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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 Thai dish that’s as tasty as it is intriguing.

    This dish is known for its rich and spicy flavors, so intense that legend says 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 Thai kitchen and learn 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, I was super intrigued with the name… Crying Tiger!! Once I delved into the recipe, so robust and bold, I was roaring to try the tiger that cries.

    In the past, I 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.

    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.

    Using chopsticks to dip a piece of steak into the dipping sauce.

    It features steak marinated in savory sauces and spices, served with a spicy dipping sauce made from ingredients like fish sauce, lime juice, chili peppers, and herbs. Thai cuisine is known for balancing sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter flavors, and Crying Tiger is a perfect example.

    The name “Crying Tiger” is as intriguing as the dish. One story says the flavors are so strong and tasty that they could make a tiger cry tears of joy. Another story imagines a tiger crying because it wants the delicious grilled meat but can’t have it, showing how special the meat is.

    The name might also be a metaphor for the dish’s bold and fiery nature, with the spiciness and richness of the marinade and sauce being powerful enough to bring tears to your eyes, just like an encounter with a fierce tiger.

    Regardless of its origin, the name “Crying Tiger” highlights the rich, bold, and sometimes tear-inducing flavors of Thai cuisine, making it memorable for both its story and its taste.

    Sliced crying tiger beef on a wooden cutting board.

    What Cut of Steak is BEST for this Recipe?

    For Crying Tiger beef, choosing the right steak cut is key to getting the perfect flavor and tenderness. I look for cuts that are well-marbled and tender, but sturdy enough for the strong marinade and high heat.

    Sirloin is a great choice because it’s lean yet flavorful and budget-friendly.

    Ribeye is another excellent option with rich marbling and deep flavor. The fat melts beautifully on the grill or skillet, making the meat juicy and tasty.

    Flank steak is also a good choice. It’s leaner than ribeye but still flavorful, and its flat shape absorbs the marinade well and cooks evenly.

    Whichever cut I choose, I make sure it’s good quality and prepare it right 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: I am 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, gives a salty depth to the marinade.
    • Oyster Sauce: Gives a sweet and savory taste.
    • Brown Sugar: Balances the savory elements with its sweetness.
    • Garlic: Freshly minced.
    • Black Pepper: 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.
    • Tamarind Paste: Gives 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: Finely chopped or minced.
    • Thai Red Chilis: These gives the characteristic heat. Adjust the amount to suit your spice tolerance.
    • Red Chili Flakes: For some additional heat and texture.
    • Cilantro, Shallots, Scallions: Gives freshness and extra flavor. Chop them finely.
    • Black Pepper: Just a little.

    Crying Tiger Recipe

    1. Marinate the Steak: I combine all the marinade ingredients in a shallow bowl. Then, I add the steak to the marinade, making sure it’s well coated.

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

    Marinating the beef.

    2. Prepare the Crying Tiger Sauce: I mix together all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Then, I adjust the seasoning to taste and set it aside to let the flavors meld.

    The sauce in a stone bowl.

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

    I add the steak to the hot skillet or grill and sear it for 2 minutes on each side, then flip it every minute until it reaches my desired doneness. I use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness.

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

    4. Serve: I slice the steak against the grain. Then, I serve it 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, I 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 I always allow to rest for 10 minutes.

    Alpana’s Tips

    1. Selecting the Right Cut of Steak: I choose a steak that’s well-marbled for flavor, like 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: I marinate the steak for at least 30 minutes, but for a more intense flavor, I marinate it for up to 2 hours. If I marinate the steak in the refrigerator, I remember to bring it to room temperature before cooking. This ensures even cooking.

    3. Doneness Matters: I use a meat thermometer to check for my preferred level of doneness. Every cut and thickness requires a different cooking time.

    4. Resting the Meat: After cooking, I let the steak rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

    5. Preparing the Sauce: For the Crying Tiger sauce, balance is crucial. I 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, so I adjust the amount of chili to suit my heat preference.

    6. Serving Suggestions: I serve the Crying Tiger beef with sticky rice or jasmine rice to balance the strong flavors of the meat and sauce. I also add 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.

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

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

    As you sit back, satisfied with one good old steak, 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

    My 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

    4. Leftovers: Allow the leftover steak and sauce to cool to room temperature. Store the steak and sauce in separate airtight containers. 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.

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

    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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