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    Crying Tiger

    Have you ever heard of a dish so delicious it could make a tiger cry? Welcome to the world of Crying Tiger, a legendary dish steeped in Thai culinary lore that’s as tantalizing as it is intriguing. This culinary marvel boasts a symphony of flavors so intense, so exquisitely spicy, the folklore suggests even the jungle’s mightiest predator might shed a tear.

    Whether these are tears of joy for the taste or wistful longing for a bite, we’ll never know. But one thing’s for sure – this dish is a masterpiece of bold spices and tender meat cooked to perfection. So, are you ready to discover why even tigers might weep with joy? Let’s dive into the kitchen and unravel the mystery of the Crying Tiger!

    Please note: No large jungle cats were harmed in the making of this recipe.

    This Crying Tiger Beef features well marinated, thinly sliced steak along with an irresistibly tasty dipping sauce.

    Like you, we were super intrigued with the name… Crying Tiger!! Once we delved into the recipe, so robust and bold, we were roaring to try the tiger that cries.

    In the past, we have created some funny sounding recipes like Dragon Chicken, Toad in the Hole, Loco Moco, and Marry Me Chicken, and had fun trying them in our kitchen.

    Today’s Crying Tiger will not only intrigue you, but will simply wow you when you dip those tender, perfectly cooked steak morsels into the most crackling delicious dipping sauce.

    Thai dipping sauce in a blue bowl.

    We Love Crying Tiger Beef for

    • Unique Flavor Profile: Crying Tiger boasts a unique blend of spicy, tangy, savory, and a tad bit sweet flavors. The combination of fish sauce, lime juice, tamarind, and chili in the sauce creates a complex and balanced taste that’s both delicious and satisfying.
    • Tender, Juicy Meat: The marinating process ensures that the steak is not only flavorful but also tender and juicy. This makes every bite a delightful experience.
    • Versatility: This dish offers versatility in cooking methods. It can be grilled, pan-seared, or even cooked on a Blackstone griddle, making it accessible to a wide range of cooks, regardless of their kitchen setup.
    • Cultural Richness: Crying Tiger is steeped in Thai culture and folklore, providing not just a culinary experience but also a cultural one. The intriguing name and its backstory add an element of mystique and conversation to the dining experience.
    • Customizable Heat Level: The level of spiciness in the Crying Tiger sauce can be adjusted to suit individual preferences, making it a hit among both those who love heat and those who prefer milder flavors.
    • Interactive Eating Experience: The act of dipping the steak into the sauce makes for a fun and interactive eating experience, different from more conventional steak dishes.
    Using chopsticks to dip a piece of steak into the dipping sauce.

    What is Crying Tiger?

    The dish “Crying Tiger,” known in Thai as “Seua Rong Hai,” originated in Thailand. It’s a popular dish in Northeastern Thailand, also known as the Isaan region, which is renowned for its unique and vibrant culinary culture.

    It typically features grilled steak that’s marinated in a blend of savory sauces and spices, served with a spicy dipping sauce that often includes ingredients like fish sauce, lime juice, chili peppers, and herbs. Thailand’s culinary tradition is known for balancing sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter flavors, and Crying Tiger perfectly embodies this harmony.

    The name “Crying Tiger,” is as captivating as the dish itself, rich in flavor and steeped in folklore.

    One popular interpretation of the name suggests that the dish is so extraordinarily flavorful and spicy that it could bring even a mighty tiger to tears. This theory highlights the intensity and depth of the sauce’s flavors, a characteristic proudly boasted in Thai cuisine. The tears in this context are ones of joy and overwhelming satisfaction, a testament to the dish’s powerful taste profile.

    Another theory takes a more literal approach, envisioning a scenario where a tiger, longing for the tender, juicy meat grilled out of its reach, sheds tears of longing. This version of the story emphasizes the exclusivity and desirability of the meat, portraying it as a prized delicacy that’s just beyond the tiger’s grasp.

    Alternatively, the name might serve as a metaphor for the dish’s robust and fiery nature. Here, the ‘tiger’ symbolizes the bold, strong flavors, with the spiciness and richness of the marinade and dipping sauce powerful enough to bring tears to one’s eyes, much like an encounter with a formidable tiger.

    Beyond these myths, the name “Crying Tiger” also reflects the importance of storytelling in Thai culture, where food often comes with tales that enhance its cultural significance. In this light, the name adds an element of intrigue and tradition to the dish, transforming it from a mere culinary delight to a vibrant cultural experience.

    Regardless of its origin, the name “Crying Tiger” is a nod to the rich, bold, and sometimes tear-inducing flavors that are hallmarks of Thai cuisine, making it a dish that’s as memorable for its story as it is for its taste.

