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thai beef salad with sliced beef on a plate

Authentic Nam Tok Thai grilled beef waterfall salad

  • Author: Suwanee
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Low Lactose


Authentic Nam Tok Thai grilled beef waterfall salad is a popular dish from Northeast Thailand using marinated grilled steak. The beef is typically cooked rare than sliced to place over an herb-filled salad and always topped off with dry toasted ground rice powder. It's perfect for a light and tasty meal!



For the steak

  • 1 lb top sirloin steak. Or any of your favorite grilling steaks.
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced. About 2-3 medium cloves.
  • For the salad
  • 1/4 cup lemongrass, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk green onions, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 -2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice. Go light, then add more if desired.
  • 1/2 -2 teaspoons fresh or dry Thai chilis. Add more or less as desired.
  • 2 tablespoons toasted rice powder


  1. Dry roast the rice in a hot pan over medium heat. (No oil used) Once golden brown and fragrant, remove from the pan into a plate and let cool.
  2. Use a spice grinder and grind the rice until almost powder, leaving a few pieces in larger chunks for the extra crunch. Set aside for the salad. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer for future use. Check out my detailed recipe on how to make toasted rice powder here.
  3. Make the marinating sauce. Mix all the marinating ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. (Oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, white pepper, minced garlic, and oil.)
  4. Rinse the meat, pat dry with a paper towel, then dip the meat in the marinating sauce in the bowl until all sides are covered well.
  5. Marinate the meat. Place the meat in a zip-lock bag. Pour the remaining sauce from the bowl into the bag and shake the bag lightly to blend in the meat pieces. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag tight. Place on a plate and refrigerate for 1-5 hours. If you are short on time, check out the expert tips on marinating. Let the meat sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before grilling.
  6. Turn the gas grill to medium-high heat and grill the meat for 5-8 minutes on each side or until the meat is at a desired rare or medium-rare temperature. Remove from the grill and let the meat rest on a cutting board for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
  7. Prepare the salad. Add the rest of the salad ingredients except the toasted rice and chili flakes in a medium-sized bowl. Mix and let the salad sit for 5 minutes while you prepare to slice the meat.
  8. Slice the steak against the grain into 1-2 inches long, and save all the juices. Very important!
  9. Place the sliced beef over the salad, including the steak juices, lightly sprinkle on toasted rice powder, and mix well.
  10. Add the chili pepper, more lime juice, or fish sauce to your liking. That’s it! Serve with Thai sticky and jasmine rice, or eat it as a delicious, hearty salad! Add some raw vegetables like sliced cabbage, lettuce, and cucumbers, and use them like wraps for extra nutrients. Enjoy!


  • How to cook the steak. It’s important to note that you want to cook the beef on the rare or medium-rare side for this recipe. The lime juice used in the salad dressing will continue to cook the meat even further after the grilling.
  • Marinating. If you are short on time, marinate the meat for 30 minutes at room temperature. To help speed up the marinating process, massage the meat in a sealed zip lock bag where the meat is mixed in with the marinating sauce for 1-2 minutes on each side every 10 minutes. This technique will help speed up the marinating process by letting the sauce seep into the meat more quickly.
  • For the best result, I recommend marinating the meat before heading to work in the morning or, if working from home, marinating it around lunchtime for at least 3-4 hours ahead of time.
  • Cooking on a stovetop skillet. If grilling is not an option, Nam Tok Neua can also be cooked in a stovetop skillet. The skillet is my go-to cooking method for this recipe during winter or when I’m short on time. If the meat dries in the skillet before it is cooked, you can add oil or water to the skillet to help keep the meat from sticking to the pan. Cook the meat until it’s rare to medium-rare on the skillet, just as you would on the grill.
  • Kao Khua or Toasted Rice Powder. Adding the toasted rice is the final step to making Nam Tok. It's an essential ingredient that makes the dish authentic and a step I wouldn’t recommend skipping for this recipe. The extra crunchy texture also helps bind all the ingredients together in the finished dish. It’s quick and easy to make, so don’t skip out on this part! You may use either sticky or jasmine rice.
  • Store the leftover toasted rice powder in an airtight container for up to 2 months and 4 months in the freezer.

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  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Beef Recipes
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: Nam tok recipe, Authentic Thai grilled beef waterfall salad, Thai beef salad, Nam tok beef, waterfall beef salad