices taste so amazing dipped in it. Key components in this sauce are fish sauce, lime juice, chilli flakes, palm sugar, tamarind, and toasted rice powder. I brighten it with the addition of freshly chopped shallots, coriander, and green onion.
- Sirloin Steaks
- Soy sauce
- Fish sauce
- Freshly squeezed lime juice
- Vegetable oil
- Palm sugar
- Black pepper
- Tamarind concentrate
- Crushed red chilli flakes
- Toasted rice Powder
See the recipe card below for quantities.
What is Toasted Rice Powder
Toasted rice powder (or roasted rice powder) is dry, Thai sticky rice that was toasted and then ground down into a powder. It adds a nutty flavour and also serves to thicken the sauce. I was able to find it at an Asian market as well as on Amazon, but you could make your own. See the note in the recipe card for instructions.
If you use buy a coarse version I recommend using a mortar and pestle or a food processor to grind it down into a fine powder for this recipe. Also, I've heard that toasted, ground cashews make a good substitute.
For this dish, sirloin is often used. However, you can use most kinds of steaks (sirloin, skirt, flank, etc.). What's important is that you find cuts that have minimal 'interruptions' of gristle in the meat. Trim the sides to clean the meat.
Next, prepare the marinade by mixing all of the marinade ingredients together.
Add both the marinade and the steaks into a large ziplock bag. Remove as much air as possible and massage the bag to ensure that the steaks are coated. Place the bag into the fridge for three hours to marinate. If you happen to be around, flip the bag over at the half way point.
After the three hours, remove the bag from the from the fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour before grilling. Dispose of the leftover marinade.
Crying Tiger Sauce
This sauce is very easy to make. Mix the fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, tamarind paste, and chilli flakes together and stir well until the sugar dissolves. Just before you are ready to serve, stir in the toasted rice powder, shallots, cilantro, and green onion.
Oil and heat your grill or grill pan to high heat. As soon as it starts to smoke, add the steaks and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the steaks to your desired doneness. Medium-rare is recommended for this dish. For medium-rare doneness, remove the steaks from the grill when your meat thermometer reads an internal temperature of about 135-140°F (57-60°C), as they will still continue to cook a little bit more.
After the steaks are cooked, set them aside and allow them to rest for ten minutes. This time will allow your steaks to become juicier. After they have rested, cut the steaks into very thin pieces against the grain. Thinner is better.
The traditional and, deservingly so, most popular accompaniment for crying tiger steak is sticky rice (also known as sweet rice or glutinous rice). They are so perfect together - I highly recommend making some. You can find it at Asian markets. Sticky rice be should soaked for twelve hours before cooking for best results. However, if you don't have time for that you can just soak it for a minimum of thirty minutes.
I washed the rice thoroughly, then let it soak in cold water and covered to soften the hard shells on the rice grains. I then rinsed the rice again and prepared it in my Zojirushi rice cooker on the setting for 'sweet rice.'
Serve the crying tiger dipping sauce and sticky rice in individual serving bowls.
The palm sugar in this recipe can be substituted with brown sugar or raw sugar.
Tamarind concentrate can be substituted with tamarind paste, but the paste is more intense so start with a much smaller amount and add more if needed.
If anyone doesn't like cilantro (I know you're out there), you can omit it from this recipe.
I prepared the sticky rice in my Zojirushi rice cooker. I really like this brand. The quality of their products is wonderful and my rice comes out perfect every time. And I grilled my steaks using my trusty Griddler.
You will also need a very sharp knife for slicing the steaks thinly. I highly recommend looking into purchasing a high quality Japanese knife. There is nothing better in the kitchen.
If you have any leftover steak, you can store it an in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three to four days. The leftovers make an absolutely delicious addition to the next day's lunch salad.
Interested in another fantastic steak recipe? Everyone loves my Umami Orange Steak. It is bursting with fresh orange and delightful Asian flavours. Or, for another wonderful Thai dish, try the flavourful basil beef stir fry.Print
This delicious beef dish from northeastern Thailand has a wonderful balance of spicy, sweet, and sour flavours. The tender strips of marinated steak are dipped into amazing crying tiger sauce. Enjoy it with a bowl of warm sticky rice.
2 sirloin steaks (7 ounces / 200 g each; most other cuts of steak are fine)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon palm sugar *
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Crying Tiger Sauce:
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon palm sugar
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate **
2 teaspoons crushed red chilli flakes (or, to taste)
½ teaspoon toasted rice powder ***
1 tablespoon shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon green onion, finely chopped
Trim gristle and fat off of the side of the steaks (try to use steaks with minimal gristle 'interruptions' on the inside).
Mix all marinade ingredients together and stir until sugar has dissolved.
Place both marinade and the steaks (in one layer) in large ziplock bag. Remove as much air as possible, and massage the bag to coat the steaks. Marinate in the fridge for 3 hours. If you can, flip the bag over at the halfway point. After the 3 hours, remove the bag from the fridge and set it out to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Rice: If you are serving with sticky rice, at this point it will have already soaked for 12 hours (or just 30 minutes, if you are short on time) and can now be cooked while the steak sits at room temperature (see sticky rice notes in article above) .
Preheat and oil your grill or grill pan to high (450°F/230°C). As soon as you start to see smoke, place the steaks on the grill and reduce the heat to medium (350°F/177°C). All leftover steak marinade can be disposed. Cook time will vary depending on the thickness of your steaks. The recommended doneness for this dish is medium-rare, so cook both sides until this or your desired doneness is achieved. For medium-rare, remove the steaks from the grill when your meat thermometer reads about 135-140°F (57-60°C). They will continue to cook a bit more even off the grill. Allow the steaks to rest for 10 minutes.
While the steaks are grilling, you can begin to mix all of the crying tiger sauce ingredients together, except for the toasted rice powder and freshly chopped onions and herbs. Stir those in just before serving.
Once the steak has rested, cut it into very thin slices against the grain (cutting this way will tenderize the meat). Assemble them onto a serving plate, and serve with individual servings bowls of rice and crying tiger sauce.
* Palm sugar can be substituted with light brown sugar.
** Tamarind concentrate can be substituted with tamarind paste, but the paste is more intense so start with a much smaller amount and add more if needed. Tamarind is a popular ingredient in southeast Asian cuisine. I found it at an Asian market. Tamarind has a sweet and tart flavour.
*** Toasted Rice Powder: I found toasted rice powder in an Asian market and on Amazon, but you can make your own. Add some dry Thai sticky rice to a stainless steel skillet and heat it over medium heat. Shake frequently to move the rice around, all the while keeping it in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. If the rice begins to burn, reduce heat to medium-low. The rice should turn a golden brown after about 10 minutes. If you want a more intense nutty flavour and popcorn smell in your toasted rice powder, continue cooking while shaking frequently for another 15 minutes. Transfer the rice into a baking pan and allow it to cool to room temperature. Then grind it with a mortar and pestle, a spice grinder, or a food processor. Sift it through a fine mesh strainer to remove everything but the powder. You can store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months. (If you buy a version that is a coarse grind rather than a powder, I recommend turning it into a fine powder for this recipe.)
- Serving Size: as part of a meal
- Calories: 165
- Sugar: 6.1 g
- Sodium: 1262.1 mg
- Fat: 4.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 9.1 g
- Protein: 23.5 g
- Cholesterol: 58.6 mg
Keywords: Thai crying tiger steak