Thai Grilled Beef Salad, Yum Neau Yang

Thai Grilled Beef Salad - Yum Neau Yang by The High Heel Gourmet 14

I haven’t written a lot about Thai salad in the past. From what I remember so far it’s only been Yum Woon Sen, the bean thread salad and if you count Som Tam and Larb as salad then that’s it. Don’t think that the Thais don’t eat salad; they do. They eat a lot of salad, in fact. I just haven’t gotten to the salad as a series yet.

One reason I think Thai’s variety of salads is still not so well known to the western world yet is…they are usually darn spicy! If you’ve ever been to Thailand and ordered a salad, mistaken that it would be the “salad” you’re used to—a pile of vegetables with dressing—you would either be disappointed because it burned your tongue until you couldn’t taste anything else, or it was nothing at all like what you consider a salad.

Our “Yum”, or Thai salads, are so much different. First of all, there is no oil in our salad dressing. Maybe there will be some coconut milk, or some “Nam Phrik Pao”, the chili jam which is a Thai condiment used in many recipes such as “clams with chili jam sauce”, Tom Yum or Tom kha. And any vegetables, if used, will quickly wilt if you don’t eat them right away.

Second, some Yum or salad dishes might not contain any vegetables, but some do. Look at the recipe for “Glass Noodle Salad” I posted here. The vegetables are only green onion and cilantro But Som Tam has a lot of vegetables in it. It depends.

The Thai have a few different names to call their salads: Yum ยำ, Plah พล่า, Tam ตำ, Larb  ลาบ.  These are all considered salad. And we don’t eat them before the meal, we eat them together with other dishes, and of course steamed rice, which calms the spice down quite a lot.

A traditional Thai full course meal always consisted of every taste: sour, sweet, some yummy fat, and salty. In Thai they would say, Preaw=sour, Wan=sweet, Mun=rich taste, Khem=salty. A full-course menu would have 4-5 different dishes that follow these parameters. These are the meals served at a middle class home all the way up to the royal court, but not at a poor household or a country home.

Unfortunately, this tradition no longer holds in the modern Thai household, and hasn’t for some time. I didn’t grow up with this myself, even though we had at the least 2-3 items on the dining table, but they weren’t all calculated based on this flavor parameter anymore. After I’m done introducing you to many different kinds of Thai foods, I can show you the full-course meal of the Thais in the mid-Rattanakosin era, but I can’t do it now. I mention it so you would understand where is the slot for the salad in the full array of Thai dishes.

Yum is normally in the sour-tasting category, to help break up the richness of fried foods or curries in coconut milk.

This time I’m going to give you a recipe for Yum Neau Yang, or grilled beef salad.

This was a blog reader request. He had eaten Yum Neau at a restaurant in his home town in the US. His expectation of this dish is going to be slightly different than the authentic beef salad.


As I’ve explained previously, Thai restaurants outside Thailand serve things that cater to their customers’ expectations. If they stay authentic with every dish, their business might have less chance of surviving.

Authentic Yum Neau Yang actually looks more like a strip steak than a salad.

Thai Grilled Beef Salad - Yum Neau Yang by The High Heel Gourmet 12

Wait, I know someone is about to ask if Thai people really eat beef or steak, right?

Of course we do. May be it’s not as often as pork or chicken, but we do eat beef. Our beef is not as premium nor as tender as American beef, so we’ve had to find a way to make it chewable somehow. So we serve beef already cut up. We won’t normally serve food that has to be cut at the table, as I mentioned in Thai eating etiquette.

Why do we call this steak “salad”? Because we toss them with a dressing, and in Thai culinary rules, yum or salad doesn’t have to be vegetable dominant.

Yum Neau is one of the recipes that makes me miss my father. This is another “drunkard dish”. (He drank a bit.) It is very commonly served at bars so people can eat this while they drink. The taste of this dish is so intense even alcohol can’t dull your taste buds enough to not taste it.

The reader who requested this told me that the dish he ate had some cucumber in it, too. Probably because vegetables are cheaper than meat, and restaurants can increase the volume of the dish easily by adding them and, on top of that, the restaurant might be trying to please farang customers who are not used to ordering beef salad and getting a sliced beef strip steak instead.

Well, if any bar in Thailand serves this dish to a customer with cucumber tossed with beef (some here even add tomatoes…aghhhh), that bar would be considered “stingy” and there may never be a re-visit to that bar, or at the least never a re-order. Have you ever seen any drunkard who wants to eat vegetables after getting drunk? I always want to eat noodles in hot broth at the end of a drinking night.

Anyhow, it’s not so wrong to eat this dish with vegetables. Thai people would eat this dish with vegetables, but not toss them in with the salad. They would add the vegetables on the side, so the veggies won’t get soggy from all the condiments. Remember, there is no oil in Thai salad. We like to eat raw vegetables crunchy.

OK, the agreement between you and me is: I am going to give you the authentic recipe for Thai grilled beef salad, but if you are “Mai Rak Dee ไม่รักดี” (go find a translator!…I’m not telling you what I just said) and want to add vegetables, you can do that on your own. (And don’t forget to adjust the amount of the dressing accordingly, too.)

Thai Grilled Beef Salad - Yum Neau Yang by The High Heel Gourmet 10


Beef (I chose ribeye because I need some fat to make the beef flavorful and tender. You choose what you want.) 8 oz.

