Ultimate Pho Sate Recipe: Bold Flavors & Easy Instructions

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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We’ve all heard of pho, the Vietnamese soup that’s become a global sensation, warming hearts and bellies with its rich broth and fresh herbs. But there’s a twist to the classic that’s been gaining popularity for its depth of flavor and satisfying heat: pho sate. This variation incorporates the spicy, peanutty goodness of sate sauce, transforming the traditional pho into a bowl of comfort with a kick.

Diving into the world of pho sate, we’re embarking on a culinary adventure that marries the delicate balance of Vietnamese cuisine with the bold, complex flavors of sate. It’s a dish that promises not just to nourish but to excite the palate, perfect for those chilly evenings or whenever you crave something a bit more exhilarating than your standard bowl of soup. Join us as we explore how to bring this delectable fusion to your kitchen, ensuring every spoonful is as memorable as the last.


After exploring the concept of pho sate, we’re excited to dive into the ingredients needed to bring this spicy, soulful dish to life. These components are key to achieving the perfect balance of flavors that make pho sate a standout.

For the Sate Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, tender inner part only, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili paste
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter, smooth or crunchy based on preference
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth, for integrating into the sauce

For the Pho Broth

  • 2 liters beef or chicken stock
  • 1 onion, charred
  • 1 4-inch piece of ginger, charred
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce, or to taste
  • Sugar and salt, to taste

For the Pho Bowl

  • 400g rice noodles, prepared according to package instructions
  • 300g beef, thinly sliced against the grain (for beef pho) or 300g chicken (for chicken pho), cooked and shredded
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • A handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Bean sprouts
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Lime wedges
  • Sliced chili
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha

Gathering these ingredients is the first step in crafting a delectable bowl of pho sate. Each element plays a vital role in the overall taste and experience of the dish. From the robust depth of the pho broth to the spicy kick of the sate sauce and the freshness of the optional garnishes, every component contributes to the dish’s complexity and allure.

Required Tools and Equipment

After exploring the rich and vibrant ingredients that make pho sate an unforgettable dish, we’ll need to ensure we have the right tools and equipment on hand to bring this culinary masterpiece to life. Proper preparation makes the cooking process smoother and more enjoyable, allowing every flavor to shine through in the final dish.

Large Stockpot

A large stockpot is crucial for preparing the pho broth. It needs to be big enough to accommodate the bones, spices, and enough water to create a rich, flavorful broth. A capacity of 8 quarts or larger is recommended.

Skillet or Saucepan

For crafting the sate sauce, a sturdy skillet or saucepan is necessary. It should conduct heat well to sauté the garlic, shallots, and to properly toast the spices, bringing out their full flavors.

Fine Mesh Strainer

A fine mesh strainer is indispensable for achieving a clear, fragrant broth. After simmering, the broth will contain bits of spices and bone fragments that need to be removed. This tool ensures the broth is smooth and pleasing to the palate.

Spice Grinder or Mortar and Pestle

To grind the spices for both the broth and the sate sauce, a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle will be required. Freshly ground spices offer a more potent flavor than their pre-ground counterparts, elevating the dish to new heights.

Pho Bowls

Traditional pho bowls are large and crafted to hold the broth, noodles, meat, and garnishes comfortably. They ensure that every spoonful is a perfect blend of broth, noodles, and toppings.

Ladle and Tongs

A ladle is essential for serving the hot broth over the noodles and meat. Tongs will be helpful when it’s time to place the meats into the bowls neatly. Together, they help in assembling the pho sate in an orderly and appetizing manner.

Equipping our kitchen with these tools and equipment helps streamline the cooking process, allowing us to focus on the art of balancing flavors and textures unique to pho sate. With everything in place, we’re ready to dive into the cooking process, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience that leads to a deliciously spicy and soulful meal.

