Vietnamese chile lemongrass sate, or tương ớt sa tế is a spicy chile oil that will elevate any dish. This bold sauce gets its flavor from plenty of garlic and fragrant lemongrass. You can add it to marinades for any meat, spice up stir fries, soups and noodles. I even put it on my eggs. Two sunny side up eggs with soy sauce and chile lemongrass sate? That's a good start to the day.
Tương ớt sa tế is also the finishing ingredient in bún bò Huế , or spicy Vietnamese beef noodle soup. The broth is flavored with lemongrass already, so the chile lemongrass sate adds an extra burst of color and flavor. Seriously. This sauce does everything.
Vietnamese Chile Lemongrass Sate Sauce (Tương Ớt Sa Tế): Step-by-step instructions
There's only four ingredients in this Vietnamese chile lemongrass sate. I use both fresh Thai chiles and red chile flakes. For the best results, buy fresh stalks of lemongrass and fresh thai chiles, then pulse them in a food processor until they're uniformly ground.
I don't have a food processor strong enough to grind lemongrass, so I bought it frozen. The end product will be slightly less fragrant, but there's less cleanup!
Start with a cup of neutral oil, like canola, and heat it on medium low in a small saucepan. When the oil comes to temperature (you can stick a chopstick into it and see bubbles forming, or drop a tiny bit of lemongrass in to see if it bubbles), put your lemongrass in. You're trying to infuse the oils with the lemongrass flavor without burning it, so make sure to keep the heat medium low. After about 5 minutes, add garlic and continue to heat for another 10 minutes.
Next, add the fresh chile. Use any hot red chile you want. I used Thai, or birds eye chile peppers. These were also pre-chopped and frozen, but again, if you're feeling dedicated, using fresh ingredients that you chop yourself will give the best results.
After about 10 more minutes, when the fresh chiles have lost their sharp, raw chile smell and the oil has been colored red, add the chile flakes. Continue to heat for another 10 minutes, keeping the temperature low. At this stage, be extra careful not to burn the chile flakes, otherwise the tương ớt sa tế will be bitter.
Before cooling and jarring, add about ½ teaspoon of salt to taste. I don't like this too salty, because I will often eat it with soy sauce.
Vietnamese chile lemongrass sate will last about a month in the fridge. If there isn't enough oil in the sauce after you jar it, pour a little bit more on top to create a protective layer of oil that will help the sauce last longer.
Vietnamese Chile Lemongrass Sate Sauce (Tương Ớt Sa Tế)
- 1 cup neutral oil like canola
- 1 head garlic, minced
- ½ cup lemongrass, finely chopped
- ½ cup fresh red chiles, finely chopped Thai or Birds Eye recommended
- ¼ cup chile flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Heat 1 cup oil on medium low heat
- When oil comes to temperature, add lemongrass and let it heat for about 5 minutes
- Add garlic and continue to heat for about 10 minutes
- Add fresh chiles and stir. Continue to let mixture heat for another 10 minutes, being careful not to burn the ingredients.
- Add chile flakes and heat for another 10 minutes
- Add salt to taste, and cool before jarring
- Add a thin layer of extra oil on top to keep sate fresh longer.