How to make Crying Tiger Steak, a Thai grilled steak served with a spicy, tangy and sweet dipping sauce.
With a name like Crying Tiger Steak (suea rong hai), you’d expect a fancy, complicated dish… Not at all! There are two components to the dish; a seasoned beef steak, and a deliciously spicy, sweet and sour sauce.
What is Crying Tiger Steak?
Crying Tiger or Weeping Tiger is a Thai grilled meat dish. Originating from Northern Thailand, this Isaan dish is traditionally made with brisket. These days you’d find it more commonly made with steak.
I believe it’s named so for the sauce that’s served with it, Nam Jim Jaew. This is a sweet and tangy dipping sauce that is so spicy – that it makes tigers cry. Other theories include the meat used is so marbly and delicious, that tigers cry because it gets the other tougher scrap parts.
The Crying Tiger I’m familiar with are done a couple of ways. A marinated steak grilled, or a thinner piece of marbled beef grilled over a charcoal stove. Both are served with that deliciously spicy sauce.
I saw restaurants (outside of Thailand) serving this as a salad and it just does not seem right to me!
What Cut to use for Crying Tiger Steak?
I like to use Sirloin, but you can use any steak cut of choice. You want a good cut with a nice, beefy flavour. Since we are adding seasoning, I wouldn’t use the most expensive, fancy cuts at all – so keep that wagyu.
I’ve also actually enjoyed using flank steak to make this, with delicious results! Flank is a lot more lean. Make sure you cut the flank steak against the grain, and in thin slices for a more tender chew.
The seasonings use are super simple. You need just oyster sauce, fish sauce and brown sugar. These will help the surface of the steak caramelise while adding those Asian flavours. I’m adding dark soy sauce, or kicap manis here, because I love that added char to the steak.
There is no need to marinade this at all! We want very subtle flavours, so that the delicious beefy flavours can truly shine.
The Nam Jim Jaew Sauce that makes Tigers Cry!
The sauce is so easy to make! All you do is combine the ingredients together, and we are good to go.
The key ingredients are Tamarind, Palm Sugar or brown sugar, and fish sauce. Of course, you cannot forget the spicy chilli powder. Want an even spicier bite in your Nam Jim Jaew? Use Thai Bird’s Eye Chillies instead.
I have a dedicated Nam Jim Jaew sauce right here, including how to make that Khao Kua or toasted rice powder. It’s a lot easier than you think. If you do not want to make khao kua, then simply omit. Khao kua is a staple in my pantry – I make a big batch at one go – so I personally cannot do without the nice nuttiness it adds to the sauce.
What else to Serve this With?
Before serving, squeeze some lime over the steak! I also like to serve this with lettuce. After dipping the steak into the sauce, I would wrap it in the lettuce and eat it! I love the fresh delicious crunch.
Want a complete meal? Serve this with Thai Sticky or Glutinous Rice – i consider this important to help temper some of the spice – and Thai Papaya Salad or Som Tum.
More recipes like this:
- Thai ‘Gai Yang’ Oven Roasted Chicken
- Pad Phet Gai | Thai Spicy Chicken Stir Fry
- Yum Mama | Thai Instant Noodle Salad
Crying Tiger Beef SteakCourse: Recipes
250g Sirloin Steak
1 tsp Oyster Sauce
1 tsp Fish Sauce
1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp Brown Sugar
Ground Black Pepper
- Nam Jim Jaew Sauce
1 tbsp Palm Sugar or Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Fish Sauce
1 tbsp Tamarind Paste
1/2 tsp Thai Chilli Flakes
1 tsp Toasted Rice Powder or Khao Kua
1 tsp Lime Juice
2-3 tbsps Water
A handful of Cilantro
- Cooking the Steak
- Combine oyster sauce, fish sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar and ground black pepper. Coat steak with this marinade.
- Add oil to a pan and use medium high to high heat. Once hot, gently add steak. Allow to cook undisturbed on one side before flipping to other side to finish cooking. Cook until desired doneness and remove from pan.
- Allow steak to rest for about 10 minutes, before slicing.
- Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the Nam Jim Jaew sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning to preference.
- Option to squeeze fresh lime juice over steak. Dip sliced steak into sauce and eat!