    Sliced crying tiger beef on a wooden cutting board.

    What Cut of Steak is BEST for this Recipe?

    For Crying Tiger beef, the choice of steak cut is crucial in achieving the perfect balance of flavor and tenderness. Ideal cuts for this dish are those that are well-marbled and tender, yet sturdy enough to hold up to the robust flavors of the marinade and the high heat of cooking.

    Sirloin, with its lean yet flavorful profile, is a great choice. It’s also probably the most budget friendly option.

    Ribeye, with its rich marbling and deep flavor, can also be an excellent option, as the fat renders beautifully on the grill or skillet, infusing the meat with succulence and taste.

    Flank steak is another great choice. It’s leaner than ribeye but still flavorful, and its flat shape makes it ideal for absorbing the marinade and cooking evenly.

    Whichever cut you choose, ensure it’s of good quality and prepare it correctly to bring out the best in this classic Thai dish.

    Sliced steak on a cutting board along with sliced cucumber.

    Ingredient Notes

    For Marinating the Steak

    • Steak: We are going with sirloin today. It absorbs the marinade well and cooks beautifully.
    • Fish Sauce: This adds a unique umami and salty flavor, and is very typical in Thai cuisine.
    • Soy Sauce: An Asian staple, provides a salty depth to the marinade.
    • Oyster Sauce: Offers a sweet and savory taste.
    • Brown Sugar: Balances the savory elements with its sweetness. Palm sugar is a great substitute if brown sugar is not available.
    • Garlic: Freshly minced garlic is ideal for robust flavor. It’s a key aromatic in the marinade.
    • Black Pepper: Adds a mild heat and earthiness. Freshly ground black pepper is preferable for the best flavor.

    For Crying Tiger Dipping Sauce

    Ingredients for the dipping sauce.
    • Fish Sauce: Acts as the salty base of the sauce. Adjust according to your taste preference.
    • Lime Juice: Freshly squeezed lime juice provides a bright acidity, balancing the sauce’s flavors.
    • Tamarind Paste: Delivers a tangy and slightly sweet flavor. If not available, a mix of lime juice and a bit of sugar can be used as a substitute.
    • Sugar: Helps to balance the tanginess and spiciness of the sauce. Adjust according to how sweet you like your sauce.
    • Toasted Rice Powder: Adds a nutty flavor and unique texture. See notes in the recipe card for instructions to make it.
    • Garlic: Ensure it’s finely minced for even distribution in the sauce.
    • Thai Red Chilis: These provide the characteristic heat. Adjust the amount to suit your spice tolerance.
    • Red Chili Flakes: Offer additional heat and texture. Use more or less depending on your preference for spiciness.
    • Cilantro, Shallots, Scallions: These bring freshness and a burst of flavor. Chop them finely for the best integration of flavors.
    • Black Pepper: A touch of black pepper can add an extra layer of complexity to the sauce.

    Crying Tiger Recipe

    1. Marinate the Steak: Combine all marinade ingredients in a shallow bowl. Add the steak to the marinade, ensuring it’s well coated.

    Let it marinate while you prepare the sauce, or for up to 2 hours in the fridge for deeper flavors. If refrigerated, bring the steak to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.

    Marinating the beef.

    2. Prepare the Crying Tiger Sauce: Mix together all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside to let the flavors meld.

    The sauce in a stone bowl.

    3. Cook the Steak: Heat a thin layer of oil in a cast-iron skillet, or on a griddle, or grill over medium-high heat.

    Add the steak to the hot skillet or grill. Sear for 2 minutes on each side, then flip every minute until the desired doneness is reached. Use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness (see doneness chart below).

    Once cooked, transfer the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.

    4. Serve: Slice the steak against the grain. Serve with the Crying Tiger Sauce on the side for dipping.

    The finished product on a cutting board.

    Steak Doneness Guide

    Cook the steak to your desired doneness (in the case of this recipe, we cook it to medium rare). Times will vary according to cut and thickness, but you will want the temperature on an instant read thermometer to read:

    • Rare: 120°F
    • Medium Rare: 130°F
    • Medium: 140°F
    • Medium Well: 150°F
    • Well: 160°F

    After cooking allow to rest for 10 minutes.

    Alpana’s Tips

    1. Selecting the Right Cut of Steak: Choose a steak that’s well-marbled for flavor, such as sirloin, ribeye, or flank steak. The fat in the marbling will render during cooking, adding juiciness and richness to the meat.

    2. Marination is Key: Marinate the steak for at least 30 minutes, but for a more intense flavor, marinate it for up to 2 hours. This allows the meat to absorb the savory, umami flavors of the marinade. If you marinate the steak in the refrigerator, remember to bring it to room temperature before cooking. This ensures even cooking.

