Cook the Book

Grilled Steaks With Roasted Tomato Dipping Sauce (Crying Tiger, or Suea Rong Hai Kap Jaeo Ma-Khuea Thet) From 'Simple Thai Food'

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[Photograph: Erin Kunkel]

Like son-in-law eggs, this "crying tiger" dish of grilled steak with spicy tomato sauce has a mysterious name. No one really knows if the tiger is crying because the steaks are good or bad, or if the sauce is just so spicy that it generates tears. I'm inclined to believe the latter, because if you're grilling rib-eye, it'd be a shame to serve it tough. Leela Punyaratabandhu doesn't take a stance on the name in her new cookbook, Simple Thai Food, but she does present a killer recipe for roasted tomato dipping sauce to go with the steak. Thick with cherry tomatoes, shallots, and garlic, the sauce takes a decidedly Thai turn with a generous pour of fish sauce and a big squeeze of lime juice. Sugar and a whopping 2 tablespoons of red pepper flakes bring the sweetness and the spice for a sauce that's just as good with cucumber slices as is it steak slivers.

Why I picked this recipe: Grilled steak is one of the first dishes I hanker for when the weather turns warm.

What worked: This spicy and tart tomato relish is a great match for rich rib-eye.

What didn't: If you have a below-oven broiler, you will likely not be able to soften the shallot before totally incinerating the exterior. Next time, I'd move the tray of vegetables into the still-warm oven to soften after charring them.

Suggested tweaks: I couldn't find sawtooth coriander, and I thought the sauce was just fine without it. I had a hard time breaking apart the shallot using a spoon, so I transferred the sauce-making to my mortar and pestle. It worked great. I cooked the steak indoors in a cast iron skillet and used the "flip-every-30-seconds" method, which I prefer to Punyaratabandhu's. I also cooked the steaks to 125 degrees instead of 140.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Simple Thai Food to give away this week.

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