Barbecued beef is so spicy, even the big cat had a bawl

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 October, 2011, 12:00am


This Thai dish of charcoal-grilled steak, served thinly sliced with a sauce containing copious amounts of chilli, seems straightforward enough. After all, the steak-and-condiment combination is common in many other world cuisines. However, it is known to Thais by a peculiar name, seua rong hai, or 'crying tiger'.

One story the dish's name is said to originate from involves a tiger that once killed a cow. He found the loin and began his meal there, enjoying the bovine's most tender sections, right up to the neck. Once he finished the prime cuts and reached the other parts, however, chewing became increasingly difficult and his feast had to come to an end.

The fact that all the succulent meat on the cow had been exhausted, combined with the fatigue from trying to get through the tougher flesh, made the tiger cry.

Another origin of this tearful name has less to do with sadness or frustration, and more with the physical reaction caused by eating the dish. It is said the chilli dipping sauce served with the steak, known as nam jim, was so spicy that it reduced a fierce tiger to tears. Of course, the reaction also applies to humans. Some call the dish weeping or howling tiger. The intensity of tears in these names matches the amount of chilli it's eaten with.

There are even suggestions that the name comes from the sound of the beef fat dripping into the fire.

To make this, we suggest using David Thompson's recipe from Thai Food. Marinate 150 grams of rump steak in three to four tablespoons of light soy sauce for an hour, then grill over a high heat until it's done as you like. Rest for the same amount of time and slice thinly.

Meanwhile, combine three tablespoons of lime juice with two of fish sauce, an optional pinch of white sugar, a very large pinch of roasted chilli powder, a finely sliced red shallot and one tablespoon of chopped coriander leaves. The sauce should be hot, sour and salty.

Eat it and weep!