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Thai Crying Tiger Steak Recipe (Suea Rong Hai)

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This Thai crying tiger steak recipe, or suea rong hai, is perfect for your next summer backyard BBQ, blending easy grilling with bold authentic Thai flavors. The marinated beef and spicy crying tiger sauce will make your next family gathering unforgettable.

Thai crying tiger steak, suea rong hai, served with crying tiger sauce.

Enjoy this healthy Thai beef salad recipe with Thai sticky rice. If you’re hosting a party, check out my other Thai beef recipes like nam tok beef and ground beef larb for extra deliciousness on your table.

What is crying tiger beef

Crying tiger beef is a classic Thai dish from Isan, Northeastern Thailand. It’s known for its juicy, marinated beef slices grilled over charcoal and paired with a spicy crying tiger sauce, also known as nam jim jaew.

Why is it called crying tiger beef

Ever wondered why this salad is called crying tiger beef? I’ve asked everyone from village elders to the beef seller and my smart neighbor, but no one knows where it really came from. Here are the most interesting theories:

  1. It’s spicy enough to make a tiger cry: The crying tiger sauce is super spicy. It’s so hot, it could make even a tiger tear up!
  2. Tears from the grill: When you grill the beef, the fat melts and drips down, looking like a tiger’s tears.
  3. My niece’s story: My niece came up with a story of a man who cried because his steak was so good, but then a tiger ate him and started crying too.

What is crying tiger sauce

Crying tiger sauce is a spicy sour sweet Thai dipping sauce, made from chili, lime juice, fish sauce, and fresh herbs. In Thailand, it’s known as nam jim jaew and is typically paired with grilled meats like beef and pork.

Crying tiger sauce garnished with fresh herbs served in a clear bowl

Thai crying tiger steak

This Thai crying tiger recipe is perfect for a delicious, easy Thai beef dish. It’s made with simple Thai pantry staples and delivers a Thai restaurant worthy meal with little effort.

The beef is marinated in a blend of oyster sauce and golden mountain sauce, giving it a savory, umami-rich flavor. Balanced with palm sugar for a hint of sweetness and black peppercorns for a spicy kick, each bite is simply delicious.

Thai crying tiger beef and crying tiger sauce served.

Don’t forget making the crying tiger sauce, it’s a must that makes the smoky grilled beef even more delicious!

Northeastern Thailand (Isan)

This authentic Thai steak recipe comes from Isan, the Northeastern part of Thailand, where I first learned to make crying tiger as a child. Isan is a rural region known for its rice fields and markets filled with the strong scent of fish sauce. Here, we use lots of herbs and spices in our cooking, and Thai sticky rice is a staple food, like bread in the West.

Grilling is a big part of life in rural Thailand. We love charcoal grilling, and you can find gai yang, Thai grilled chicken, on every street corner. Our family gatherings often feature moo yang grilled pork and Thai grilled steak, with an ice-cold beer and Thai whiskey. You can find many of my family’s Thai grilling recipes on this Thai food blog!

Thai beef vendor slicing beef in her shop.
A local beef vendor in Isan, Northeastern Thailand, slicing beef in her shop.

In Isan, beef is a luxury for many people, usually bought at local food shops. We love unique dishes like Thai raw beef salad, and crying tiger beef is a favorite in my region. If you’re interested in learning more about the culture and recipes of Northeastern Thailand, check out my article on Issan Thai food recipes.

Crying tiger steak is popular in Laos too, where it’s called ‘ping sin nam tok’ and served with jeow bee, their version of crying tiger sauce.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Ingredients for Thai crying tiger steak labeled: raw beef, golden mountain sauce, palm sugar, garlic, black peppercorns, and oyster sauce.

Crying tiger marinade

  • Beef – Opt for marbled cuts of beef like sirloin or rib-eye, these are great for grilling. Filet mignon is less marbled but tender and lean. Skirt steak is thin and cooks quickly. Wagyu filet mignon has intense marbling and melts in your mouth.
  • Golden mountain sauce – This Thai soy sauce is popular in Thai cuisine for its savory, umami flavor.
  • Oyster sauce – This is a thick, salty sauce often used in Thai marinades and stir-fries.
  • Palm sugar – Palm sugar is preferred for its caramel-like sweetness with a richer flavor than white sugar and brown sugar.
  • Black peppercorns
  • Garlic

Crying tiger sauce

How to make crying tiger

Crying tiger steak marinade

Top-view of crying tiger marinade in a granite mortar.

Step 1: Crush garlic and black peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Mix in palm sugar, golden mountain sauce, and oyster sauce to make the beef marinade.

Marinated crying tiger steak in a clear bowl.

Step 2: Rub the marinade all over your steak and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour to soak up the flavors.

Crying tiger sauce

Top-view of crying tiger sauce in a clear bowl.

Step 3: Make the dipping sauce by mixing fish sauce, fresh lime juice, red pepper flakes, toasted rice powder, and in a small bowl. Garnish with some freshly chopped coriander.

