Indonesian Vegetable Salad with Peanut Dressing (Gado-Gado)

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.”

Gado-Gado (Indonesian Vegetable Salad with Peanut Dressing) Indonesian Vegetable Salad with Peanut Dressing (Gado-Gado)
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.
Yield: serves 6

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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 12 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.