Lime juice 3 tablespoons

Fish sauce 2 tablespoons

Sugar (I used granulated sugar, but palm sugar is okay, too) 1 tablespoon

Garlic, sliced thinly 1 clove (or as much as you want)

Shallot or onion sliced thinly 2-3 tablespoons

Lemongrass (Must have, you can’t do without it. If you have the tip part left from making the curry paste, you can use that) slice them thinly or you will be sorry,  2-3 tablespoons

Mint leaves 1 cup

(Optional) Green onion

(Optional) Cilantro

(Optional) Dried chili flakes or fresh chopped up chilis, as much or as little as you want. I would prefer none, but that’s not right.

Decorative or side vegetables:

Your choice, pretty much. I would suggest cucumber and lettuce but decorative is decorative, so I can’t pick your favorite garnish vegetables for you.


1) Season the beef with salt and pepper.

Thai Grilled Beef Salad - Yum Neau Yang by The High Heel Gourmet 11

2) Grill the beef to your liking.

Thai Grilled Beef Salad - Yum Neau Yang by The High Heel Gourmet 1

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Do not cut the beef yet!

3) Arrange the plate, squeeze the lime, slice the lemongrass, onion and garlic, pick the mint leaves off the stems. There are many things to do so DO NOT TOUCH THE BEEF YET.

Thai Grilled Beef Salad - Yum Neau Yang by The High Heel Gourmet 2

4) Mix the condiments together: fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. This is your dressing. Taste it and adjust it to your personal preference.

5) Okay, the beef must have cooled down by now. You can slice it.

Thai Grilled Beef Salad - Yum Neau Yang by The High Heel Gourmet 4

6) Toss the sliced beef with herbs, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, mint leaves, cilantro,  green onion (if used) and the dressing.

Thai Grilled Beef Salad - Yum Neau Yang by The High Heel Gourmet 5

Thai Grilled Beef Salad - Yum Neau Yang by The High Heel Gourmet 6

7) Served it over a bed of lettuce and sliced cucumber (or put them on the side where they belong 😉 )

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Thai Grilled Beef Salad - Yum Neau Yang by The High Heel Gourmet 9

8) Finish eating it within an hour of preparation would be best.

Thai Grilled Beef Salad - Yum Neau Yang by The High Heel Gourmet

13 thoughts on “Thai Grilled Beef Salad, Yum Neau Yang

  1. I think I know the taste of the dressing. At the Filipino grocery where we buy most of our ingredients, they. actually sell fish sauce already mixed with lemon juice. The name is Patismansi……patis ( fish sauce ) and calamansi ( Philippine lemon ).

      • No. believe it or not, Filipino dishes don’t have chilis. The only spicy ingredient that we add is sweet bell peppers. However, there’s a place in the Philippines where natives eat spicy foods… they’re known for that…. but still, it’s nothing compared to the rest of the wotld. XD

        I’ve read some articles about the characteristic of Filipino food. It’s totally different from the rest of Asia. I guess it’s due to 400 year Spanish influence. We saute a lot, the Spanish way… garlic, onions, tomatoes… even the names of our food are Spanish…….. menudo, rebosado, caldereta, mechado, all kinds of arroz ( rice ) , like we eat a lot of sausages we call chorizo….breakfast is hot choco and churroz and pan de sal with white cheese (… queso blanco)

      • yes, the adobo. Do you know, no two adobos are alike ? Some like it saucy, some like it soupy. some like it almost dry. Some marinate the chicken first in the marinade, then boil it, some fry it first then boil it in the marinade.. some like it sour, some add little vinegar, some don’t add soy sauce at all, some add coconut milk, instaed of soy sauce…. but , take note, no fish sauce in adobo. XD

      • No, it’s not the Filipino version. I’ve never heard of adobo with fish sauce. But that would work, too, I guess. Instead of soy sauce, use fish sauce. Maybe, I’ll do that, too. there’s even one Filipino -American who adds oyster sauce. Seriously though, it’s not adobo anymore. basic ingredients are soy sauce, vinegar, pounded garlic, bay leaves, and freshly ground peppercorns. It’s so simple , really. it’s what we cook if we feel lazy. It’s dump all. But it’s supposed to be Philippines’ national food, ha ha.

        I’ll tell you a secret to adobo ➡ Once cooked, do not eat it right away. Let it stand up to maybe the next day. XD I’m serious. That’s why if we want to serve it today, we would cook it the day before. Or 2 days…. heck, even one week…. and the truth is, that was the food Filipinos brought on the ship during the Spanish times when they sailed from the Philippines to Mexico…. 9 months ? And there was no soy sauce then, by the way… just plain vinegar and salt.

  2. The first time I had this dish (I’ve only eaten at Thai restaurants in the U.S.) it was listed as Yum Neau. The other places I’ve gone have it listed at “Crying Tiger” and when I order Yum Neau they all look at my funny. Are these actually different dishes?

    • Yes, they are totally different dishes.

      Yum Neua is a central dish but Crying Tiger is the Issan or Northern dish.

      The taste of Yum Neau is sour, salty and sweet with a hint of chili. The Crying Tiger is sour salty and spicy with no trace of sweetness at all.

      The ingredients for Yum Neau are medium to welldone grilled beef (very little blood) lemongrass, mint leave, shallot (optional), lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and dried red chili flake or fresh cut chili. The Crying Tiger’s ingredients are medium rare grilled beef (lots of blood), toasted rice, shallot sliced, mint leave, green onion, cilantro, lime juice, fish sauce (absolutely no sugar) and dried red chili flake.

      You can identify them by toasted rice or lemongrass too. If there is some toasted rice powder in it, that’s definitely Crying Tiger. Same goes with Yum Neau, if there is lemongrass sliced in it, that’s so NOT Crying Tiger.

      Are these explanation clear enough?

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