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Strips of Thai crying tiger steak on a bowl of sticky rice.

Thai Crying Tiger Steak

  • Author: Asha
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes (plus marinade time)
  • Yield: 2-4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main dish
  • Cuisine: Thai


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

1/4 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)

1/2 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 PowderI 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

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