Salmon Satay with Peanut Sauce


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lime slices and salmon skewers on a grey countertop

Thai-style satay spices are used to marinate salmon for this versatile Thai-Style Salmon Satay with Peanut Sauce. Serve with peanut sauce on the side for an extra flavorful addition.

The longer I live in Thailand the more I realize how much I have to learn. It’s the ironic plight of expats – the longer you live in a place, the more aware you become of how much there still is to know.

Fortunately, this is a nation of people who are very patient and exceedingly kind. After two and a half years, a discussion with my Thai language teacher made me realize that the way I was saying that I didn’t want plastic bags at my grocery store check-out really wasn’t all that polite. In fact, he said, it sounded very strange. For 30 months, at least twice a week, I’ve been saying it wrong.

So I did what any hapless, determined expat does in these situations and soldiered on. I adapted, and I’ve been getting bigger smiles than usual when I buy my bags full of mangos and cereal and assorted basil.

(And really, despite my language issues, between the blog and the amount of cooking I do just for Frank and I, that grocery store should name a wing after me.)

salmon skewers with peanut dipping sauce on a grey countertop

The same goes for the food of Thailand. The more I taste, the more I realize how many foods and flavors I still don’t know. At lunch, I walk out into the wonderland of street vendors and roadside cafés and people toting bright, saucy things in plastic bags (always in a plastic bag) and want to taste it all.

But just like language, food is filtered through the lens of my cultural roots, and I can never hope to get it all right. This is actually a rather liberating thought. I worry less about getting it *just* right, and let all this great inspiration around me lead wherever it may.

This week that was in the direction of salmon satay.

dipping sauce in a small glass jar

Satay, you may already know, is a Southeast Asian style of grilled protein, coated in a mixture of spices, served on a stick.  Thai satay includes turmeric to give it a bright yellow hue. Chicken satay was a favorite of mine long before I had any clue I would live in Thailand. But it’s not just the smoky, well-seasoned skewers that are so good. It’s that peanut sauce on the side that no one can ever seem to get enough of. Peanut sauce may be the number one request I hear from tourists in restaurants around Thailand, but it’s not terribly common. The one way to be sure you’ll get it is to order satay.

This satay and peanut sauce combination goes so well with salmon that it’s great all on its own. I also love it over ramen noodles (I made a simplified version of Ginger Scallion Noodles, and piled the salmon right on top.)

salmon skewers over ramen noodles in a wooden bowl

Adaptation can be a very good thing.

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Thai-Style Salmon Satay

Thai-style satay spices are used to marinate salmon for this versatile grilled dish. Serve with peanut sauce on the side for dipping!
Prep: 45 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 4


  • Bamboo Skewers
  • Grill or Grill Pan
  • Grater or Microplane


  • 1 stalk Lemongrass, outer leaves, base and top stalk discarded
  • 2 1" pieces Fresh Turmeric, peeled (or substitute 2 tsp. ground dried turmeric and 1 teaspoon warm water)
  • 1 tsp fresh Grated Ginger
  • 1 tsp minced Fresh Lime Zest
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Goriander
  • 1 tsp Light Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Light Coconut Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped Roasted Peanuts (use Tamari for gluten free)
  • 1 1/2 lb Fresh Salmon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 Lime, thinly sliced


  • Using the finest slats of a grater (I use a Microplane), grate the lemongrass, turmeric, and ginger into a mixing bowl. Add the lime zest, cumin, brown sugar, coconut milk, soy sauce and peanuts and whisk to combine. Add the salmon cubes to the bowl, stirring to coat in marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Prepare a grill (or a grill pan on the stove) over medium heat. Thread the salmon and lime slices evenly onto bamboo skewers. Grill until fish is opaque in the center, turning halfway through cooking, 5-8 minutes.
  • Serve with peanut dipping sauce (below).

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $10.00
Keyword: easy dinner, easy, weeknight-friendly, gluten free, seafood
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Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce

Serve this slightly sweet and subtly spicy Thai-inspired dipping sauce with spring rolls, grilled meat, over noodles, or just about anything!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 cup


  • Saucepan


  • 1 cup Light coconut milk (235 mL)
  • cup Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 2 tsp Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)
  • 1 tsp Sriracha (Asian chili sauce - use more or less, to taste)


  • Pour coconut milk into a small saucepan over medium heat. When the coconut milk begins to boil, reduce heat and whisk in remaining ingredients. Simmer for 5 minutes, until thickens slightly. Remove from heat. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $3.00
Keyword: dipping sauce, homemade sauce, peanut dipping sauce
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. just a big flag- if you prepare this for a gluten free friend, SOY SAUCE IS NOT GLUTEN FREE unless you buy the special gluten free kind. in fact, one of the largest ingredients in soy sauce is not just soy, but wheat


    1. Thanks so much for your note – that was a complete oversight! I’ll update the recipe to be sure it clearly indicates that.

  2. I also feel the same way! I can never get something “ethnic” quite right: it always turns out Italian…. Well I guess the thought is what counts! And the result is often delicious anyway!

  3. Oh my god. It’s been wayyyyy too long since I last had satay! My dad is from Indonesia and makes some baller satay. When we visited my grandparents in Surabaya one summer, we had the most amaaaazing fish. Oh man. I am definitely bookmarking this to try!

  4. This looks amazing Jess! I usually see chicken satay at restaurants but love the switch up to salmon. And the peanut sauce sounds delicious with this. Well done!

  5. Jess, that salmon satay is gorgeous! I love salmon pretty much any way I can get it, but this would surely be a treat. The folded up limes between the chunks of fish are very cute. Love this one!

  6. Adaptation can be a very good thing! Oh how I love peanut sauce. Our local Thai does the best version that I’ve found around here. Somehow they manage to cook the thin chicken so it’s still nice and juicy. Well now I want Thai food!

  7. Sounds so delicious! Might be the right thing for our barbecue tomorrow night.
    Am very envious of you to be able to snack at Thai Streetfood Stalls anytime you like 🙂

  8. Me Talk Pretty ….I will blame this on the iPad but I am having difficulties with my native tongue!!!

  9. Some of the funniest episodes in expat memoirs (Like Lunch in Paris and Sweet Life in Paris) come from misuse of language. I guess French is tough. Can’t imagine trying to learn Thai. Kudos to you. Keep smilin’.