Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Gado Gado (Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce)

I know I'm terrible! We are 13 days into November and I haven't posted any world food month recipes yet!  I'm very excited that November is Indonesian food month and now that I have done my big feast of cooking up Indonesian food (I have some friends over on Friday night to help me eat it all and they were very happy) I will make up for the fact that I haven't posted any Indonesian recipes yet by posting at least 8 over the remaining days of the month. How does that sound? Do you forgive me?

I'm starting off with an Indonesian classic. Gado Gado is something I'm sure most of you will have heard of. I've seen it in cookbooks and online for years and always thought to myself that I really wanted to try it. But, I would then forget about it which is why I had actually never even tried it before Friday. I was definitely missing out, because this salad is something special. It's also very easy.

The Salad
350-400g hard tofu
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large desiree potato (or other waxy variety)
2 handfuls green beans, ends trimmed
2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 carrot, thinly sliced (I used a peeler to create nice ribbons)
A handful of fresh bean sprouts

The Sauce
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 shallots (scallions)
2 long red chillis (this will make the sauce "medium", just 1 if you want mild or as many as you want for hot)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup roasted salted peanuts
1 heaped tsp tamarind puree, dissolved in 1/3 cup hot water
3 tbsp soy sauce

NOTE: I made my sauce quite chunky, so I just roughly pounded it up in a mortar and pestle. If you want a smoother peanut sauce, you can just puree the whole sauce in a food processor at the end. Alternatively, you can substitute a food processor for the mortar and pestle in every instance in the below recipe, and your sauce will be smoother.

To Make
1. Drain the tofu and gently squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can. Cut it once horizontally and once longitudinally (so that you end up with 4 large thin pieces).
2. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a wok and fry the 4 pieces of tofu, turning over half way, until they are brown and crisp on both sides. Remove from pan and set on some absorbent paper to soak up some of the oil. Set aside.
3. Slice the potato in half and then into 1cm thick slices. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and then add the potatoes. Cook until just tender. About 1-2 minutes before the potato is cooked, throw in the trimmed beans.
4. Drain the potatoes and beans and rinse well under cold water immediately.
5. To make the peanut sauce: Roughly chop the chilli, garlic and the shallots and place in a mortar. Pound with the pestle until you have a thick paste.
6. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a small frypan. Add the paste and fry over a low heat for a few minutes.
7. While it's frying, pound up the peanuts using your mortar and pestle. You can pound them however fine you like them, I left mine a bit chunky.
8. Add the peanuts, tamardind (in water) and soy sauce to the pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 3 minutes. Now add as much water as you like so that the sauce is thinner and pourable (probably between 1/2-1 cup). If you add lots of water, taste for seasoning and add more soy sauce as needed. (If you want a smooth sauce, add the whole thing to a food processor now and puree until smooth).
9. Layer a large plate with the cabbage, carrot, potato, tofu, beans and bean sprouts. Pour the sauce all over the top and serve immediately.

Serves 4.


  1. This is SO going to feature predominately on my Christmas table this year :)

  2. Gosh, I miss having that peanuty flavours with fresh veg combo with gado gado.

  3. It's Look nice
    Thanks for great recipe :)

  4. Great write up! Had it in Jakarta and was alittle worried that the sauce was meat based- not!..goes to show you that vegetables have so much more flavor and are good for you!