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ShaCha Sauce The Chinese Satay

Shacha Sauce (沙茶醬) is the Chinese version of the Satay sauce that is found in south east asia. Instead of peanuts, it is made with dried lizard fish. The overall flavor of this dish is savory and it is commonly used in soups, hotpots and Stir Fry.
Shacha was said to have been introduced to China via an expat who was living in south east Asia. It is primarily eaten by people from the Fujian region, taiwan and TeoChew.

How to Use ShaCha Sauce

As a child, this was my go to dipping sauce for anything beef. The iconic tin can always bring back memories of when I was a kid. If you ever go to any hotpot restaurant, they will always provide this as a dipping sauce option.
It is savory unlike peanut satay which has a very sweet nutty taste. I would say that peanut satay would be more similar to barbecue sauce than this version.
I personally love cooking with ShaCha sauce as it pairs very well with beef. Stir Frys like Beef Brocoli or even Bean Curd and pork are excellent dishes that can be cooked with it. In fact, if you are ever short on a sauce idea, you can always use satay with some water. It will transform any ordinary dish to an exceptional one.

ShaCha Sauce Taste and Texture

ShaCha Sauce is basically grounded fish and shrimp that is submerged with oil. It has a gritty texture and When you bite into it, it has a slightly soft chew. Using it with any meat or even vegetables, will give the food a meaty savory flavor. For that reason, ShaCha is often used as a dipping sauce.

Where to buy ShaCha Sauce

BullHead is known throughout both Asia and North America. You can find their version in any large asian supermarket. Oddly enough, the price is not that much different in Taiwan and in North America. Amazon also carries The Sauce but it is considerably more expensive. If you have an Asian Supermarket, I recommend that you go there instead.


The original and most popular version is the one made by “Bull Head”. For whatever reason they call it Barbecue Sauce but Satay would be more correct. The video below shows it being used in hotpot and stir fry. You can also get a glimpse of its manufacturing process. In the begining Taiwanese locals are saying that the other version simply lack the flavor and fragrance of the Bull Head Sauce.

WaLong a major supplier of sauces in North America, seems to have their own Copy Cat Version. If you click on the link, you can see that the can packaging is almost the same. The flavor is almost identical as well I personally never could tell the difference between the two. On average, the knock off version cost about 1-2 dollar cheaper. Interesting enough, the authentic version seems to be Halal Certified. For those who need to follow the islamic dietary law, this is the sauce for you. Lee Kum Kee also have their own version of this sauce.

The Negative Reviews

The reviews on amazon are a little bit funny. Most of the one star reviews are people complaining about a dented can. The others are complaining that it smells like rotten fish or it contains some allergen like soy and Sesame. I personally wouldn’t call the smell as rotten fish, but it does have a strong aroma to it. Once you start cooking with it, the smells transform to something simply amazing.

Health and Nutrition

ShaCha Sauce Ingredients List

Soy Bean Oil, Dried Fish, Garlic, ginger, shallots, sesame, coconut powder, dried shrimp, chili powder, salt, pepper.
Allergen Information:Soy Bean, Fish, Shrimp, Sesame, Coconut.

Shelf Life

This sauce basically have zero preservative in it and it has a shelf life of 3 years. It’s almost indestructible. They recommend that you refrigerate after opening.

Nutrition Facts

Unfortunately, this is not as healthy as the Samabl Oelek that I reviewed earlier.
The information is per 2 tbsp
Calories:151 Calories from Fat(20 g)
Total Fat: 15 g Saturated Fat: 3 g Trans Fat:0
Cholesterol 9 mg
Sodium: 57 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 2 g Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Protein 2 g

ShaCha Sauce Recipes

Aside from dipping meats into ShaCha Sauce, you can actually do a variety of stir frys with it. I personally love combining this sauce Lao Gan Ma. The two combination will give the dish a spicy meaty kick.

Beef Broccoli with ShaCha Sauce

Beef broccoli is definetly one of the most popular Asian American Chinese dish. However, you can boost the flavor of the beef with a dollop of Satay Sauce.

Ingredient List

1/2 lb Beef Slices
1/2 lb Broccoli
1 tbps soy sauce
2 tbsp Shao Xing Wine (Use Sherry Wine as a Substitue)
1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
3 Tbsp of ShaCha Sauce
2 cloves of Minced Garlic
Corn Starch plus Water as needed.


1) Add some salt to the beef and broccoli then Brown the Beef and Remove.
2) Splash some water onto the pan then place broccoli inside and cover to Steam.
3) Once the broccoli is almost bright green, toss in the beef and garlic and saute until you smell the garlic.
4) Add the Satay first then add in all the liquid ingredient except for the corn starch.
5) Mix well and then pour in corn starch until the desired consistency is reached.
The amount of Sauce that you add into the dish can vary depending on your taste. If it is not strong enough, add in more. It is important that you taste as you go so that you ensure your food is seasoned properly.

Technique Discussion

1) Adding salt to all the food before cooking ensures that the salt will penetrate deep into the food. Adding salt at the last moment, will cause food to taste saltier than necessary.
2) By Splashing some water into the pan at this stage, will deglaze the pan and add flavor to the Broccoli.
3) Adding the beef and garlic before it turns bright green will ensure that you do not overcook the Broccoli.
4) The satay should be added in first as it is not a liquid. The liquid from the rest of the mixture will help break it up and distribute it throughout.
5) Corn starch is not really necessary unless you want a thicker texture to the sauce. You should add it depending on the taste.

On a side note, a lot of Chinese restaurant would often marinade the beef in Baking Soda to tenderize it. This technique is called velveting. Although my recipe does not call for it, you can definitely incorporate it if you want a softer texture meat. Just be aware, that they also typically deep fry the beef afterward. Don’t be surprised if yours turn out a little different.

I hope you find my article on ShaCha Sauce to be helpful, please visit the Article page for more!

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