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

Thai Crying Tiger Steak

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 31 reviews
  • 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 Thai crying tiger steak 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 / 200g each; most other cuts of steak are fine)

Cooked sticky rice, for serving


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).

Next, prepare the marinade by mixing all of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until the 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, flipping the bag over at the halfway point.

Remove the bag from the fridge and set it out to rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Dispose of the leftover marinade.

Sticky rice: If you are serving with sticky rice, at this point it will have already been washed and soaked for 12 hours (or as little as 30 minutes, if you are short on time), and can now be cooked while the steak sits at room temperature.

Oil and heat your grill or grill pan to high heat (450°F/230°C). As soon as it starts to smoke, add the steaks and reduce the heat to medium (350°F/177°C). Cook the steaks to medium-rare. 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 continue to cook a bit more.

Set them aside and allow them to rest for 10 minutes. This resting time will make your steaks juicier.

Crying tiger sauce: While the steaks are resting, make the crying tiger sauce. Mix the fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, tamarind paste, and chilli flakes together and stir well until the sugar dissolves. Wait to stir in the toasted rice powder, shallots, cilantro, and green onion until just before you are ready to serve.

Once the steaks have rested, cut them 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 sticky rice and crying tiger sauce.


To make your own toasted Rice Powder: 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.


  • 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
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