Saturday, February 14, 2015

Crying Tiger (Seua Rong Hai)

Thai food is about my favorite thing in the entire world, and one of my favorite Thai dishes is Crying Tiger (Seua Rong Hai), which is grilled beef over rice with a savory, spicy sauce. It's rare to find it on the menu at most Asian restaurants, at least locally, as it's a "northern" Thai delicacy, which seems to be the purview of a select few establishments here in the Piedmont Triad. There are umpteen Crying Tiger recipes online, and as with most Asian recipes, it's hard to find two that are even remotely similar. I went with my best guess in attempting to recreate the flavor and style of the dish, as prepared at Thai Chiang Mai in High Point, NC, and Rearn Thai in Greensboro, NC. Damn if I didn't pretty well nail it this evening.

What you need (makes four servings):
4 six-ounce top sirloin filets (or similar cuts of beef)
1½ cup soy sauce
1½ cup fish sauce
1 cup cilantro, crushed
¼ cup brown sugar
tomato (diced)
clove garlic (crushed)
6 Thai chili peppers, sliced thin
½ cup lime juice
1 cup green onions, chopped
cucumber, sliced thin; dice several sections to go in the dipping sauce
rice (about 1½ cups to make 4 servings).
leaf lettuce 

What you do:
The beef will need to marinate prior to cooking. To make the marinade, pour 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup fish sauce, ¾ cup cilantro, ⅛ cup brown sugar, ¾ of the diced tomato, ½ the garlic, about 2 of the 6 chili peppers, and ½ the lime juice into a large bowl. Stir briskly to blend and then place the beef in the bowl (I seasoned the beef with some garlic salt and cracked black pepper). Let marinate in the refrigerator for about one hour.

Mix the remaining soy sauce, fish sauce, cilantro, brown sugar, tomato, garlic, chili peppers, lime juice, green onions, and the diced cucumber; distribute in four small bowls to go with each individual beef dish.

Ideally, the beef should be grilled, but I cooked mine in a cast iron skillet in hot Thai chili oil. For this method, heat the skillet on high until the oil is hot. Drop in the meat and cover. After about two minutes, turn the heat down to medium-high and pour in the marinade with all ingredients. Let the beef cook for three to four minutes per side. When done, remove the beef from the skillet and cut into thin slices, against the grain. Serve over rice on a bed of lettuce and cucumber, with the dipping sauce on the side.

To go with mine, I made a Damned Rodan's Dirty Firetini. It took some doing, but I finally talked the neighbors out of calling the fire department.

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