Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A little Gado Gado experience


Mmmmmm, Gado Gado, sounds slightly naughty. It's not, but it's oh so tasty and is one of my favorite dishes. I love it for its wide variety of sensations on my palate, that it's refreshing and not too heavy. Gado gado is a great dish that I learned from my aunt Marianne. She, along with her family, lived for many years in Indonesia as missionaries. She picked up how to prepare and make many of the local dishes. 

This was when I was pretty young. I do always remember though that it was a family dish. It really brought everyone together. And it had such different flavors than I was used to. My young culinary palate was just starting to get tickled.  My aunt served this dish to us many times and it was always wonderful. It’s an Indonesian vegetable dish topped with Sambal Kacang, a spicy peanut sauce.
This is a fun dish to put together and great for a crowd as well as for solo dining. I have changed the recipe a bit to fit my tastes, but I must pay homage to the roots of the dish in my family.

This dish is great leftover as well. The sauce keeps well. For reheating the sauce, just microwave it and put a little water to thin it if needed. This is a great dish to try. It’s also a great vegan dish if you leave off the hard-boiled eggs and substitute tofu (grilled is very nice). Otherwise it’s still vegetarian.

And for those of you with a peanut allergy, try substituting in another nut or seed butter such as almond, soy, sunflower, etc. You can also use the spicy peanut sauce as a satay dipping sauce for grilled chicken, shrimp or tofu. That makes an excellent appetizer.

So, go ahead and enjoy a little Indonesian cuisine tonight--you’ll thank me for sure. Gado Gado is a simple and tasty dish that can be enjoyed alone or shared with friends.


Gado Gado with Sambal Kacang (Spicy Peanut Sauce)
2 T sesame seed oil
1 t garlic, finely chopped
1 t ginger, finely chopped
1 c natural peanut butter, creamy
¼ c coconut milk
juice of 2 limes
¼ c water, or as needed
3 T Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce)*
1 t dried red chili peppers
Salt to taste (if needed) 

1 - Heat sauté pan with the oil.
       2 - Saute ginger and garlic for 1-2 over medium-low heat till softened.
       3 - Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir over low heat till well combined.
       4 - Put in food processor or blender and blend till smooth.
      5 - Serve warm

Serve the spicy peanut sauce on top of vegetables and other food of your choice. Some are cooked and cooled and others are served raw. Cut them up and arrange on a platter and serve the spicy peanut sauce drizzled on top or on the side. Here is a list of ones I use for mine (but you can use whatever vegetables you like).

Hard-boiled eggs and/or grilled tofu
Boiled peeled potatoes
Blanched green beans
Steamed cabbage
Steamed spinach
Fresh bean sprouts
Fresh carrots
Fresh cucumbers
Fresh red onions

*Kechap Manis is a thick sweet soy sauce. You can sometimes find it at your grocery stores, but definitely at Asian markets. If you can’t find it at all, you can also use a combination of soy sauce and dark molasses as a substitution.

Recipe guide:
T= Tablespoons
t=  teaspoons
c=  cup/s

Hope you like the little slide show of my Gado Gado experience that I have posted here. Do you have a favorite dish that maybe is a little out of the ordinary that you remember from childhood? If so, please share. I’d love to hear about it. There is nothing better than great food stories to warm the heart and the belly.