Our authentic Thai satay sauce recipe makes a genuine Thai peanut satay sauce from scratch to go with Thai satay skewers. This isn’t an easy satay sauce recipe made with peanut butter – there are loads of those out there – although I do take a few short-cuts. This is a traditional Thai peanut sauce that you’ll want to treat as a cooking project.
If you’re planning on making the Thai chicken satay skewers recipe for sate gai, which will make you Thai satay chicken in the Southern Thailand style that you’ll find at street food stalls all over Thailand, then you need this recipe for the Thai satay sauce to serve with it.
It’s one of our best recipes with nuts, even if it is a bit of a cooking project, and even if I do take a few short-cuts. This is not one of those easy peanut satay sauce recipes made with crunchy peanut butter. If you want one of those, try our Chinese style peanut sauce in this chicken salad recipe, or make this spicy peanut butter noodles recipe without the noodles. (Although it’s really delicious with the noodles.)
There are so many easy peanut butter satay sauce recipes out there (including my own) that I wanted to share the authentic Thai satay sauce recipe we make, which is a slightly tweaked recipe from chef David Thompson’s Thai Street Food cookbook, for those of you who want to try making a genuine Thai peanut sauce from scratch.
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Authentic Thai Satay Sauce Recipe from Scratch for Thai Satay Skewers
This authentic Thai satay sauce recipe is going to make you a genuine Thai peanut satay sauce from scratch to go with Thai satay skewers – whether it’s for the Thai chicken satay skewers for sate gai, which we recently share, or the Thai pork satay skewers for sate moo, which are so popular in Bangkok.
But do note that this is a bit of a cooking project, and that’s partly why I shared such an easy recipe for the Thai chicken satay skewers, so that you can spend more time on the satay sauce. And trust us, it’s worth it!
So, what do I mean by a cooking project? Well, David’s recipe calls for dried chillies to be soaked, coriander and cumin seeds to be roasted – separately, and a spice paste to be pounded in a mortar and pestle, before you even make the peanut sauce.
While I will share a few short-cuts, below, do try the authentic Thai satay sauce recipe first so you can compare the two. But set aside some time to do this properly and treat it as a cooking project: put on some music and open a bottle of wine. Even better, make it with a loved one.
If you’re not a fan of doing so much work for one meal, then you could always double the recipe and gift a jar to a Thai satay sauce loving friend. Or triple it, so you can gift some and have another jar in the fridge for yourself.
I know somebody is going to message me and ask if it freezes well. I have no idea as I’ve never had enough left to freeze. And I have to confess that as with curry pastes, I love making satay sauce from scratch, as I find it therapeutic, and even meditative.
Just a few tips to making chef David Thompson’s authentic Thai satay sauce recipe – with a few tweaks – to go with your Thai satay skewers.
Tips to Making this Authentic Thai Satay Sauce Recipe from Scratch
As usual, I only have a few tips to making David Thompson’s authentic Thai satay sauce recipe to go with your Thai satay skewers.
The chef’s recipe calls for dried red chillies to be soaked. Terence can often be found in our kitchen scooping out some dried chillies from a big bag of the things to be soaked. Don’t miss this step if you can help it.
Just make sure to drain the soaked chillies before pounding them, and pop on some plastic gloves before you squeeze out the liquid. If you don’t have any, wash your hands thoroughly in soapy water.
And if you can’t source dried chillies, yes, you can use fresh chillies, they just have a different flavour – they’ll be sharper and will also lack that smokiness.
The chef’s Thai satay sauce recipe calls for the coriander seeds and cumin seeds to be pan-roasted separately in a fry pan or skillet, and then pounded in a mortar and pestle. Next shortcut: use dried ground coriander and ground cumin instead.
You’ll also need to use a mortar and pestle to pound the chopped chillies and other ingredients, so if you don’t have one, now is the time to buy a mortar and pestle. You’ll get a lot of use out it, from pounding spices to crushing peanuts.
Looking for a shortcut to pounding the paste? Sure, you could throw the ingredients in a food processor or blender, but the paste won’t taste as good, as the ingredients are torn apart, rather than pounded together.
Another shortcut? You could always use a store-bought Thai red curry paste, just don’t tell the chef I suggested that if you ever meet him…
Coconut cream is essential to create the richness required of this recipe, but instead of opening a second can of coconut milk that’s required a bit later in the recipe, just add water to some coconut cream.
Authentic Thai Satay Sauce Recipe
- 4 dried long red chillies
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp fresh lemongrass - chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh galangal - chopped
- ½ tsp kaffir lime zest
- 1 tbsp purple shallot - chopped
- 2 tbsp garlic - chopped
- ½ tsp fresh coriander root - cleaned and chopped
- 1 ½ cups coconut cream
- 2 tbsp palm sugar - or brown sugar
- ½ cup peanuts - finely ground
- ½ cup coconut milk - or water or stock
- 1 tbsp fish sauce - or to taste
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- pinch salt - optional
- Prepare the dried long red chillies by cutting off the stalks, slicing them lengthways, scraping out the seeds, then soaking them in enough water to cover them for around 15 minutes until soft.
- While the chillies are soaking, in a dry frying pan or skillet, toast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds separately until fragrant, shaking the pan often to prevent the seeds from burning. Transfer the spices to a mortar and pestle and pound them finely, then set them aside.
- Drain the soaked chillies to squeeze out as much liquid as possible (wash your hands thoroughly with soap afterwards), then roughly chop them.
- Using the mortar and pestle, pound the chopped chillies with a ¼ tsp salt, then gradually add the following ingredients, one at a time, pounding each ingredient into a fine paste, before adding the next ingredient, starting with the chopped fresh lemongrass, then chopped galangal, then kaffir lime zest, chopped purple shallots, garlic, and coriander roots.
- Once you have finished pounding the paste, stir in the dried spices.
- In a small pan over medium, heat 1 cup of the coconut cream and simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the paste, stir it in to combine it well with the coconut cream and fry it gently for 4-5 minutes until fragrant and oily, stirring regularly.
- Add the palm sugar, stir it in, then moisten the sauce with the remaining half cup of coconut cream, simmer for a few minutes, then stir in the ground peanuts, simmer for five minutes, then moisten with ½ cup of coconut milk (or equivalent of stock or water).
- Add the fish sauce (add a quarter or half first then taste, then add more as you like), chilli powder and optional salt, taste and adjust further if needed to suit your palate. It should be a little oily, rich, dark, sweet, nutty, and spicy.
- Remove the satay sauce from the heat and set it aside for an hour or half an hour if you have time – “it will improvely happily”, as David Thompson says. Serve it at room temperature – or warm it up just a little – with your satay skewers.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make this authentic Thai satay sauce recipe for a Thai peanut sauce from scratch to serve with your Thai satay skewers as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.