Last week, a beautiful new cookbook arrived, authored by fellow Chicago-area cook Leela Punyaratabandhu. You may know her better as “SheSimmers” – a blog on home Thai cooking. The day I received it, I made a batch of Panang (Phanaeng) Curry, which I didn’t photograph, and last night a batch of Tiger Cry Beef. There’s no doubt in my mind that this book is a winner.
I didn’t have much doubt: the SheSimmers recipes for Pad Si Ew (Phat Si Io), Pad Thai, and many others have been insightful into the techniques and cultural explanations of the dishes, and as with most Ten Speed Press books, it’s gorgeously photographed.
The core of Tiger Cry is a basic salsa: Tomato, garlic, shallot (instead of onion), chile, and cilantro. The curve balls are that the dried chile isn’t toasted, soaked and ground, but just added into the rough-chopped paste of roasted garlic, shallot and cherry tomatoes; and the additions of brown sugar and fish sauce. I made a full batch of the sauce knowing it would taste wonderful — with a bit of skepticism about the quantity of chile that proved unfounded — but barely 1/3 of the steak since there’s just the two of us and we’re trying to keep our portions down (and I used skirt instead of her choice of rib, since that’s what I had on hand). Note that I made the sauce a little looser, as the book suggests, with a little more lime and fish sauce.
I’ve had dishes labeled Tiger Cry in Thai restaurants, but they’ve been stir-fry-type dishes: probably a meat and vegetables are combined with a sauce like this one. It’s been a long time since I’ve ordered it, so I can’t say if it matches, but it doesn’t matter. This is the good stuff.
The recipe below makes plenty of sauce for two to three times the amount of steak, and even the marinade is a little generous.
Since I have some of the sauce left over, I may combine some steak or chicken in flour tortillas with some fresh salad-y things, or perhaps a slaw, and make Thai-cos. Hey, if it works for Korean, why not Thai?
Recipe: Tiger Cry Beef
Based on a recipe from “Simple Thai Food” by Leela Punyaratabandhu
Marinade and Steak:
1 Tbs (15ml) Oyster Sauce
1 Tbs (15ml) Soy Sauce
1 Tbs (15ml) Vegetable Oil
1 tsp (5ml) white pepper
9.5 oz (270g) skirt steak
Mix above ingredients together, and marinate for an hour, while everything else is prepared
4 oz (120g) cherry tomatoes (about 12)
1 shallot, unpeeled
3 large cloves garlic
2 Tbs (30ml) chopped cilantro
2 Tbs (30ml) lime juice
2 Tbs (30ml) fish sauce
2 Tbs (30ml) crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp (about 3ml) brown sugar
- Preheat grill or broiler with a tray to prevent disastrous loss of vegetables
- Grill the shallot, garlic and tomatoes until blackened in spots. Turn often to prevent burning, and remove items are they’re done
- Peel the garlic and shallot after they’ve cooled off
- Chop or mash the shallot, tomato and garlic
- Add the cilantro, fish sauce, lime juice, pepper flakes and sugar
I forgot to take a picture of the sauce — it has a dangerous appearance, with all the pepper flakes, bright red and fragrant from the lime.
- Turn the grill back on, if it was turned off, and allow to get quite hot
- Grill the steak for 3-4 minutes per side, until medium rare
- Rest the steak for several minutes while preparing the vegetables
- Serve with rice and vegetables, and a hefty dollop of Tiger Cry salsa