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Nam Tok Beef (Authentic Thai Grilled Beef Salad Recipe)

A plate of nam tok beef garnished with fresh herbs, alongside sticky rice, red chili peppers, and lime wedges, set on a black surface.

Nam tok beef is perfect when you're craving a plate of authentic Thai grilled beef salad. The tender, juicy grilled steak is tossed with fresh herbs and a sour, spicy dressing. This recipe is perfect for a quick dinner or lunch with sticky rice and fresh vegetables.

A plate of nam tok beef garnished with fresh herbs, alongside sticky rice, red chili peppers, and lime wedges, set on a black surface.

For more delicious Thai beef recipes, try my popular crying tiger steak, the refreshing yum nua, and this irresistible Thai beef jerky recipe.

What is nam tok beef

Nam tok beef is a classic Thai salad with grilled strips of marinated beef, tossed with a tangy, spicy dressing and fresh herbs. Often paired with sticky rice, this grilled meat salad originated in Isan, the Northeast of Thailand.

More about Thai grilled beef salad

Also known as nam tok neua or nam tok nua, this spicy Thai beef salad is full of bold, authentic flavors. The steak is grilled over charcoal or in a grilling pan, infusing it with a smoky flavor.

Most salads are made of vegetables, but this one puts tender, thinly sliced steak in the spotlight. With Thai seasonings, spicy chilies, and fresh herbs, this dish is perfect on its own, but pairs perfect with other Thai food too.

Close-up of Thai beef salad with a wooden fork, lifting a slice of beef.

Whether you're serving it up for a quick dinner or with other side-dishes, this nam tok recipe won't disappoint.

Isan food

Nam tok originates from Isan, where I spent my early years and current time.

This waterfall beef salad is one of the best dishes you can find in Northeast Thailand. Whip it up with other Isan classics like som tum Thai and Thai pork larb for an authentic meal.

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

In Isan, we eat sticky rice with just about anything. And forget about forks and spoons, go traditional and use your hands!

Roll up a ball of sticky rice, dip it into the sweet-sour-spicy dressing, and grab a slice of that juicy, tender beef.

Sharing food with people is so important in Isan culture, and this nam tok beef recipe embraces that tradition.

Ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.

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

Marinade

  • Beef - The best cut of beef for 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 is perfect.
  • Golden mountain sauce - This sauce is used in Thai cuisine to enhance the flavor 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 more.
  • White sugar - A sprinkle of sugar balances out the flavors.
  • Garlic - Infuses the steak with bold flavors and gives it aroma.

Dressing

  • Toasted rice powder - Toasted rice powder or khao khua adds an earthy, nutty tone.
  • Thai chili flakes - Made from pounding dried chilies with a mortar and pestle.
  • Fish sauce - Fish sauce has a salty, umami flavor.
  • Shallots - Add a subtle sweetness to many Thai salads. Slice them thinly, so they can mingle with the beef and herbs.
  • Limes - Fresh lime juice adds the tangy flavor.
  • Kaffir lime leaves - Thin strips of kaffir lime leaves add a citrus aroma. Stick to 2 leaves to avoid overwhelming the flavor. Keep it balanced.
  • Green onions, mint, culantro - Other herbs that can be used are cilantro and coriander.

Most ingredients can be found at Asian markets or Asian grocery stores.

Short recipe video

https://www.tiktok.com/@hungryinthailand.com/video/7158736756043484421

Cooking instructions

Make the marinade

1: Begin by pounding the garlic using a mortar and pestle.

2: Combine seasonings: Add the garlic, flavor seasoning, oyster sauce, and sugar in a large bowl. Stir the ingredients together until the sugar is fully dissolved in the mixture.

3: Add the beef to the bowl, thoroughly coat it with the marinade sauce.

4: Marinate overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours.

Grill the meat

1: Grill the meat on one side for approx 5–10 minutes, then turn the meat and grill the other side.

2: After grilling, cut the meat. Let the steak rest for about 5 minutes and cut it into thin slices against the grain.

Prepare the dressing

1: Mix the dressing. Mix fish sauce, fresh lime juice, chili flakes, and toasted rice powder.

2: Add sliced beef. Thoroughly combine it with the other ingredients.

3: Add the remaining herbs and spices.

4: Gently mix.
Make sure to keep the herbs and spices intact. Serve immediately.

Kitchen tools

  • Charcoal grill or grill pan and tongs
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Mortar and pestle

How to serve waterfall beef salad

Nam tok goes with lots of Thai dishes.

In Isan, Thai people commonly eat their meals with lots of crunchy, fresh vegetables. This is also the case when we're having neua nam tok. Here are some suggestions:

  • Yardlong beans
  • Thai eggplants
  • Fresh chilies
  • Lettuce

How to store

Nam tok salad leftovers can be stored in your refrigerator, sealed or in an airtight container, for up to 2 days.

Toasted rice powder acts as a thickener when mixed with other ingredients. It also soaks up flavors from the other ingredients, so I suggest eating this salad in one go.

Did you know?

  • In Thai, we call the pork version "nam tok moo", which is just as delicious!
  • "Nam tok" translates to waterfall and "neua" means beef. It's a nod to the steak juices dripping onto the hot charcoal.

More Thai grill recipes you'll love

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Cooking Method
Courses ,
Time
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 30 min Rest Time: 2 hour Total Time: 2 hrs 45 mins
Servings 3
Calories 357
Description

Enjoy tangy, tender, and spicy flavors with this nam tok beef, the best Isan dish for a quick and easy dinner.

Ingredients
    Marinade
  • 18 ounces beef
  • 1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon golden mountain sauce
  • 2 garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon white sugar
  • Dressing
  • 2 teaspoons toasted rice powder
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon red chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2.10 ounces shallots (thinly sliced)
  • 0.35 ounces coriander
  • 0.35 ounces green onions
  • 0.35 ounces mint
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (cut into thin strips)
Instructions
  1. Make the marinade

    1: Begin by pounding the garlic using a mortar and pestle.
    2: Combine the garlic, flavor seasoning, oyster sauce, and sugar in a large bowl. Stir the ingredients together until the sugar is fully dissolved in the mixture.
    3: Add the beef to the bowl, thoroughly coat it with the marinade sauce.
    4: Marinate overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours.

  2. Grill the meat

    1: Grill the meat on one side for approx 5–10 minutes, then turn the meat and grill the other side.
    2: After grilling, cut the meat. Let the steak rest for about 5 minutes and cut it into thin slices against the grain.

  3. Prepare the dressing

    1: Mix the dressing. Mix fish sauce, fresh lime juice, chili flakes, and toasted rice powder.
    2: Add sliced beef. Thoroughly combine it with the other ingredients.
    3: Add the remaining herbs and spices.
    4: Gently mix.
     Make sure to keep the herbs and spices intact. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 3


Amount Per Serving
Calories 357kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5.2g8%
Saturated Fat 0.7g4%
Total Carbohydrate 26.3g9%
Sugars 3.3g
Protein 49.5g99%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

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

Keywords: nam tok beef, Thai grilled beef salad, nam tok neua

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