If you've been to Isaan Thai restaurants, you may have seen this Thai fried sun-dried beef on the their menus or even tried it already. In case you're curious, "nua" means beef in Thai, while "dad" means sunlight, and "deaw" means one. Basically, "nua dad deaw" means beef that's been sun-dried for a day. Isn't Thai such an easy language? 😛
The Thai sun-dried beef is on the saltier side of things, but it's definitely not too salty. Or at least it shouldn't be. The stuff is really addictive when eaten warm, fresh off the pan. You can enjoy it with rice, sticky rice, and so many other dishes such as somtum or Thai sour curry. My dad likes to hand-tear the thing into sweet little strips and enjoy it with his beers!
If you're lucky enough to be living in a country where the sun shines brightly most days like Thailand, then it's so easy to accomplish the right texture of Thai-style sun-dried beef. You can just put the meat in a drying rack and hang them outside your house. However, if you live in a gloomier part of the world, you can still make this by drying the beef in an oven at 85 °C for 4.5 hours.
How to Choose Your Beef for Thai Sun-Dried Beef
I personally don't have a favorite cut for this, but because I'm not a big fan of beef fat, I tend to go with any one that comes with less fat. So many people I know, including my family and friends, love beef fat, and they think the best beef cut for nua dad deaw is the one that comes with a lot of fat. As I make at least 1 kg of sun-dried beef each time, I always share it with other people. And, of course, they're happy to take the fatty parts! Please note, though, that even if you don't like beef fat either, you should still get a cut with some fat because it'll make your beef dry and cook much better.
How to Prepare Your Beef for Thai Sun-Dried Beef
If you buy beef from a butcher who can actually cut the beef for you, then that's perfect. Butchers just have THE most amazing knives ever, don't you think!! Like, my knives will never be able to cut anything like theirs. Anyway, you want to ask them to slice the cut into pieces that are about 1.5 cm thick. If you buy your beef from the supermarket, then you can cut it with a knife by yourself at home. The thickness will still be the same. This is all the initial cutting I do. I normally cut the beef again into random shapes before I cook it. But some people like to cut the beef into strips at this point. You can certainly do that if you'd like your sun-dried beef to be strips. Be careful not to cut your strips too thin because the beef will shrink when the water has evaporated!
How to Cook Your Thai Sun-Dried Beef
Traditionally, Thai people fry the sun-dried beef in oil or grill it. I have an airfryer at home so I normally use that. This is when that little bit of beef fat comes in handy. It prevents the beef from being too dry when cooked in an airfryer. If you don't have an airfryer, then you can definitely fry it the traditional way. Just don't add too much oil if there's already a lot of fat in your beef. I should also mention that the grilled version is also very nice, but it takes a bit longer than frying. When I have the time, I like to grill my nua dad deaw too.
Now that you know all the secrets to Thai-style sun-dried beef or nua dad deaw, don't forget to give it a go and let me know if you like it!
Thai Fried Sun-Dried Beef | Nua Dad Deaw Recipe
- 1 kilogram beef
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 3 teaspoons ground pepper
- Slice your beef into 1.5 cm thick pieces.
- Marinate the beef with fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and ground pepper in a bowl. Let sit in the fridge overnight.
- Dry the beef where it can be directly exposed to the sun for 1 day (I place it in a drying rack I bought online) or in an oven at 85 °C for 4.5 hours. Make sure each piece of beef is not on top of each other.
- Collect the beef and divide it into your preferred portions.
- Take as much as you would like to eat and cut the beef into pieces in any shape you want. Freeze the rest of the sun-dried beef for later use.
- Fry the beef in an air fryer at 180 °C for 12 minutes. If using the traditional frying method, heat just enough oil to fry in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the beef when the oil is hot. Remove from heat when done.
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