Gado Gado – Indonesian Salad
When I first visited Indonesia, I happened to be there during Ramadan when street vendors seem to multiply, selling all kinds of prepared dishes to those fasting and not having the time or wanting to cook at home. I remember one street in Banda Aceh where vendors specialised in selling mostly sweet snacks and drinks for people to break their fast but one cart had gado gado (gado means mix and gado gado means mixes because this salad is made of so many different ingredients) where the ingredients were piled in distinct mounds inside his cart. He also had a wide stone mortar and pestle to grind the slightly spicy peanut seasoning. Gado gado can be eaten as a snack but it can also be a meal by itself. The slection of ingredients can include lettuce (as a bed for the salad), as well as rice cakes in a log shape (lontong) and tofu. I have also seen vendors include noodles. I prefer to use a limited selection of vegetables together with tempeh and here I give the classic peanut-based dressing but on some islands, they use a coconut milk based seasoning.
By Anissa Helou
- Yield:4 servings
- Prep Time:22 minutes
- Cook Time:8 minutes
- Total Time:30 minutes
For the dressing
8 ounces raw or roasted peanuts
6 mild red chillies, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon shrimp paste (terasi)
1 tablespoon tamarind paste, soaked in 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons palm sugar (substitute with Demerara sugar or light brown sugar if not available)
For the salad
2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled, sliced in medium thin circles
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, cut in wedges
5 ounces cauliflower florets, cooked al dente
5 ounces white cabbage, shredded fine, blanched
5 ounces asparagus beans, cut into medium pieces, cooked al dente
1 small cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
5 ounces tempeh, sliced into 4 portions, shallow fried in rapeseed oil
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
If starting with raw peanuts, spread them on a non-stick baking sheet and toast in the hot oven for 7 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool (skip this step if starting with roasted peanuts). Place roasted peanuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Put the peppers and shrimp paste in the food processor and process until you have a fine paste. Add to the peanuts. Then, strain the tamarind paste over the peanuts and chilli paste. Add the palm sugar and 2/3 cup water and season with salt to taste. Mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Arrange the salad ingredients on a serving platter making a little mound with each ingredient. Serve with the dressing on the side.