Thai crying tiger recipe is marinaded beef with marinating sauce of oyster sauce, fish sauce, garlic, and soy sauce, then grilled to perfection. It is the best crying tiger recipe because it is healthy and full of flavors. A perfect summer grilling steak!
Summer is here, and these Thai grilling recipes are a must this summer. Try The Nam Tok beef waterfall salad or the very popular and easy Thai beef salad recipe. And don't forget this mouth-watering Nam Jim Jeaw recipe without sugar to pair with the crying tiger steak. The uber-popular sauce is a must!
What is a Crying Tiger Steak?
The crying tiger or weeping tiger or Suea Rong Hai, in its Thai name, is a popular Thai dish made with grilled beef steak. The recipe originates from Isaan, the Northeastern part of Thailand. The meat is typically cooked as a rare steak and is served with a spicy Thai dipping sauce, Nam Jim Jeaw. It is a simple recipe full of memorable flavors that will have you craving it all summer for all your BBQs!
Why is it Called Crying, Tiger?
Despite the curious name, the steak is not made from Tiger meat! Instead, this super easy recipe uses a boneless grilling beef steak. Thai legends and folklore have it that the Nam Jim Jaew is so spicy, from using Thai chili peppers, that even the strong and mighty tigers cry upon tasting it!
Another story my uncle told me was that a hungry tiger was starving but refused to eat a cow because of a Buddhist precept of not taking another life. There are various stories out there, but no one knows the true story or how the name came about, but for sure, it's a catchy name that leads to interesting conversations.
Why This Recipe Works
- The crying tiger dish, or the weeping tiger recipe, is so simple. The ingredients are not hard to find at all. Most ingredients you can grab from your regular grocery store.
- You can substitute honey or agave instead of sugar to make it healthier
- The spicy crying tiger sauce is so flavorful and easy to put together. You can make it ahead of time. Here is Nam Jim Jeaw recipe without sugar, a super simple dish to go along with the steak.
- It’s a perfect summer recipe to show off and impress guests at your BBQs!
- You have another delicious salad recipe from me to use this crying tiger recipe for if you want more veggies. Here's the Nam Tok beef waterfall salad.
Ingredients for making Crying Tiger Beef Recipe
These are the key ingredients to make an authentic crying tiger recipe and the crying tiger sauce. Not all the ingredients are listed here, but these are the essential ones that need a little explanation and possible substitutes.
Big plus, most of these items can be found at your local grocery store! Let’s get going on this deliciousness, shall we? (:
Ingredients for the Crying Tiger Steak
- Oyster sauce. If there’s one sauce that I won’t miss for this recipe, it’s the oyster sauce. It adds a very full-depth umami flavor that sets the marinading meat to another level of deliciousness. Here's a nice set of different sauces that are heavily used in my kitchen.
- Fish sauce. I used squid brand fish sauce for this recipe, but you can use any brand you have
- Soy sauce. I always use my Asian light soy sauce, but you can use any of your favorite soy sauces. The saltiness level will differ, but try to adjust the sauces to your liking before marinating the beef.
- Sugar. I used white sugar for the more authentic recipe, but coconut palm, brown, monk fruit sugar, honey, agave, or any sweetening agent can be used.
- White peppercorn. White peppercorns are made from ripe black peppercorn berries. The skin is soaked and stripped, making the white peppercorns less spicy, but has a unique flavor and smell.
Ingredients for Crying Tiger Sauce
- Tamarind. Tamarind sauce is essential for the authentic flavor profile of the weeping tiger sauce. You can grab them HERE, at the Asian market, or make tamarind sauce with this recipe!
- Khao Khua, Roasted rice powder. Please don’t skip this one, as the sauce will not be the same without it. The toasted rice powder is very simple to make, and I have a recipe with step-step-photos for you to follow. Toasted rice powder Khao Khua
- Fish sauce. For my recipe, I used squid brand fish sauce. It’s a nice, light fish sauce that is not too salty or fishy for dipping sauces.
- White peppercorn. Ground black peppers are a great substitute.
- Fresh Lime juice. Substitute lemon juice but add just a little extra, as I find lime juice has more of a zing. You can substitute rice wine, apple cider, or regular vinegar.
- Honey. I used honey for this very popular Nam Jim Jeaw recipe without sugar. But you can use white, brown sugar, palm sugar, coconut sugar, monk fruit sugar, honey, or agave sweetener.
- Red chilies. Use dry chili flakes for the sauce.
How to Make Authentic Thai Crying Tiger Beef
Preparing the steak for the Crying Tiger recipe
Step 1. Wash your meat with cold water dry paper towel, and place it in a plastic bag or shallow pan. Let the meat sit while prepping the other ingredients.
