Vietnamese Sate Sauce

Vietnamese Sate Sauce

This Vietnamese Sate Sauce (or Sa Tế) is so flavourful and versatile that once you've made it, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. 

veitnamese sate sauce in a jar up close

The Hidden Gem of Vietnamese Cuisine

Sa Tế is one of those hidden treasures. If you've ever visited a pho restaurant, you may have seen it—often relegated to a corner of the table, right beside the chopsticks and spoons. A small, unassuming jar of something that looks spicy, but what exactly is it? If you've been overlooking it, I have one word for you: Shame! This sauce is a game-changer and deserves to be in the spotlight.

veitnamese sate sauce in a pan

What to Expect in a Spoonful

Get ready for an eruption of flavours! The Sa Tế sauce is:

  • Garlicky: Courtesy of fresh garlic cloves.
  • Spicy: Thai chillies bring the heat but not overwhelmingly so.
  • Sweet: Long sweet red peppers offer a subtle, delightful sweetness.
  • Umami: Fish sauce? Yes, please!
  • Bright: Lemongrass adds that citrusy, almost minty, flair that elevates the sauce to a whole new level.

I assure you, it's unlike anything you've ever tasted.

A Sauce for All Occasions

What's magical about Sa Tế is its adaptability. Use it to marinate meats, spice up your corn on the cob, or even blend it into your seafood dishes. 

Elevate Your Meats

Whether you're grilling, stir-frying, or roasting, Sa Tế can breathe life into your meats. Rub a generous layer on chicken / Pork Chops before throwing it on the grill, or mix it into your meat marinade for an instant upgrade. Its rich and complex flavour profile melds wonderfully with the natural flavors of beef, pork, and lamb as well, making it a go-to sauce for virtually any meat dish.

The Perfect Seafood Companion

Seafood can often be delicate in flavor, requiring a careful balance of spices and sauces. Enter Sa Tế. Just a dash can transform a simple grilled fish or shrimp dish into a culinary masterpiece. Try mixing it into a seafood stir-fry or using it as a dipping sauce for deep-fried calamari.

Noodle Soups and Beyond

Yes, we've all seen it on the table at pho restaurants, but have you tried adding Sa Tế to other kinds of noodle soups? It’s phenomenal in a bowl of ramen or even in lighter soups like a chicken noodle or vegetable broth. Its concentrated flavour enriches the soup base, making every sip a treat for your taste buds.

Zesty Corn on the Cob

sate sauce on corn on the cob

Summer barbecues will never be the same once you've slathered your corn on the cob with Sa Tế. The garlicky and spicy undertones are a match made in heaven with the sweetness of the corn. It's a fusion of flavors that's so simple, yet incredibly satisfying.


Planning a wine and cheese night? Imagine a luxurious platter featuring an assortment of cheeses, cured meats, fruits, and crusty bread. Now add a small bowl of Sa Tế sauce in the middle. Its unique flavour works surprisingly well with creamy cheeses like Brie or Camembert. Plus, it adds a pop of colour and a twist that will have your guests asking for the recipe.

Quick Snacks and Sides

Don’t forget the simpler things. A dab of Sa Tế can spice up a sandwich, elevate a bowl of rice, or even make a plate of fries an adventure in eating. Its versatile nature makes it a perfect companion for almost any quick meal or side dish.

By now, it should be clear that Sa Tế is not just a sauce; it's a multipurpose flavor enhancer that can adapt to almost any culinary setting. It might just become your new kitchen staple, an ever-reliable buddy for those times when your dish needs that extra 'oomph.' With its rich and dynamic profile, Sa Tế is your ticket to a journey filled with culinary excitement.

I hope this expanded section gives you a richer understanding of how Sa Tế can grace your table and tantalize your palate in more ways than one. Enjoy experimenting!

Customizable Heat

This is my version, tuned for balance rather than mouth-burning heat. But hey, if you want to set your mouth on fire (or other places where the sun don't shine), who am I to stop you? Feel free to add as many or as few Thai chillies as you like! Proceed however but with great caution 😅.

Long-lasting Goodness

Properly stored in an air-tight jar, Sa Tế will be your trusty companion for up to a month in the fridge.

veitnamese sate sauce in a jar


This recipe makes about 2 cups worth of sauce.

  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 3 shallots
  • 3-4 stalks of lemongrass (or 4 tbsp of frozen lemongrass)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 2 long sweet red peppers
  • 3 Thai chilli peppers
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup of oil (any neutral oil will do)


1. Preparation: Add garlic, shallots, lemongrass stalks, and sweet red peppers to a food processor. Blend until all are finely chopped but not pureed. You might need to do this in batches if you have a small food processor.

2. Cooking: Transfer the blended mix to a pan. Add your additional seasonings—fish sauce, sugar, chilli flakes, and paprika. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the mixture starts to bubble slightly. Set aside to cool.

3. Storage: Transfer the cooled sauce to an air-tight container and refrigerate. It will keep well for up to a month.

So there you have it! Sa Tế is not just a sauce; it's an experience. An experience that, like the richness of our Vietnamese heritage, is layered, complex, and infinitely rewarding. Cook, taste, share, and as always, enjoy every bite (or spoonful)!

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