Make-Ahead Instructions

Preparing pho sate in advance can be a game changer for those bustling days or when you want to impress guests without being tied to the kitchen. Here’s how we recommend getting a head start on this delicious, aromatic dish.

Sate Sauce Preparation

The heart and soul of pho sate lie in its sate sauce, rich with layers of flavor. To make this ahead of time:

  1. Start by grinding your spices using a spice grinder until they are a fine powder. This will include ingredients such as dried chili, lemongrass, garlic, and shallots.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat, add a bit of oil, and then cook your spice mixture for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant—be careful not to burn them.
  3. Add peanut butter (or your choice of nut butter), fish sauce, and sugar, cooking and stirring until all ingredients are well combined and the sauce thickens.
  4. Let the sate sauce cool, then transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Broth Preparation

The broth is another component you can prepare ahead of time:

  1. In your large stockpot, bring your broth base (beef or chicken broth works wonderfully) to a gentle simmer.
  2. Add your spices — star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamom pods. Allow these to simmer in the broth for at least an hour to infuse the liquid with their aromatic flavors.
  3. Strain the broth using a fine mesh strainer to remove the spices and any solids, letting the clear, fragrant broth remain.
  4. Cool the broth quickly by placing the pot in a sink filled with ice water, stirring to lower the temperature.
  5. Once cooled, transfer the broth to storage containers. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Prepping Garnishes

While fresh garnishes are best prepared the day of serving, you can get a jump on this by:

  1. Washing and drying fresh herbs like cilantro and Thai basil, wrapping them in a slightly damp paper towel, and storing them in a zip-top bag in the fridge.
  2. Slicing your chili peppers, green onions, and lime wedges, and storing them in separate containers in the refrigerator.


Embarking on the culinary adventure of making pho sate is a rewarding journey. Let’s dive into the steps required to bring this aromatic and flavor-packed dish to our table.

Preparing the Sate Sauce

First up, the heart of the dish, the sate sauce. In your skillet, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat. Then, add two minced garlic cloves and a tablespoon of minced ginger, sautéing until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in two tablespoons of red curry paste, cooking for another minute to release its flavors. Now, incorporate a cup of beef stock, a tablespoon of fish sauce, two tablespoons of peanut butter, and a tablespoon of sugar, whisking until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Let it simmer for about 5-10 minutes until it thickens slightly. Once done, set aside the sate sauce; it’s now ready to elevate our pho broth.

Making the Pho Broth

In a large stockpot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add in your pho spices—star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and coriander seeds, all bundled in a spice bag. Introduce 2 pounds of beef bones and 1 sliced onion to the pot. Reduce the heat to low and let it gently simmer for 3-4 hours, skimming any foam or impurities that rise to the surface. This slow simmer is crucial for a clear, deeply flavored broth. After simmering, strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot, discarding the solids. Season it with salt and fish sauce to taste. Keep the broth hot over low heat as we prepare the remaining components.

Cooking the Noodles and Protein

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 400 grams of pho noodles and cook according to the package instructions—usually, they only need a few minutes. Drain them and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and prevent sticking. Set aside. For the protein, thinly slice 400 grams of beef. The trick is to freeze the beef slightly, making it easier to achieve those wafer-thin slices required for perfect pho sate.

Assembling the Pho Sate Bowls

The moment we’ve been waiting for—it’s time to assemble our pho sate bowls. Divide the cooked noodles among four large bowls. Arrange the slices of raw beef on top. Here’s where the magic happens: Ladle the hot broth over the beef. The heat from the broth will cook the beef slices to perfection. Spoon a generous amount of sate sauce into each bowl, allowing each person to stir and blend the sate to their preference. Garnish with thinly sliced onions, chopped green onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime for that burst of freshness. And there you have it, a bowl of pho sate, brimming with flavors and ready to transport you with every spoonful.

Serving Suggestions

After crafting your delightful bowl of pho sate with tender slices of beef, aromatic broth, and a spicy kick from the sate sauce, complementing it with the perfect side dishes and garnishes can elevate this dish to new heights. Here’s how we love to serve it to make the meal unforgettable.

