Gado Gado is a mixed veg plate which often includes big chopped pieces of potatoes, cucumber, tomato, tofu, and cabbage, as well as bean sprouts, egg, carrots, green beans, and whatever else the warung might have hanging around.
Warung basically means restaurant in Bahasa Indonesian. Often you'll also be able to find gado gado at a little street stall.. or at night, places by the river, or on the main drag of Jogjakarta, a street called Marlioborough, you can find vendors who have laid down big blankets on the sidewalk and you can sit and order gado-gado and a jahe (sweet ginger tea), among many other things. For midnight snacks, hot watery chocolate milk and instant noodles, like Ramen, whether fried or in a soup, are also favorites.
All for less than a dollar, always.
I became very choosy about my gado gado, having sampled it from many places from around the city. The ibu on the corner near where I lived- she made it in a small cart which she ran with her daughter, open only for lunch, and the favorite among local becak drivers. Hers had a spicy sauce and always fresh crunchy veggies, though I was also partial to the warung outside my school whose gado gado included packed clumps of steamed rice called lontong, which had been wrapped and soaked overnight in banana leaves. YUM.
Much of the success or failure of the dish depended on the consistency and flavor of the sauce, a peanut sauce with a lot of ingredients in it. I loved to watch the ibus make the sauce, grinding and mixing all the ingredients up with mortar and pestle, pinching a bit of this, tossing in a splash of that... I'm salivating just thinking about it.
I am on a mission to find the best Gado Gado in San Francisco, but the mission hasn't begun yet. It's a mission I just decided upon right now. I think there are less than five restaurants even in the running, based on a quick and cursory search on Yelp for Indo food in the area. I will report back on my findings. In the meantime, here's a recipe so you can make gado-gado at home!
Sambal Kacang (Peanut Sauce)
Makes about 280 ml / 1/2 pint / 1-1/4 cups of sauce
This is the best-known, most popular sauce for satay. It is also used for gado-gado, and goes well with any grilled meat.
If you like your satay sauce chilli-hot, there are several quite passable powdered instant sauces on the market. For making it yourself, there are various so-called short cuts, most of them involving crunchy peanut butter. Avoid these; the method described below is as easy, cheaper and much nicer.
112 ml / 4 fl oz / 1/2 cup vegetable oil
225 g / 8 oz / 1-1/3 cups raw peanuts
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 shallots, chopped
A thin slice of shrimp paste (optional)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
450 ml / 16 fl oz / 2 cups water
1 tbsp tamarind water or juice of a lemon
Stir-fry the peanuts for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain in a colander, and leave to cool. Then pound or grind the nuts into a fine powder, using a blender, coffee grinder, or pestle and mortar. Discard the oil, except for 1 tablespoonful.
Crush the garlic, shallots and shrimp paste in a mortar with a little salt, and fry in the remaining oil for 1 minute. Add the chilli powder, sugar, soy sauce and water. Bring this to the boil, then add the ground peanuts. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce becomes thick; this should take about 8-10 minutes. Add the tamarind water or lemon juice and more salt if needed.
When cool, keep in a jar in the fridge. Reheat as required for use with satay or as a dip for lalab (crudites) or savoury snacks. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
112 g / 4 oz / l cup cabbage or spring greens, shredded
225 g / 8 oz / 2 cups French beans, cut into 1-cm / 1/2-inch lengths
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
112 g / 4 oz /1 cup cauliflower florets
112 g / 4 oz / 1 cup beansprouts, washed
For the garnish:
Some lettuce leaves and watercress
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
1 medium-size potato, boiled in its skin, then peeled and sliced;
or 225 g / 8 oz of slices of lontong (optional)
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tbsp crisp-fried onions
2 large krupuk, or a handful of fried emping, broken up into small pieces (optional)
Boil the vegetables separately in slightly salted water, for 3-4 minutes, except the beansprouts which only need 2 minutes. Drain each vegetable separately in a colander.
To serve, arrange the lettuce and watercress around the edge of a serving dish. Then pile the vegetables in the middle of the dish. Arrange the eggs, sliced potatoes or lontong, and sliced cucumber on top.
Heat the peanut sauce in a small saucepan until hot; add more water if it is too thick. Adjust the seasoning, and pour the sauce over the vegetables. Sprinkle the fried onions on top. Serve warm or cold. If you want to serve hot gado-gado, it can be reheated in a microwave oven. When reheating, however, do not include the lettuce and watercress, cucumber slices, fried onions, krupuk or emping. Add these garnishes immediately before serving.Recipe from:
Indonesian Regional Cooking
By Sri Owen
St. Martin's Press, 1995
You can use whatever veggies you want- this recipe doesn't call for as many as I'd use- I'd also toss in chopped cucumbers and tomatoes (raw) shredded carrots, etc. Bon Appetit! Or rather, Selamat Makan!!