I’m trying to prove that you can eat salads in winter!! The sun is still shining! What a beautiful autumn we’ve had here in Wales. Here’s a seasonal salad with a seriously zesty and creamy sauce, a taste of autumn and early winter given a very Indonesian twist.
Some of the vegetables in Gado Gado can be served warm, which makes it idea for autumn, it is also so colourful and takes advantage of all those incredible veggies that are about at the minute.
Gado gado (or Lotek) is something you find all over Indonesia and basically means ‘mix-mix’, we travelled all over Indonesia last year and found that it changed most times we ate it. We’ve added roasted veggies instead of steamed/ boiled and some of our favourite, colourful local organic veg.
We use what is to hand for this salad, what is seasonal and looking great, with new potatoes and the thick peanut dressing, this seems to be the way things are done in Indonesia too. The veggies may change but the POW of the amazing sauce is a constant.
You can use any mix of veggies really, in Indonesia, potatoes always figure, with things like cabbage, jackfruit, bitter melon, corn, beansprouts, spinach, the list is long and tasty. It’s normally topped with something crispy, like fried rice crackers or deep fried shallots. We’ve kept it super healthy and gone for some toasted pumpkin seeds instead. Not traditional, but packed with nutrition and gorgeous flavour.
I think our favourite Gado Gado was in a small town in the North of Sulawesi. One man was making it with such care at a warung (street food stand) and we ate it on the street on a little table with a group of lovely people, all giving us their top Gado Gado tips. It’s one of those dishes that is a real institution and everyone has their favourite quirk and twist with it. I love the way it’s so flexible and easy to make.
Gado Gado is a great option for a vegan traveller around Indonesia, its filling nutritious and will sometimes come with two of my Indonesia favourites; tempeh and tahu (tofu). They are everywhere, on each street corner, you’ll bump into a lump of tofu! We even visited a remote village that was all about tofu, check it out – Visiting Tofu Village – Yogyakarta, Indonesia
It’s fair to say that Indonesia captured our hearts, we loved travelling around and the people were amazingly friendly and hospitable. The food is also sensational and is one of those cuisines that hasn’t really taken off here in the UK, at least not like Thai or Vietnamese food. I would say that it’s a fascinating cuisine to explore and Gado Gado is at the very tip of an intensely tasty tree, and if you’re vegan, Indonesia will teach you all you need to know about making tofu and tempeh taste amazing (little tip, great sauces and marinades).
Gado Gado normally comes with the thick sauce poured over the dish, a very generous quantity normally. I like to see the lovely veggies and therefore drizzle the sauce on the base of the plate/ shallow bowl and then have some more around for people to drizzle on top.
We use cooked beans and roasted veggies here, you can serve them warm of cold. The contrast of raw veg and warm is nice and the sauce comes alive even more with a little heat.
If you can’t track down tamarind, just add a little more citrus.
Aduki beans are also really nice with this salad. We use beans to substitute tofu or tempeh when we don’t have any. Nice bit of protein!
Gado Gado – Indonesian Seasonal Salad with Kickin’ Zesty Peanut Sauce
The Bits – For 4
450g new potatoes (cooked and chopped)
300g mung or other beans (cooked)
4 big handfuls roasted veggies (we used golden and purple beetroot, squash and onion)
1/2 green pepper (sliced)
1/2 yellow pepper (sliced)
2 big handfuls red cabbage (finely sliced)
2 ripe tomatoes (diced)
1/2 cucumber (diced)
4 Brussels Sprouts (finely sliced)
½ bunch fresh coriander (leaves picked oﬀ) or mint leaves (sliced)
1 hot red chilli (ﬁnely sliced)
4 tbs toasted pumpkin seeds
Extra something crispy – fried wonton wrappers, cassava crisps. Traditionally prawn crackers (krukuk) are used.
130g peanut butter (crunchy or smooth is fine)
3 tbs coconut cream (that’s the cream from a tin of coconut milk)
30-40g palm sugar or brown sugar
1 large clove garlic (crushed)
1 tbsp / 1 inch ginger or galangal (peeled and chopped)
1-2 red chillies
2 limes (juice)
2 tbs tamari or good soya sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
Salt (to taste)
2 tbsp water (more if needed to thin)
In a bowl or food processor (easier), mix/blitz the peanut sauce ingredients (except the lime) until a thick sauce forms, adding water if needed to thin it out.
Place sauce in a small saucepan and warm gently. Taste and season with salt if needed then stir the lime juice in. The sauce should be nice and smooth creamy and with a real lime zing.
Spoon the sauce around the outside of the base of a shallow bowl. Arrange all the other vegetables over the sauce however you like it, then sprinkle with all the other toppings, coriander, chillies and seeds and serve.
You may know that peanuts are really high in protein, but did you know they are very high in copper?! We need copper in our diet to to help us absorb iron and it also helps with red blood cells, nerves, bones and the immune system. Aren’t we amazing!! They are also a great source of healthy fats and even anti-oxidants.
Want to learn how to cook vegan? Looking for more plant-based inspiration?
If you’d like to read more about our Indonesian travels here’s a couple of posts: