Gado-gado (in Indonesian or Betawi language), also known as Lotek (in Sundanese and Javanese) is an Indonesian dish or Indonesian salad consisting of boiled vegetables served with a peanut sauce dressing. It is differed from lotek atah or karedok for its fresh and raw version of the vegetable covered with peanut sauce. Another similar dish is Javanese pecel. It is thought to have originally been a Sundanese dish. It is widely served from hawkers carts, stalls (warung) as well as in restaurants and hotels both in Indonesia and worldwide.
Gado-gado is part of a wide range of Indonesian dressing and salad combinations, along with lotek, pecel and karedok. In many places, to retain authenticity in both the production and flavour, the peanut sauce is made in individual batches per order, in front of the customers to suit customers’ personal preference on the degree of spiciness (the amount of chilli pepper). However, since the dish has gained popularity (because of the increase of Asian-themed restaurants) Gado-gado sauce is now mostly made ahead of time and cooked in bulk, although this is probably more common in Western restaurants rather than in Indonesia. Compared to Western and Indonesian salads, Gado-gado has much more sauce in it. Instead of being used as a light dressing, the vegetables should be well coated in the sauce.
Many stores now offer Gado-Gado dressing in dried blocks to which simply require to add hot water, making it easier and cheaper to cook at home.
Common ingredients in Gado-gado
The exact composition of the vegetable salad varies, but usually comprises a mixture of some of the following:
- blanched – shredded, chopped, or sliced green vegetables (such as cabbage,kang-kung),bean sprouts, young boiled jack fruit, string bean, bitter melon, and corn (outside of Indonesia, people improvise with whatever vegetables that are available).
- uncooked – sliced cucumber and lettuce
- fried tofu and tempeh
- sliced boiled potatoes
- peeled and sliced boiled eggs
The authentic gado-gado does not have carrot and tomatoes. Only the aforementioned vegetables are added to the dish.
Peanut sauce dressing
What distinguishes gado-gado from a plain vegetable salad is the peanut sauce dressing, which is poured on top of the vegetable salad before serving. The composition of this peanut sauce varies as well. While traditionally homemade, there are now many commercial versions widely available these days. The common primary ingredients of the peanut sauce are as follows:
- ground fried peanuts (kidney beans may be substituted for a richer taste)
- coconut sugar/palm sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
- chillies (according to taste)
- lime juice
- terasi (dried shrimp paste)
- tamarind water
- water, to dilute
- Note : The above is for Jakarta style gado-gado.
Gado-gado is always served with krupuk, some kind of crackers, usually tapioca crackers, or also with emping, Indonesian style fried crackers, which are made from melinjo. In Indonesia, Gado-gado is usually served with rice or lontong (rice cake wrapped in banana leaf).
- 150 g fresh beansprouts
- 250 g kangkung, spinach or fresh greens
- 2-3 medium potatoes
- 100 g thin green beans
- 3 Asian shallots
- ¾ tablespoon tamarind paste
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ¾ tablespoon dried chillies
- 200 g salted peanuts
- 1 small packet egg noodles
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 2 Kaffir lime leaves
- 1½ teaspoons shrimp paste
- 1½ tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1½ tablespoons kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
Procedure for peanut sauce
- First you need to grind the peanuts into a powder.
- Put a saucepan with a litre of water on to boil <em>(for the peanut sauce) </em>while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Chop the shallots coarsely and fry in a little oil until they’re soft and starting to brown
- Add the tamarind paste, terasi and lime leaves and sugar, mix and cook for a minute before adding the dried chillies.
- Add the dark and sweet soy sauce then pour in a tablespoons of water and mix well. Cook for about 4-5 minutes.
- 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. 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 5 cm pieces. Dice potatoes into 1 cm chunks. Chop the green beans into 2½ cm 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 1 cm 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 <em>(prawn crackers)</em>.