Fresh Herbs and Vegetables

Adding fresh herbs and vegetables not only brings a crunch but also enhances the flavors. We recommend:

  • Thai basil or cilantro, for a refreshing touch
  • Bean sprouts, for a satisfying crunch
  • Thinly sliced green onions and jalapeños, for an extra kick

Arrange these on a separate plate so everyone can personalize their bowl according to their taste preferences.

Lime Wedges

A squeeze of lime adds a bright acidity that balances the richness of the broth and sate sauce. Serve lime wedges on the side for that tangy finish.

Hoisin and Sriracha Sauce

While the sate sauce provides a good amount of spice, offering hoisin and Sriracha sauce on the side allows diners to adjust the sweetness and heat level to their liking. Place these in small bowls so they can be added spoon by spoon.

Drinks Pairings

The spicy and rich flavors of pho sate beg for a refreshing beverage. We love pairing it with:

  • A cold beer, which helps in cutting through the spice
  • Iced Vietnamese coffee, offering a sweet contrast

These drink options ensure a well-rounded dining experience, providing a cooling respite to the dish’s heat.


Finish off this hearty meal with something light and refreshing. A simple plate of sliced tropical fruits like mango or dragon fruit can cleanse the palate and offer a sweet end to the meal.

Serving pho sate with these side dishes and garnishes not only complements its flavors but also turns the meal into a feast for the senses. Whether enjoying a quiet dinner at home or hosting friends, these serving suggestions are sure to impress.

Storage and Reheating

After indulging in the savory and aromatic flavors of pho sate, you might find yourself with leftovers. Fret not, as we’ll guide you through the best methods to store and reheat your pho sate, ensuring it remains as delightful as when you first served it.

Storing Pho Sate

Storing pho sate properly is crucial for maintaining its freshness and flavors. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Separate the Components: Separate the broth, noodles, protein (be it beef, chicken, or tofu), and garnishes into separate airtight containers. This prevents the noodles from becoming soggy and the garnishes from wilting.
  2. Cool Before Refrigerating: Allow the broth to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Placing hot broth directly in the fridge can increase the temperature inside your fridge, risking the spoilage of stored food.
  3. Airtight Containers: Use airtight containers to store the broth and other components in the fridge. This helps keep the flavors intact and prevents the broth from absorbing any odors.
  4. Refrigerate Promptly: Once cooled, refrigerate the components promptly to prevent bacterial growth. The broth and components can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheating Pho Sate

Reheating pho sate the right way can help preserve the dish’s integrity and flavors:

  1. Reheat the Broth Separately: Pour the broth into a pot and heat it over medium heat until it is simmering. This helps to preserve the clarity and flavor of the broth.
  2. Boil Noodles Briefly: If the noodles have turned hard in the fridge, boil them for a minute or two just to loosen them up. Then, drain and set aside.
  3. Warm Proteins and Garnishes Lightly: For the best texture, proteins can be warmed in the simmering broth, while garnishes like vegetables and herbs should be left at room temperature or warmed very slightly in the broth or in a microwave for a few seconds.
  4. Assemble as Fresh: Once everything is heated through, assemble your pho sate as you would when freshly made. Pour the hot broth over the noodles and protein in a bowl and add your garnishes on top.


We’ve walked through the delightful journey of making pho sate, blending the warmth of traditional Vietnamese pho with the fiery kick of sate. It’s a dish that promises to take your taste buds on an adventure with its rich flavors and aromatic garnishes. Whether it’s a cozy dinner at home or a special meal to impress guests, pho sate stands out with its unique fusion of tastes. Remember to enjoy it with a cold beer or a refreshing Vietnamese coffee and finish off with some tropical fruits for a complete dining experience. Here’s to many enjoyable meals of pho sate, where every spoonful is a celebration of flavors!

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