Saturday, 6 November 2010

Gado-gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce)

Gado-gado is one of the only vegetarian dishes Mrs K makes. It’s a delicious mixed vegetable salad with peanut sauce (almost identical to satay sauce). The beauty of it is that the ingredients are not set in stone - you can use a wide variety of green and salad vegetables. One important (but again, not essential) ingredient is ketupat (rice cakes), which we’ve covered in another post.

Although you can use fresh greens or spinach, for authenticity kangkung (Chinese spinach) is worth seeking out.  Many oriental stores stock this fresh - it costs a couple of pounds for a big bunch. Tamarind is another essential ingredient, and this is now widely available from supermarkets in block or paste form - Mrs K used a bottled paste for this recipe.

Tamarind paste is the most convenient form

In gado-gado stalls in Indonesia, the dish is made to order and you can choose exactly what ingredients you want. You can add others to the list, such as cucumber slices, fried onions, broccoli or cauliflower florets, or even grated carrots. It’s a supremely flexible and tasty dish.


Kangkung, potatoes, green beans

  • 150g fresh beansprouts
  • 250g kangkung, spinach or fresh greens
  • 2-3 medium potatoes
  • 100g fine green beans
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 dessert spoon tamarind paste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 dessert spoon dried chillies
  • 200g salted peanuts
  • 1 small packet of egg noodles
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1.5 teaspoons terasi (shrimp paste)
  • 2 dessert spoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 dessert spoons sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)


Peanut sauce
A rotary grater is ideal for grinding the peanuts
  1. First you need to grind the peanuts into a powder. Mrs K finds that blenders don’t do this very well, so she uses (or rather, gets Mr K to use) a hand-held rotary grater (pictured). This takes a little time but is easier than it looks if you use a fairly coarse grater.
  2. Put a saucepan with a litre of water on to boil (for the peanut sauce) while you prepare the rest of the ingredents.
  3. Chop the shallots coarsely and fry in a little oil until they’re soft and starting to brown
  4. Add the tamarind paste, terasi and lime leaves and sugar, mix and cook for a minute before adding the dried chillies.
  5. Add the dark and sweet soy sauce then pour in a couple of dessert spoons of water and mix well. Cook for about 4-5 minutes.
  6. When the saucepan of water is boiling, put in the ground-up peanuts, followed by the mixture from the frying pan. Mix it well and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture burning at the bottom. Add salt to taste - Mrs K adds about a teaspoon. Add a more water if needed to keep the consistency not too thick - it should run easily but slowly off a spoon.


There’s no real magic involved in boiling the eggs, noodles, beansprouts or vegetables, and they are usually served cold - the peanut sauce is the only warm ingredient. Cut the kangkung leaves from the stalks, cut stalks and leaves up into 2inch pieces. Dice potatoes into half-inch chunks.  Chop the green beans into 1inch pieces. Boil them all to your taste - kangkung leaves and beansprouts cook in a minute or less, the stalks a little longer.

When the ketupat is cold, cut it into half-inch cubes. Put these into a dish and add a topping of kangkung and beansprouts. On this put some egg noodles, potatoes and egg slices. Then pour the warm peanut sauce over the whole concoction and serve - preferably with some nice krupuk (prawn crackers)

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