| | | | |

Nam Tok Beef Recipe (Thai Grilled Beef Salad)

This post may contain links to affiliate websites, such as Amazon, and I receive an affiliate commission for any purchases made by you using these links. I appreciate your support!

This nam tok beef recipe creates a delicious authentic Thai grilled beef salad with juicy steak, fresh herbs, and a sour spicy dressing. It’s perfect for a quick lunch or dinner, paired with Thai sticky rice and fresh vegetables.

Nam tok beef, a Thai grilled beef salad, served with Thai sticky rice and fresh vegetables.

Quick tip: You can easily adapt this nam tok recipe to use a different protein. For example, you can make nam tok moo, a version with pork. You can also pair this dish with other Thai beef salad recipes like crying tiger steak and yum neua.

Before we go over the ingredients and steps, I’d love to tell you why you definitely need to try this delicious salad!

What is nam tok

Nam tok is a classic Lao and Thai salad prepared with grilled meat, often pork or beef, fresh herbs, toasted rice powder, and a spicy dressing. It is commonly enjoyed in Isan, the northeastern region of Thailand.


In Thailand, this salad is called nam tok neua, nam tok nua, or neua nam tok.

What does nam tok mean

Nam tok means “waterfall” and neua means “beef.” In English, this salad is known as Thai waterfall salad. It is said that the term waterfall refers to the sound of the beef juices that fall onto open flames while grilling steak.

Nam tok beef salad

This spicy Thai beef salad recipe is perfect for those who like bold, authentic Thai flavors. Fans of grilled meat will love it, as the steak is grilled over charcoal or in a grilling pan, giving it a smoky flavor.

Unlike most Western salads that are primarily vegetable-based, this low-carb Thai meat salad consists of thin slices of grilled steak enriched with spicy chilies, fresh herbs, and a tasty dressing. It’s and delicious on its own, but is also often served as a side with other Thai dishes.

Close-up of nam tok neua, spicy Thai beef salad with a wooden fork, lifting a slice of beef.

Whether you serve beef nam tok for lunch or dinner, it’s always a hit. Don’t forget to add a side of fresh vegetables like Thai eggplant and yard long beans, just as we enjoy it in my family.

Isan Northeastern Thailand

Nam tok originated in Isan, where I was born and currently live. Waterfall beef salad is one of the tastiest salads from northeast Thailand. I love pairing it with other Isan classics like som tum Thai and Thai pork larb.

If you’ve ever tried Isan cuisine, you’ll know that sticky rice is eaten with everything. Traditionally, we eat with our hands, often sharing from the same plate.

Close-up of nam tok neua served on a black dish, garnished with fresh herbs and chilies.

Roll a ball of sticky rice, dip it in the dressing, and grab a slice of juicy, tender beef. Sharing food with friends and family is so important in Isan culture, and this nam tok beef recipe embraces that tradition.

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.


Top-view of nam tok beef ingredients with beef, lime, sauces and seasonings, and herbs.

Beef marinade

  • Beef – The best cut for beef nam tok is a tender cut. Sirloin steak or flank steak are both affordable and flavorful. Make sure to cut the steak against the grain. Additionally, you can use a cut with some fat to it for more flavor. Ribeye steak or wagyu beef are perfect.
  • Golden mountain sauce Golden mountain sauce is a popular Thai seasoning sauce used in Thai cuisine to enhance dishes with a salty, soy-like flavor.
  • Oyster sauce – Oyster sauce is used in Thai cooking for its rich, savory flavor. We use it in our marinades, stir-fries, and others
  • White sugar – A sprinkle of sugar balances out the flavors.
  • Garlic

Dressing

  • Toasted rice powder – Toasted rice powder, or khao khua, adds a crunchy note and slightly nutty flavor. You can make it yourself with glutinous rice and a mortar and pestle using my recipe for toasted rice powder, or get it online at Amazon.
  • Thai chili flakes – You can easily make Thai chili flakes yourself by crushing dried chilies with a mortar and pestle.
  • Fish sauce – Fish sauce is a salty, fermented condiment that adds umami and depth to many Thai recipes.
  • Shallots – Sliced thinly, they add a subtle sweetness and texture.
  • Limes – Fresh lime juice gives the dressing a tangy flavor.
  • Kaffir lime leaves – Thin strips of kaffir lime leaves add a citrus aroma. Stick to 2 makrut lime leaves to avoid overwhelming the flavor. Keep it balanced.
  • Green onions, mint leaves, culantro – You can use cilantro or coriander for a variation.