    3. Grilling Technique: If using a grill, make sure it’s very hot before you start. A hot grill sears the meat quickly, locking in juices and creating a flavorful char.

    4. Doneness Matters: Use a meat thermometer to check for your preferred level of doneness. Every cut and thickness requires a different cooking time.

    5. Resting the Meat: After cooking, let the steak rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring that every bite is juicy and flavorful.

    6. Preparing the Sauce: For the Crying Tiger sauce, balance is crucial. Adjust the levels of fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar to get the perfect harmony of salty, sour, and sweet. The sauce should have a kick to it. Adjust the amount of chili to suit your heat preference.

    7. Toasting Rice for the Sauce: If you’re making toasted rice powder, toast the rice until it’s a deep golden brown, but not burnt. This will give a nutty flavor to the sauce.

    8. Serving Suggestions: Serve the Crying Tiger beef with sticky rice or jasmine rice to balance the strong flavors of the meat and sauce. You can also add in sliced cucumber, carrots and tomatoes, which go great with this Thai steak.

    Zoomed out shot of the cutting board topped with beef and the dipping sauce.

    Leftovers and Storing

    Allow the leftover steak and sauce to cool to room temperature. However, don’t leave them out for more than two hours to prevent bacterial growth.

    Store the steak and sauce in separate airtight containers. This prevents the steak from becoming soggy and keeps the sauce fresh. The refrigerated steak can be kept for up to 3-4 days.

    If you don’t plan to eat the leftovers within a few days, freezing is a good option. Wrap the steak tightly in plastic wrap, then place it in a freezer bag. It can last in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen steak in the fridge overnight before reheating.

    Reheat the steak gently, either in a skillet over low heat or in the microwave at a reduced power setting, to avoid overcooking or drying it out.

    The sauce can be reheated in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. Stir it well to recombine any separated ingredients.

    Sliced leftover Crying Tiger steak can be used in salads, sandwiches, or wraps for a flavorful meal. The sauce can double as a dressing for salads, or as a marinade for other meats.

    This Crying Tiger Beef features well marinated, thinly sliced steak along with an irresistibly tasty dipping sauce.

    And there you have it, roar to your dining table – Crying Tiger! It’s bound to leave a lasting impression on your palate. With each bite of this succulent steak, drenched in its zesty, tongue-tingling sauce, you’ve not just shared a meal, but a story steeped in Thai tradition and flavor.

    As you sit back, satisfied, with the echoes of exotic spices lingering in your taste buds, remember to like GypsyPlate, for bringing you flavors hidden in the tiny nooks of this big wide world. Spread the love and share our recipes!

    Featured image for crying tiger recipe.

    Crying Tiger Recipe

    Yield: 4 servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Total Time: 25 minutes

    This Crying Tiger Beef features well marinated, thinly sliced steak along with an irresistibly tasty dipping sauce.


    Steak and Marinade

    • 1.5 pounds steak (see note 1)
    • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
    • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
    • 1.5 Tbsp oyster sauce
    • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp black pepper

    Crying Tiger Sauce

    • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
    • 2 Tbsp lime juice
    • 1 Tbsp tamarind paste
    • 1 Tbsp sugar
    • 1 Tbsp toasted rice powder (see note 2)
    • 1 large clove garlic, minced
    • 4 small Thai red chilis, finely chopped
    • 2 tsp red chili flakes
    • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
    • 1 small shallot, chopped
    • 2 scallions, sliced
    • ¼ tsp black pepper


    1. Combine steak with all marinade ingredients in a shallow bowl. Marinate while you prepare the rest of the recipe, or up to 2 hours in the fridge for deeper flavors (if refrigerating, remove steak from fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking in order to come to room temperature).
    2. Mix together all ingredients for the crying tiger dipping sauce in a bowl.
    3. Heat a thin layer of oil in a cast iron or other heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Alternately, you can grill the steak over medium high heat. Add steak and sear for 2 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 2 minutes. Continue flipping every 1 minute until the internal temperature of the steak reached desired doneness, as measure with an instant read thermometer (see note 3).
    4. Once desired internal temperature is reached, remove the steak to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.


    1. We use sirloin. Other options are ribeye, strip or flank.
    2. This is made by toasting glutinous white rice or jasmine rice in a sauté pan over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until a golden brown color develops (about 10-12 minutes). Grind to a coarse powder in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder.
    3. To determine steak doneness, measure in the thickest part with an accurate instant read thermometer. Use the following temperature guidelines:
    • Rare: 120°F
    • Medium Rare: 130°F
    • Medium: 140°F
    • Medium Well: 150°F
    • Well: 160°F

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 4 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 565Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 165mgSodium 2490mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 2gSugar 12gProtein 48g

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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