|Veganized Javanese Gado-Gado without the sauce: steamed kale, cabbage, green beans, bean sprouts, underneath. Topped with steamed sliced potatoes, baked seasoned tofu, baked seasoned tempeh, fresh tomatoes, and fresh cucumber slices.|
|The peanut Gado-Gado sauce|
Gado-gado is an Indonesian Javanese salad consisted of boiled or steamed vegetable served with peanut sauce. It is a complete meal and usually served with lontong or ketupat (Indonesian rice cake) but it can be served without it. I believe that it is also gluten-free. When the salad ingredients are combined with the sauce, it looks like this one below. It is so delicious eaten with the garlic tapioca chips or kerupuk (the chips on the right side behind the salad) or emping (the yellowish chips on the left side behind the salad).
During college days, I worked in an Indonesian restaurant and my job was making gado-gado sauce. The restaurant cut corner by using creamy peanut butter (like Jif or Skippy) and then added hot water, sambal, brown sugar, and some minced garlic. In my opinion, it was disgusting to do it that way and that it was not authentic but since it is not my restaurant I just did what I was told to do. Customers liked it but they didn't know any better. It is not how I make it at home obviously. Sometimes I bought a packaged imported gado-gado sauce from Asian markets but the best is to make the sauce from scratch at home.
The peanut sauce is the key to this salad. I like to use roasted peanuts and blend it using a Vitamix or a food processor with the other spices and herbs added to it. Although, if you want it easier and if you don't have a high speed blender, you can use Natural Peanut Butter(such as Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter from Trader Joe's), make sure that the ingredients are just peanuts and salt, not the one that has other ingredients in it like oil, sugar, etc. I usually buy Trader Joe's Lightly Salted Peanuts.
I also use my own sambal that has no shrimp paste in it. However, you can also use sambal oelek which has no shrimp paste for an easier way. I will be adding sugar, salt, tamarind juice, lime juice, etc. but this way I can control the amount of sugar and salt. If I use a store-bought peanut butter that has sugar in it, I am pretty much stuck with the amount of sugar so I prefer not to. DH doesn't like sweet food and pretty much doesn't like peanut sauce made from store-bought peanut butter. He said that the Indonesian peanut sauce is too sweet. He likes my peanut sauce because I make it not too sweet and a bit on the sweet sour side with lime and lemon juice added to it.
All kinds of vegetables that are good being steamed will be good for this salad. However, the traditional vegetables are long beans or green beans, cabbage, bean sprouts, spinach, and potato. I also like to steam the vegetables instead of boiling them. Fresh vegetable such as tomatoes and cucumbers are great additions too.
The traditional gado-gado also uses boiled eggs which I don't use. The traditional way also use fried tempeh and/or tofu. I use baked tempeh and tofu.
Indonesian Javanese Gado-Gado
Garlic tapioca crackers/chips or kerupuk
Emping (padi oats crackers/chips)
Fried Shallots, optional
3-4 cups cabbage, cut into bite pieces
3-4 cups kale, cut into bite pieces
3-4 cups green beans, cut into bite pieces
3-4 cups bean sprouts
3 potatoes, each cut into 3
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 cucumbers, sliced
- Steam cabbage, kale, green beans, separately on a vegetable steamer or basket for 7 minutes each. Prepare a bowl of ice water. After each vegetable is steamed, immerse into the bowl of ice water to stop cooking. This way the vegetable will stay bright green and still a bit crunchy.
- Steam bean sprouts for 5 minutes and immerse into a bowl of ice water similar to step 1.
- Steam potatoes for 15-20 minutes until tender but still firm. Let them cool and then peel. Then slice into bite pieces.
Baked Tofu and/or Tempeh(store bought baked tofu can be used instead):
1 to 1 1/2 lb. extra-firm tofu
3/4 to 1 cup water
1/4 cup dark Superior brand mushroom soy sauce
Note: regular soy sauce will do but this dark mushroom soy sauce is my preference. It makes the baked tofu dark chocolate brown but the inside is light cream color. Pretty and delicious!
2 tablespoon maple syrup or organic molasses
1 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke, optional for this recipe
- Slice tofu or tempeh about 1/3-inch thick lengthwise. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a plastic container with tight lid in which you can soak all of the tofu or tempeh slices in this marinade sauce. Marinate the tofu slices for 24 hours in refrigerator.
- Bake drained marinated tofu or tempeh slices on an oiled cookie sheets for 10- 12 minutes in 400 F oven. Flip and bake the other side about another 10-12 minutes. Let them cool before use.
1 1/2 cups lightly salted roasted peanuts
1 1/4 cup light coconut milk
4 garlic cloves
5 shallots cloves
4 Tbsp. palm sugar or brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime, about 3-4 Tbsp.
3 kaffir lime leaves
1/4 tamarind liquid from soaking dried tamarind paste in warm water
2 Tbsp. sambal oelek, or less for less spicy
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp. white miso
1 Lemon, optional
1 Tbsp. Kecap Manis, optional
- Combine roasted peanuts, garlic, shallots, coconut milk, palm or brown sugar, tamarind juice, sambal oelek, salt, and miso in a high speed blender or food processor. Pulse and blend until desired consistency. Usually, it is the consistency of a gravy. Some people like a crunchier sauce. It is a matter of a taste on the consistency.
- If food processor or blender is not used and if using natural peanut butter, mince shallots and garlic finely, and then combine with coconut milk, palm or brown sugar, tamarind juice, sambal oelek, salt, and miso in a bowl or a medium size pot until thoroughly blended.
- Add the kaffir lime leaves, if using, into the sauce
- Heat the sauce in a medium size pot until it boils, turn down the heat, and then simmer for about 10 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add more coconut milk or water.
- Remove from heat, add the juice of lime, kecap manis, and squirt 1-2 Tbsp. of lemon juice. This step is optional to those who likes the sauce sweet. The amount of sugar can also be adjusted depending on how sweet the sauce to be. Add more salt if necessary.
- Let it cool before using and store in the fridge. When this sauce is cold (refrigerated), it tends to be very thick. Add warm water or reheat in a pot to thin it out.
Gado-gado usually is served in room temperature. It is a great to prepare this dish ahead of time, store the ingredients separately in the fridge, then assemble just before serving.
- Combine vegetables in a large salad bowl (including the tomatoes and cucumber).
- Add peanut sauce and toss together. Sprinkle with fried shallots.
- Add garlic crackers/chips (kerupuk) and emping(padi oats crackers) on top or on the side.
Garlic Tapioca Crackers/Chips (Kerupuk)
Emping (padi oats crackers/chips)