Short recipe video

How to make waterfall beef salad

Marinate beef

Step 1: Crush garlic with a mortar and pestle.

Step 2: Add crushed garlic, golden mountain sauce, oyster sauce, and white sugar to a large bowl. Stir the ingredients together until the sugar is fully dissolved.

Step 3: Add beef and coat it with the marinade mix. Marinate overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours.

Grill beef

Step 4: Grill beef on one side for approx 5–10 minutes, then flip and grill the other side. Medium rare is preferred.

Slicing beef for nam tok on a wooden cutting board.

Step 5: Let the cooked steak rest for about 5 minutes, then cut it into thin slices against the grain.

Mix with dressing

Step 6: In a mixing bowl, combine fish sauce, fresh lime juice, red pepper flakes, and toasted rice powder.

Step 7: Add sliced beef and mix well with the dressing.

Mixing grilled nam tok beef slices with fresh herbs, spices, and sauces in a glass bowl.

Step 8: Add remaining herbs and spices, gently mix and serve your nam tok beef salad immediately. Enjoy!

Kitchenware

  1. Thai mortar and pestle (for making chili powder and toasted rice powder)
  2. Charcoal grill or grilling pan
  3. Tongs for flipping
  4. Cutting board and a sharp knife
  5. Large mixing bowl (for tossing sliced beef with dressing)

What to serve with Thai waterfall salad

Thai sticky rice and jasmine rice are perfect with Thai beef nam tok, which also pairs well with dishes like beef pad Thai, chicken pad see ew, and larb gai salad. In Isan, it’s common to include fresh veggies like yardlong beans, Thai eggplants, chilies, and lettuce.

Leftover Thai grilled beef salad tips

To store leftovers of this nam tok salad recipe, let it cool to room temperature and place it in a sealed or airtight container in your refrigerator. It can be kept for up to 2 days. Keep in mind that the toasted rice powder in the steak salad acts as a thickener and absorbs flavors from the other ingredients, which is why it’s best enjoyed fresh.

Authentic Thai beef recipes

Loved reading this nam tok beef recipe? Please make my day by dropping a star rating and/or a comment below! Follow me on social media: FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Nam Tok Beef Recipe (Thai Grilled Beef Salad)

Nam tok beef, a Thai grilled beef salad, served with Thai sticky rice and fresh vegetables.
This quick and easy nam tok beef recipe creates a deliciously spicy Thai grilled beef salad with authentic Thai flavors.
Praew
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course, Salad
Serving Size 3 people

Ingredients

For the marinade

  • 500 g beef
  • 0.5 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 0.5 tablespoon golden mountain sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 0.5 tablespoon white sugar

For the dressing

  • 2 teaspoons toasted rice powder
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 0.5 tablespoon Thai chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 60 g shallots thinly sliced
  • 10 g coriander
  • 10 g green onions
  • 10 g mint
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves cut into thin strips

Instructions

Marinate beef

  • Crush garlic with a mortar and pestle.
    2 cloves of garlic
  • Add crushed garlic, golden mountain sauce, oyster sauce, and white sugar to a large bowl. Stir the ingredients together until the sugar is fully dissolved.
    0.5 tablespoon oyster sauce, 0.5 tablespoon golden mountain sauce, 0.5 tablespoon white sugar
  • Add beef and coat it with the marinade mix. Marinate overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours.
    500 g beef

Grill beef

  • Grill beef on one side for approx 5–10 minutes, then flip and grill the other side. Medium rare is preffered
  • Let the grilled beef rest for about 5 minutes, then cut it into thin slices against the grain.

Mix with dressing

  • In a mixing bowl, combine fish sauce, fresh lime juice, red pepper flakes, and toasted rice powder.
    2 tablespoons fish sauce, 0.5 tablespoon Thai chili flakes, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 teaspoons toasted rice powder
  • Add sliced beef and mix well with the dressing.
  • Add remaining herbs and spices, gently mix and serve your nam tok beef immediately. Enjoy!
    60 g shallots, 10 g coriander, 10 g green onions, 10 g mint, 3 kaffir lime leaves

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Serve with sticky rice and fresh vegetables.

Similar Posts

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating