Crying Tiger is a dish of grilled steak and a spicy Thai dipping sauce.
No, you're not eating a tiger, but this dish definitely has a catchy name! The Thai name translates to 'Crying Tiger', and it got this name because the dipping sauce is suppose to be so spicy that it'll make a tiger cry.
Whenever we have family dinners at our house, this dish is highly requested. It's a simple dish consisting of grilled steak and dipping sauce, but the sauce puts it over the top!
What Kind of Meat to Use in Crying Tiger?
Unlike the name, we are definitely not eating Tiger! Instead use your favorite cut of steak for this dish.
Start by salting both sides of the steak and allow to come to room temperature on your counter, usually an hour is good.
Then pat the steaks dry to ensure a nice crust on the outside.
You can either grill the steaks or cook on a cast iron skillet like I did in the video below.
I prefer the steak to be medium to medium well for this dish. And always let your steak rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Crying Tiger Dipping Sauce
This is the key component for Crying Tiger and can be adjusted to your liking. The sauce can be described as a spicy, sour, and salty. A trifecta of flavors.
Sauce Ingredients and Substitutions:
Ground Thai Chilis- Unlike regular red pepper flakes, ground thai chilies have a finer consistency and are very spicy. I've linked where you can find them on Amazon below.
Substitutions can be regular red pepper flakes or sliced fresh Thai Chilies.
Toasted Rice Powder- Similar to Larb and Nam Tok, the sauce for Crying Tiger requires a Thai condiment of toasted rice powder. They sell this in Asian grocery stores or I've linked it below on Amazon.
You can also make your own by toasting uncooked sweet rice grains with some Thai lime leaves for a few minutes until lightly browned, then grind in a spice grinder. Once the rice is grounded, sift through a fine mesh strainer to ensure only the powder comes through.
Fish Sauce- You can adjust the amount of fish sauce to your liking, but if you need a substitute, then use soy sauce. You won't get the same umami flavor that fish sauce delivers.
Sugar- Traditionally in Thailand palm sugar is used, but I substituted with coconut sugar. You can also use brown sugar or regular sugar to balance out the dipping sauce.
Lime Juice- Always use fresh lime juice, I used 2 whole limes. Start with one and add more if needed.
I also like to add a few teaspoons of water to thin out the sauce, otherwise it will be too concentrated.
Can the dipping sauce be made ahead of time?
Since the toasted rice powder expands when it sits in the liquid, I don't recommend making it too far in advance. You can have all your herbs prepped along with the items you will be serving the crying tiger with.
Then assemble the sauce while the steak is cooking.
Watch the Full YouTube Video Here:
Here are some other spicy Thai dishes:
Larb- Thai Ground Chicken Salad
Nue Nam Tok- Sliced Steak Salad
Som Tum- Thai Papaya Salad
These Thai dishes have bold spicy flavors and can be served with Thai Sticky Rice or a low carb version of lettuce or cabbage leaves.
Crying Tiger Recipe
- Grill or Stove
- 2 lbs Sirloin Steak seasoned with salt both sides.
- 2 tablespoon Thai Fish Sauce
- ⅓ cup Lime Juice about 2 limes
- 1 teaspoon Ground Toasted Rice (If making your own, toast 2 tablespoon for Sweet Glutinous Rice with Lime Leaves and grind to a fine powder).
- 2 teaspoon Ground Thai Chili Pepper Use more or less depending on spice level. Can sub red pepper flakes or fresh Thai chilis.
- 1 teaspoon Coconut Sugar or sub brown sugar or regular sugar
- 2 tablespoon Cilantro Chopped
- 2 tablespoon Green Onion Chopped
- 1 tablespoon Water Taste the sauce first and add water as needed to make it less concentrated.
- Lettuce leaves, Cabbage leaves, Cucumber Slices, Thai Sticky Rice or regular rice.
- Dipping sauce: Combine fish sauce, lime juice, toasted rice powder, Thai pepper, coconut sugar, cilantro, green onion, and water. Mix well and taste for seasoning. Adjust to your liking by either adding water to dilute it, or more lime juice or fish sauce.
- Heat a grill or cast Iron skillet over the stove to hot. Pat steaks dry and place seasoned steaks on grill or skillet and cook for a couple minutes on each side until desired temperature is reached.
- Allow steaks to rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving with dipping sauce.
- Serve with Lettuce leaves, Cabbage leaves, Cucumber Slices, Thai Sticky Rice or regular rice.
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