Known for being one of the Indonesian national dishes, gado-gado is very popular and is sold in almost every part of the country. It’s available in every neighborhood corner, offered in small, medium, and big restaurants, and is a staple in many hotels around tourist areas.
Gado-gado is a salad dish consisting of a mix of raw and lightly-cooked vegetables, dressed with peanut sauce. The name comes from the word gado, meaning to eat something without rice, but the term gado-gado refers to mixed things. Gado-gado literally means ‘mix-mix’ and doesn’t exclusively refer to food, but also to things and situations. For example, when someone uses both English and Indonesian at the same time, people say that that person is using bahasa gado-gado, or “mixed language”. Or, a crowd consisting of people from different backgrounds can also be referred to as gado-gado.
When it comes to the dish, different regions have their own style of gado-gado. Gado-gado Surabaya is from Surabaya, gado-gado Padang from Padang, and so on. The differences lie in the ingredients used (such as additional yellow noodles/vermicelli or boiled young jackfruit), as well as the spices used for making the peanut sauce. Although peanuts form the base of the sauce, sometimes, ingredients such as cashew nuts, coconut milk, kencur, or even potatoes, are also added.
Gado-gado Jakarta is also referred to as gado-gado Betawi, referring to the region of Jakarta and its outskirts. Compared to other variants, Betawi-style gado-gado is simple and down to earth, but very tasty and refreshing. For the dressing, deep fried peanuts are ground and mashed with chillies, garlic, salt, tamarind extract and palm sugar. Some people add a tiny bit of shrimp paste to it, and some don’t. A tablespoon of sweet soy sauce helps deepen the flavor and the color. As a final touch, squeeze kaffir lime juice and add the zest to really elevate the sauce. Traditionally, the process of blending the peanut sauce is done in a giant mortar made of stone. Once ready, all the other ingredients are added to the mortar and mixed together.
The most common vegetables used in gado-gado Jakarta are fresh cucumbers, boiled young jackfruit and sweet corn, blanched morning glory, chayote, long beans, white cabbage and steamed potatoes. Fried tofu and tempeh are also added. A hard-boiled egg, fried shallots and kerupuk (crackers) complete the dish.
Gado-gado is often served as a healthy snack in the middle of a hot day, or as a main dish during a mealtime. The dish itself is quite satisfying, but to make it more filling, rice or lontong (rice cake cooked in banana leaves) are commonly added.Print
Gado-gado, a salad of mixed blanched vegetables topped with peanut sauce, is one of Indonesia’s most popular dishes. This recipe is for Jakarta-style gado-gado.
For the salad:
- 2 medium potatoes, washed, steamed
- 1 small chayote, washed, steamed
- 50 gr beansprouts, washed
- 50 gr white cabbage, washed, shredded into bite sized pieces
- 1 carrot, peeled, washed, julienned
- 50 gr spinach/morning glory, cut into bite sized pieces, washed
- 2 long beans, cut into smaller pieces, washed
- 1 small cucumber, washed, cut into bite sized pieces
- Water for blanching/steaming
- 2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
- 100 gr fried tempe, diced into smaller pieces
- 2 pcs fried tofu, diced into smaller pieces
- Fried shallots for garnish
For the peanut dressing:
- 150 gr peanuts
- 3 bird’s eye chillies
- 2 big red chillies, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp tamarind extract
- 50 gr palm sugar, shaved
- 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
- Salt to taste
- 100 ml drinking water
- 2 small kaffir limes
- Cooking oil for deep frying
For the salad:
- Blanch each vegetable separately for 1 minute, starting from the lightest colored to the darkest colored vegetables: beansprouts, cabbage, carrot, spinach and long beans. Set aside.
- Peel and dice the steamed potatoes and chayote into bite sizes, set aside.
- Arrange all the salad ingredients in one big flat plate for easier assembly.
For the peanut dressing:
- Deep fry the peanuts in enough oil to cover them over medium heat until golden brown (around 5 minutes).
- Transfer the peanuts to a plate layered with kitchen towels to absorb the excess oil and let cool.
- Once the peanuts are cool, crush using a mortar and pestle or a chopper. Set aside.
- Fry the chillies and garlic over medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Using a mortar and pestle or a blender, make the peanut sauce by blending the chillies, garlic, crushed peanuts, palm sugar, sweet soy sauce, salt, tamarind extract and 100 ml of drinking water until smooth. When using a blender, you may press Pulse several times for a chunkier paste. Add a little bit more water if necessary.
- Transfer the sauce to a bowl.
- Cut the kaffir limes into half, remove the seeds and squeeze the juice all over the sauce. Mix well. Include some of the lime zest for extra fragrance and flavor.
How to assemble the dish:
- Put all the vegetables (beansprout, cabbage, spinach, carrot, beansprout, long beans, potatoes, chayote and cucumber), tofu and tempeh in a big bowl. Add the peanut dressing and mix everything together.
- Transfer the portion to an individual serving plate.
- Sprinkle some fried shallots, and top with hard boiled eggs.
- Alternatively, put all the vegetables, tofu and tempeh in a big serving plate with a separate bowl for the dressing. Everyone is to help themselves with the assembling.
- Crush the fried peanuts for easier blending.
- For the vegan version, omit the hard boiled eggs.
- In this recipe, young jackfruit is not included as it’s hard to find outside Indonesia.
- Adjust the amount of chilies based on your preference.
Keywords: Vegetarian peanut sauce salad