Step 2. Mix the sauces, garlic, sugar, and white pepper in a medium bowl until the sugar dissolves. Taste the marinade and adjust as needed, airing on the saltier side as some flavors will dissolve while grilling.
Step 3. Dip the meat in the marinade on both sides.
Step 4. If your meat is thick, use a small knife to puncture a few holes to let the sauce seep through.
Step 5. Pour the sauce over the meat in a ziplock bag or small pan, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 1-5 hours. Flipping side once or twice for even marinade. Set the meat out at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.
Step 6. Start the grill and cook the meat on medium-high heat. Cover the grill and cook until the meat is done to your liking, 2-4 minutes on each side, less as desired.
Step 7. Remove from the grill and let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes on a cutting board before cutting to allow the juice from the meat to redistribute and keeps the delicious juiced locked in within the cooked meat.
Step 8. Cut the meat against the grains into thin strips and slather the Nam Jim Jaew Recipe sauce. Serve with sticky rice and a plate of crunchy vegetables!
Crying Tiger Sauce, Nam Jim Jaew Recipe
- Toast uncooked rice at medium heat until the rice is golden brown and fragrant. Let it cool, then grind it in a spice grinder to a coarse powder. More detailed instructions on how to make Toasted rice powder.
- Add the finely chopped fresh herbs and place them in a small bowl.
- Pour honey over the fresh herbs in the bowl.
- Add fish sauce, lime juice, tamarind puree, and chili flakes.
- Stir everything, taste, and adjust the flavor with more sugar, fish sauce, or tamarind juice.
- Lastly, add toasted rice powder and mix well. Add 1-2 tablespoon of water if the sauce is too thick, and adjust with more fish sauce, lime juice, honey, or tamarind.
Helpful Kitchen Notes for Making Crying Tiger Steak
- Use honey, agave, or monk fruit sugar for a healthier option. I love using agave!
- For toasted rice for the sauce, you can use jasmine, sticky, or Japanese glutinous rice. These work great!
- When making the marinating sauce, I tend to have my sauce a little salty because the sauce will get absolved and cooked into the meat.
- Don’t throw away any leftover marinating sauce. Use a cooking brush to slather the sauce on the steak as you grill and flip the meat. This is a liquid goal. No food shall be wasted! (:
- If you don't have a grill, cook the meat in a frying pan on high heat or bake in the oven until the steak is perfect to your liking.
Frequently Asked Questions
You want to use boneless grilling steak for this crying tiger steak recipe. The better the quality, the better the taste, as big this recipe is mostly the choice of meat used. I like my steak with a bit of fat for extra flavors, but rib eye, top round London, top sirloin, flank, or any of your favorite cuts of grilling a steak.
Weeping tiger sauce is made from chopped-up shallot, garlic, tamarind concentrate, fish sauce, fresh lime juice, sugar, and toasted rice. Here is a full recipe for Nam Jim Jaew. Some variations of the sauce use chopped spring onions, adding flavor to the delicious dish.
There are no actual tigers involved in the making of this recipe. (; It’s just a folksy story passed down from generation to about the spicy sauce used for grilled beef that makes a tiger cry. Or I think it might be because the tiger killed the cow, ate the meat, and felt sorrowful then cried about his kill. It makes sense because cows are sacred in Thailand’s Buddhist culture, and killing them is not something one takes lightly.
Crying tiger sauce is typically served with its saucy partner, Nam Jim Jaew. Make the spicy dipping sauce. You will not regret a thing, promise. You will also see sticky rice served alongside crying tigers. Jasmine rice is the next best option. Thai papaya salad, steamed rice, salad, or some cooling vegetables will go well. A sliced cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, or cabbage plate is perfect for a vegetable bowl.
Crying Tiger is a pretty low calory food. It is packed with protein and keeps you satisfied and full for a long time without feeling too heavy. I have calculated the calories of the crying tiger and the crying tiger sauce in my recipe card below. The quick answer is about 200 calories/serving/ 5 oz for the grilled beef and 80 calories/serving for the dipping sauce.
Other Summer Thai Recipes You'll love
- Nam Jim Jaew recipe without sugar
- Nam Tok beef waterfall salad
- Easy Thai beef salad recipe.
- Toasted rice powder Khao Khua
- Purple Sticky Rice and How to make purple sticky rice
- Sticky rice and how to make Thai sticky rice
- Thai grilled chicken, Thai Gai Yang chicken recipe
- Easy Chicken Satay Recipe