Thai Crying Tiger Beef with Nam Jim Jaew Sauce

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By Published On: January 22nd, 2021

Juicy marinated beef is paired with an intensely fragrant and spicy Thai dipping sauce. Find out why the tigers were crying for this classic, and delicious Thai favourite…

Thai Crying Tiger Beef with Nam Jim Jaew Dipping Sauce

Crying Tiger Beef (เสือร้องไห้) is an amazing Northern Thai Food that features juicy, tender beef marinated for extra flavour then charred on the grill. The beef is then paired with a delicious Nam Jim Jaew dipping sauce. The sauce is an intense hit of salt, sweet, sour and spice. A perfectly balanced combination that makes for a truly uniquely Thai dish.

What is crying tiger beef - เสือร้องไห้?

As legend has it, this dish gets its name from local folklore. Villagers believed that the tigers who attacked their cows and ate them would often leave the brisket section. The villagers would then use this leftover to create the delicious and revered dish Crying Tiger. They believed that the tigers would be so sad to miss out on this feast that they would weep!

An easy to follow recipe

Putting together Crying Tiger beef is simple. There are three easy steps to make at home.

  1. Marinate the beef (I generally use a ribeye steak, because delicious). It's not as tough than brisket and easier/quicker to cook.
  2. Make the dipping sauce. A little grind of a couple of ingredients and then mix it all together.
  3. Grill the steak and serve. 10 minutes and you're done.

Step by step - a delicious crying tiger beef

We start the recipe by marinating the steak. In order to get a good balance of flavour we use a combination of umami hits. Dark soy, oyster sauce and fish sauce is a heady, intense marinade that we spread over the steaks. This will permeate the meat and part a delicious, South-East Asian hit of flavour.

Then, I simply pop the steaks on a plate and smother over the delicious sauce (trying not to lick all my fingers - because, raw beef!) I typically will marinate for about 1 hour, but longer is obviously better. That said, 1 hour will still give a great flavour when cooked on the grill. If you're leaving for more than an hour, cover and refrigerate and when you're ready, bring to room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Making the Nam Jim Jaew / Nam Chim Jaew dipping sauce

Next up, it's making the dipping sauce Nam Jim Jaew. This sauce is made using dried red chillies, so gives a smokier, deeper and more lingering spice hit than fresh. My recipe features 4 dried chillies (with the seeds in) which will give a good hit of chilli heat. I sometimes make with more and sometimes less depending on who I'm cooking for. One chilli will still give a nice heat and obviously more chillies obviously = more heat!

One other ingredient of note is rice. This dipping sauce features ground sweet/glutinous rice which gives a wonderful nuttiness to the flavour. As is the norm with South-East Asian cuisine, the four elements of flavour are covered - namely:

Lastly, a fresh element of finely chopped shallots and cilantro are added to the mix to complete the complex, flavourful sauce.

To create the nuttiness of the rice, we toast the rice and chilli in a dry pan until browned - they'll hop around the pan when they're done. We then tip them into either a pestle & mortar or spice grinder and grind them into a roughish powder (like coarsely ground black pepper).

The ground rice & chillies are combined with all the other ingredients to form the sauce. This sauce will stay fresh in the fridge for weeks, and only improve with time. Make it in advance and forget about it. My Nam Jim Jaew recipe will be enough for 4 people, the recipe below allows you to multiply ingredients to make for more... Please, feel free to make gallons of the stuff. It's so delicious!

Now that you've marinated the steak and made the sauce, it's now just a case of grilling your meat. I used ribeye steaks for this version and cooked for 4 minutes each side on a super-hot BBQ grill. The sugar in the marinade will create a great char on the meat, while the meat remains juicy and pink. Serve the beef sliced and topped with a little sauce. Serve the remaining sauce in small individual bowls for each person to dip the meat. I typically serve this with either some fluffy jasmine rice or some chewy steamed sticky/sweet/glutinous rice. I'll also serve with some salad vegetables or a simple stir-fried vegetable to counteract the meat. This crying tiger beef is really a stand-out Thai delight - perfect any time of the year come rain, hail or shine. Flavour like this should be savoured 365 days a year.

More delicious Thai recipes to cook at home.

So, as you can see Crying Tiger Beef is a wonderful authentic Thai dish to try at home - jammed with flavour and texture. To sample more of my Favourite Thai Recipes, can I tempt you with one or all of these?

How to make my Thai Crying Tiger Beef with Nam Jim Jaew Sauce

Crying Tiger Beef with Nam Jim Jaew

Thai Crying Tiger Beef with Nam Jim Jaew Sauce

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Prep Time20 minutes
Marination1 hour
Total Time1 hour 20 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 301


For the Beef Marinade

For the Nam Jim Jaew dipping sauce


For the Marinade

  • Combine together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and fish sauce.
  • Pour the mixture over the steak and smooth over both sides to cover. Leave to marinate for at least 1 hour, turning once or twice to recoat the meat in the marinade.
    If you're marinating for longer, cover the meat and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
    When you're ready to cook, remove from the fridge and bring up to room temperature for 30 minutes or so.

For the Nam Jim Jaew dipping sauce

  • In a dry frying pan, add the rice and the chillies. Dry fry to toast the rice. The grains will bounce around the pan a little. Remove when lightly browned.
  • Tip the rice and chillies into a pestle & mortar or spice grinder and grind into a rough powder (like a ground black pepper consistency).
  • Combine this mixture with all the other dipping sauce ingredients and stir well. Add a little water if you like, to thin out the mixture. refrigerate until needed.

Cooking the beef

  • Cook your steaks on a BBQ grill or in a griddle/skillet pan, until cooked how you like. I cooked my ribeye steaks (10oz/300g) for around 4 minutes per side for a 'medium' cook.
  • Rest the meat for 2-3 minutes then thickly slice and arrange on a platter or board. Drizzle over a little of the sauce and serve.
  • Serve with small individual bowls of the dipping sauce for each person.


You can use any cut of beef you like and serve the sauce with it. You can also serve Nam Jim Jaew with any other meat or poultry (or indeed vegetables), so don't feel it MUST be beef.


Nutrition Facts
Thai Crying Tiger Beef with Nam Jim Jaew Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 301 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 69mg23%
Sodium 1941mg84%
Potassium 456mg13%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 25g50%
Vitamin A 163IU3%
Vitamin C 6mg7%
Calcium 27mg3%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course | Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine | Thai
Keyword | Crying Tiger, Nam Chim, Nam Jim, Nam Jim Jaew

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