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Gado Gado: An Indonesian Salad

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Gado Gado: An Indonesian Salad

Steve Peters

gado gado You probably don't need another salad recipe. That's why I'm sharing a salad idea. Gado Gado, which translates to "mix mix," is made up of surprisingly ordinary ingredients - raw or cooked vegetables, greens, eggs, tofu or tempeh, and peanut sauce are typical. But with variations throughout Indonesia, there is no one way to prepare the dish or a set list of ingredients to adhere to. In fact, Gado Gado is one of the most popular dishes in Indonesia and I'm betting that's because of the versatility. Or maybe because it's just a great way to toss together leftovers.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:36]

peanut butter sauce

However, a good peanut sauce is at the heart of Gado Gado. It's probably the one thing you need to pay attention to here. I referenced Mollie Katzen's recipe in The New Moosewood Cookbookthough based on other peanut sauces I've made, the ingredients here are pretty standard.

Just combine peanut butter with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, water and red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor until smooth.

What I love about peanut sauces is that they encompass so many of our basic tastes - sweet, sour, salty, umami and maybe even a little bitter. It could be why I could put the sauce on almost anything.

Play with the ratios of these ingredients to make the sauce flavored to your liking. It's easy to up the red pepper, for instance, and transform it into a really spicy peanut sauce if that's what your feeling. Or increase the sugar for a sweet version. Experiment and customize it to the food you're putting it on.

I've also seen peanut sauces amplified with coconut milk, fish sauce and/or lime juice. You could try adding these in too, but I think the ingredients listed here make a good start.

Once you have the sauce ready to go, it's simply a matter of assembling the ingredients. If serving a group, you could arrange everything on a platter and let people assemble the salad the way they like. Otherwise, pile some spring greens on your plate then layer on some rice.

I used Katzen's idea here by adding 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric to the rice as it cooked (2 cups rice simmered in 3 cups water until tender, adding more water, if need). The turmeric adds some color, a little flavor, and all of those health claims people are raving about lately. Interestingly, it's dubbed the poor man's saffron.

freezing rice

steamed veggies

Then add your vegetables to the plate. I quickly steamed snow peas, carrots, and shiitakes. Be creative in your combo and if you prefer a crunch, skip the cooking and enjoy them raw. Next goes the protein. I luckily found a hard boiled egg left in the fridge and I was content with just that. Tofu and tempeh are popular in Gado Gado, though I don't see why shredded chicken or pork couldn't work either. If you have it, use it. If you want it, cook it up or go get it. You can put as much or as little effort into this dish and as long as your peanut sauce is good, I don't see how you can go wrong.

gado gado

Finally, drizzle on the peanut sauce. Don't skimp. Toss, or perhaps I should say mix, it all together. If you want, throw on a topping. I chose pea shoots, but chopped peanuts could work or how about some fresh herbs? And that folks, is all there is to Gado Gado.