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Sa Tế in a glass dish surrounded by chilis and a larger bowl of Sa Tế
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5 from 6 votes

Sa Tế (Vietnamese Lemongrass Chili Sauce)

This Vietnamese Sa Tế is the Lemongrass Chili Sauce that keeps well for ages, is SUPER easy to make and pairs well with vegetables and meats!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Asian, Vegetarian, Vietnamese
Servings: 20
Calories: 430kcal
Author: Jeannette


  • Food processor
  • Sieve


  • 200 g / 0.44 lb fresh chili (or to preference)
  • 50 g / 0.11 lb garlic
  • 50 g / 0.11 lb red shallot
  • 5 stalks lemongrass
  • 20 g / 0.05 lb galangal (optional)
  • 40 g / 0.09 lb dried chili flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 US cup annatto seeds
  • 1 Chinese cinnamon bark
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 US cup cooking oil (for annatto seeds)
  • 1 US cup cooking oil (for cooking aromatics)


  • Cut the chili so that you're left with just the red part of the plant and put them in the oven preheated at 180°C (356°F) to roast for 10 minutes or until dehydrated. Put them in a bowl to cool when ready.
    Tip: Line the tray with foil to prevent any sticking.
  • Meanwhile, finely chop the garlic, red shallots and galangal.
  • Chop the lemongrass roughly into 1-2 cm (0.4-0.8") segments.
  • Use a food processor to blitz the lemongrass, then pour into a bowl and set aside for later.
  • Repeat the previous step with the roasted chilis.
  • Pour the annatto seeds into 2 US cup oil in a saucepan and keep the heat on low to infuse the color into the oil for 3-5 minutes or until red.
    Use a sieve to strain the seeds from the oil into a bowl.
  • In a new saucepan or wok, combine 1 US cups oil with the star anise and Chinese cinnamon bark on low heat for 2 minutes or until the aromatics begin to bubble.
  • Remove the star anise and Chinese cinnamon bark and add the chopped garlic, red shallots and galangal to brown for 1 minute.
  • Pour in the lemongrass, chili, dried chili flakes, fish sauce, salt, sugar and chicken bouillon powder and stir for 10 minutes or until golden.
  • Pour in the annatto seed oil and stir to combine for 1 minute.
  • Let the Sa Tế cool and store in airtight containers to be enjoyed with your meals!


  • Use fresh ingredients. While all of the grown products can be found frozen, you'll get a much more potent flavor profile using the freshest produce.
  • Keep the heat low and steady. It may take a little longer, but cooking the aromatics using a low-medium heat prevents them from burning and brings out the best aromas.
  • Cook with a neutral-flavored oil. To preserve the taste of every ingredient, opt for oils that are not overpowering. Peanut, vegetable, canola, grapeseed and rice bran oil are all great options.
  • There are many varieties of chilis to choose from, but we like to use bird's eye chili for its spiciness. Other popular options for Sa Tế include the long red and green chilis or Thai chili, but any of your favorite ones will work for this recipe.


Calories: 430kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 3504mg | Potassium: 2292mg | Fiber: 21g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 13764IU | Vitamin C: 309mg | Calcium: 346mg | Iron: 17mg