How to Make Thai Beef Jerky Recipe

If you’re a fan of Thai cuisine, you’ll absolutely love the heavenly taste of Thai beef jerky. With this authentic Thai beef jerky recipe, you can now recreate this beloved dish right in the comfort of your own home. Imagine biting into chewy and crispy jerky that pairs perfectly with a Thai chili dipping sauce, bursting with flavors like lime, shallots, cilantro, roasted rice powder, and spicy Thai chili flakes!

What Makes Thai Beef Jerky Different

You might be hesitant to try Thai beef jerky if you’re not a fan of the American version. However, Thai beef jerky is a whole different ball game. In Thailand, the beef is sun-dried until the exterior is dry, but the inside retains a bit of moisture, unlike the dryer American jerky. The Thai beef jerky is then briefly deep-fried and served with a delightful sauce made of shallots, Thai dried red chili, lime, roasted rice powder, and fish sauce. Prepare your taste buds for an explosion of all your favorite Thai flavors!

The Thai Name for Thai Beef Jerky

In Thai, Thai beef jerky is known as “Nuea Daet Diao,” which translates to “beef that’s been sun-dried for a day.” It’s called that because in Thailand, the jerky is dried under the scorching 110-degree direct sun heat. It’s so hot that it probably only takes about 10 seconds for the beef to dry out. Talk about intense!

The Artisanal Process of Making Thai Beef Jerky

Thai beef jerky isn’t a quick 30-minute meal. It requires some effort, but just like any masterpiece, it’s worth it. Consider it an artisanal meal that’s perfect for a leisurely cooking session. While you can make it on a busy weeknight, it’s best to do the prep work earlier in the day or the day before. Trust me, when you take your first bite of the heavenly Thai beef jerky, you’ll realize that every bit of work was worth it. The beautifully crafted food will refresh your soul and bring smiles to your loved ones around the table.

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Ingredients for Thai Beef Jerky

To make Thai beef jerky, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb Milanese cut round steak: This thinly sliced, lean cut of meat is perfect for Thai beef jerky.
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced: Garlic adds depth and richness to the flavor of almost every Thai dish.
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper powder: White pepper is commonly used in Thai cooking for its pungent and spicy flavor.
  • 1.5 tsp coriander seeds, coarsely cracked: Coriander seeds add a bright, citrusy, and peppery flavor.
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce: This magical Thai ingredient brings savory umami flavors to your dish.
  • 2 tbsp thin soy sauce: Thin soy sauce adds a great savory note.
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar: Brown sugar’s caramel notes work well as a substitute for palm sugar commonly used in Thai cooking.
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying: You can use any oil that can handle high heat, such as peanut oil.

Preparing the Beef for Thai Beef Jerky

Start by cutting the Milanese beef into strips about 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Place the meat on a large baking sheet, ensuring that the pieces are spread out and not overlapping.

Drying Methods for Thai Beef Jerky

There are three different ways to dry your Thai beef jerky. Choose the method that works best for you:

1. Air Fryer Method

Using an air fryer is my favorite way to dry Thai jerky. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Turn on the air fryer to the dehydrate setting.
  2. Place a layer of beef on the rack, making sure the slices don’t overlap. If needed, do it in batches.
  3. Set the dehydrate time for 1 hour, flipping the beef halfway through.
  4. Once the beef feels dry-ish, soft, and elastic, remove it from the air fryer.
  5. Marinate the strips in garlic, pepper, coriander, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar for about 20 minutes.
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2. Oven Method

If you don’t have an air fryer, the oven method works well too:

  1. Place the meat on a large baking sheet, ensuring that the pieces are spread out and not overlapping.
  2. Set your oven to its lowest setting, around 120-220 degrees. Prop the oven door open slightly to lower the temperature further.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the oven and let the beef dry for about 30 minutes on each side.
  4. Marinate the strips in garlic, pepper, coriander, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar for about 20 minutes.

3. Sun Drying Method

If you live in a sunny area, you can try the traditional sun drying method:

  1. Lay the baking sheet with the beef outside in direct sunlight for about 15-40 minutes, depending on the heat.
  2. Flip the beef when one side feels dry to the touch and continue drying until the other side is dry.
  3. Once the beef feels dry-ish, soft, and elastic, remove it and marinate the strips in garlic, pepper, coriander, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar for about 20 minutes.

Cooking Methods for Thai Beef Jerky

Enjoy your perfectly dried Thai beef jerky with either the air fryer or stove method:

Air Fryer Method

  1. Once the meat has marinated, preheat your air fryer on the Air-Fry setting.
  2. Fry the beef for 3-5 minutes until it turns crispy. Keep an eye on it as it can quickly become blackened.
  3. Optionally, pour any extra marinade over the fried Thai beef jerky strips to add even more flavor.

Stove Method

  1. After marinating the meat, fill a wok or deep pan with about 3 inches of vegetable oil or your preferred frying oil.
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble when you drop in a bit of beef.
  3. Fry the beef in small batches, stirring constantly, for about a minute until it turns a deep brown color.
  4. Use a wire mesh strainer or slotted spoon to transfer the beef to a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
  5. Optionally, pour any extra marinade over the fried Thai beef jerky strips to enhance the flavor.
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Thai Beef Jerky Dipping Sauce

To make your Thai beef jerky even more heavenly, pair it with this flavor-packed Thai beef jerky dipping sauce. You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 shallot, chopped into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp roasted rice powder
  • 1/2-1 tbsp Thai red chili powder, or to taste

Serving and Storing Thai Jerky

Thai beef jerky is incredibly delicious and makes for a perfect beer snack. Serve it as an appetizer or enjoy it with sticky rice along with other dishes like Carrot and Cucumber Som Tum, Thai Omelette, or Larb. The possibilities are endless!

Thai Beef Jerky Tips

Here are a few tips to make the most out of your Thai beef jerky experience:

  • Prep the beef jerky over the weekend so you can have it as a quick weeknight meal later in the week.
  • You can dry the meat first and freeze it for up to 2-3 months. Just thaw it and marinate it before frying.
  • Make the dipping sauce a few days ahead to save time on the day of cooking.
  • If you prefer pork, feel free to substitute the beef with thinly sliced pork for delicious Thai pork jerky.

Once you’ve tasted your own homemade Thai beef jerky, you’ll understand why American beef jerky won’t ever taste quite as good. Tonight, treat yourself to a delightful Thai beef jerky dinner and don’t forget to share your delicious creation on Instagram @thaifoodie. I can’t wait to see your version!

Note: This recipe is slightly adapted from “Simple Thai Food” by Leela Punyaratabandhu.