Indonesian Vegetable Salad with Peanut Dressing (Gado-Gado)
This popular Indonesian salad lends itself to creativity; nearly any combination of raw and cooked vegetables, along with rice or thin noodles, can be used. An addictive, aromatic peanut sauce ties it all together. Ingalls Photography

On the streets of Jakarta and elsewhere in Indonesia, some vendors’ pushcarts are essentially mobile salad bars, where bespoke vegetarian compositions of greens, sprouts, shredded cabbage, fried potatoes and tofu, hard-cooked eggs, shrimp chips, and more are dressed in a spicy and aromatic peanut sauce. The dish these hawkers are making, gado-gado, is true to its name, which means “potpourri.” The salad lends itself to creativity; nearly any combination of raw and cooked vegetables, along with rice or thin noodles, if you like, can be used. This recipe first appeared in our June/July 2014 issue with James Oseland’s story, “Salad Supreme.”

Yield: serves 6


  • 1 12 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1 12 tsp. Indonesian shrimp paste
  • 14 cup grated palm or dark brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 Holland chile, chopped
  • 34 cup unsweetened coconut milk, preferably UHT from a carton
  • 1 tbsp. palm or rice vinegar
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 1 lb. medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/3″ thick
  • 7 oz. firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1/2″-thick triangles
  • 5 oz. Chinese water or regular spinach, tough stems trimmed, leaves cut into 2″ pieces
  • 4 oz. long beans or regular green beans, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced 1/4″ thick on an angle
  • 14 head green cabbage, cored and cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 kirby cucumber, sliced 1/2″ thick on an angle
  • 15 Indonesian shrimp chips, fried
  • 3 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and halved


  1. Heat a 12″ nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook peanuts until golden, 8–10 minutes; let cool. Transfer to a food processor; pulse until ground. Return skillet to medium-high heat. In a piece of aluminum foil, wrap shrimp paste into a flat package; cook, flipping once, until toasted and fragrant, 2–4 minutes. Let cool, unwrap, and transfer to food processor. Add sugar, garlic, and chile; purée into a paste. Transfer paste to skillet and add coconut milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to separate, 5–7 minutes. Stir in vinegar, salt, and 1⁄2 cup water; simmer until sauce is thickened, 2–3 minutes.
  2. Heat 2″ oil in a 6-qt. saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Working in batches, fry potatoes until golden and cooked through, 3–4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Fry tofu until puffed and golden, about 2 minutes; drain on paper towels. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; working in batches, cook spinach, beans, sprouts, carrots, and cabbage until just tender, 30 seconds to 1 minute for spinach, beans, and sprouts and 2–3 minutes for carrots and cabbage. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a bowl of ice water until chilled; drain, spread on paper towels to dry, and transfer to a large platter. Add potatoes, tofu, and cucumber. Top with reserved sauce, shrimp chips, and eggs.