Grill weeping tiger

Instructional steps for grilling crying tiger steak and slicing it into thin pieces.

Step 4: Grill the steak on a charcoal grill or in a grilling pan over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes each side, depending on how thick your steak is, to get it medium rare or as you like it. Let the steak rest a bit before cutting it into thin slices. Serve it with the crying tiger sauce. Enjoy!

Kitchenware

  1. Measuring spoons and cups
  2. Thai mortar and pestle
  3. Mixing bowls (for preparing the marinade and the dipping sauce)
  4. Charcoal grill or grill pan with tongs
  5. Knife and cutting board

Crying tiger recipe tips

  • Slice against the grain: Slice the steak against the grain to make it easier to chew.
  • Marinate for flavor: Give your weeping tiger beef some time in the marinade, between 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Choose the right cut: Aim for a steak with good marbling, like sirloin or rib-eye.
  • Rest after grilling: Once you’ve grilled the steak, let it rest for a few moments.
  • Experiment: Experiment with flavors and ingredients. Feel free to try a variation with dark soy sauce, tamarind paste, and fish sauce.
  • High heat: To get that awesome crust, grill your steak on high heat and aim for medium-rare. Just make sure not to overcook it.

How to serve suea rong hai

Serve your Thai crying tiger steak (suea rong hai) with Thai sticky rice (glutinous rice) or jasmine rice, and crying tiger sauce or your choice of spicy Thai dip from my collection of Thai dipping sauces. Add fresh vegetables like cucumbers, yard-long beans, and tomatoes.

In Isan, we enjoy communal eating. Gather around the table with friends and family and pair Thai crying tiger beef with dishes like som tum Thai or a minced pork omelette. It’s also great as a snack with Thai whiskey.

Weeping tiger storing and reheating

Storing: Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to three days. Let them cool to room temperature and keep the steak in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in plastic. The crying tiger sauce can be kept for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Reheating: Give the steak slices a quick sear on a grilling pan over each side until it’s warmed through. Use a cast iron skillet over medium heat if you don’t have a grilling pan.

Local Insider secret

When I went to buy Thai beef steak from our local vendor, she told me the best cuts sell out quickly. It’s really popular among the young people in our village, who meet up at midnight just to buy these juicy steaks. They enjoy it as a late-night snack, often with Thai whiskey or beer. And you won’t believe it, but some even eat it raw!

Frequently asked questions

What to serve with crying tiger beef?

Crying tiger beef is best served with Thai sticky rice and fresh vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes. Additionally, you can serve it as part of a larger meal with other Thai salads and grilled meats.

Can I use any cut of beef?

Traditionally, crying tiger is made with a tender cut that’s well marbled. Good options are sirloin or rib-eye. Avoid tough cuts and opt for a cut that’s suited for grilling.

Can I make this in advance?

For the best flavor, marinate the steak up to a day ahead. You can also prepare the dipping sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Cook the steak when you’re ready to serve for the freshest taste.

Authentic Thai beef recipes

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Thai Crying Tiger Steak Recipe (Suea Rong Hai)

Thai crying tiger steak, suea rong hai, served with crying tiger sauce.
This authentic Thai crying tiger steak recipe is full of traditional Thai flavors, complete with a crying tiger sauce you'll love.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course, Salad
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

Steak ingredients

  • 500 g beef (see notes)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 0.5 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 0.5 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden mountain sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoon oyster sauce

Crying tiger sauce ingredients

  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 0.5 tablespoon dried chili flakes
  • 0.5 tablespoon toasted rice powder

Instructions

  • Crush garlic and black peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Mix in palm sugar, golden mountain sauce, and oyster sauce to make the beef marinade.
  • Rub the marinade all over your steak and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour to soak up the flavors.
  • Make the dipping sauce by mixing fish sauce, fresh lime juice, red pepper flakes, toasted rice powder, and in a small bowl. Garnish with some freshly chopped coriander.
  • Grill the steak on a charcoal grill or in a grilling pan over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes each side, depending on how thick your steak is, to get it medium rare or as you like it. Let the steak rest a bit before cutting it into thin slices. Serve it with the crying tiger sauce. Enjoy!

Video

@hungryinthailand.com

Learn how to make Thai crying tiger steak now! Delicious charcoal-grilled beef, paired with a traditional tangy-spicy dipping sauce. https://hungryinthailand.com/recipe/crying-tiger-steak/ #thaifoodrecipe #thailand #เสือร้องไห้ย่าง #cryingtiger

♬ มักละเด้อนางน้อง - T-REX

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Beef - Opt for marbled cuts of beef like sirloin or rib-eye, these are great for grilling. Filet mignon is less marbled but tender and lean. Skirt steak is thin and cooks quickly. Wagyu filet mignon has intense marbling and melts in your mouth.
  • Slice the steak against the grain to make it easier to chew.

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