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Indonesian Mixed Salad with Creamy Peanut Dressing (Gado-Gado) Recipe

Indonesian Mixed Salad with Creamy Peanut Dressing (Gado-Gado) Recipe

Indonesian Mixed Salad with Creamy Peanut Dressing (Gado-Gado) Recipe

Everybody’s grandmother in Indonesia has a version of this Indonesian Mixed Salad with Creamy Peanut Dressing. I remember visiting senior citizens in countryside villages in Indonesia where I was invited to partake in family meals and they always included this peanut flavored salad. It’s amazing how humble homes and bare-bone kitchens with no electricity can often produce the most mind-blowing foods. Tiny old ladies wearing batik sarongs with their waist-long hair piled in high buns, crouching on cement floors, using stone mortar and pestles to pound fresh roasted peanuts and chili peppers with energy and ferocity. I could only watch and learn as they expertly added spices and herbs, sautéed the coconut milk with the paste, and eventually tossed all types of greens, tofu, and bean sprouts in with the peanut sauce. Indonesians have an adept way of turning nutrient-rich ingredients into a dish that tastes sinfully good.

Ingredients :

    • Oil for deep-frying
    • 1/2 head cabbage (1 lb/500 g) thinly sliced
    • 31/2 cups (375 g) bean sprouts
    • 1/2 block firm tofu (8 oz/250 g)
    • 1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly
    • 6 large eggs, hardboiled, shelled and sliced thinly
    • Shrimp chips for garnish


    • 1 cup (100 g) raw peanuts
    • 6-10 cloves garlic
    • 2 stalks lemongrass, tender inner part of bottom third only, minced
    • 1/2 tablespoon finely minced kaffir lime leaves or 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 3 cups (750ml) coconut milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3 teaspoons sugar

Method :

    1. Heat the oil in a small wok or pot over high heat.
    2. Bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil. Turn off the heat once the water has come to boil. Blanch the chopped cabbage in the hot water for about 45 seconds to 1 minute until just soft. Remove, drain, and set aside the cabbage to cool. Repeat this blanching process with the bean sprouts, but leave them in the hot water only for about 15 to 20 seconds. Set aside to cool as well.
    3. Drain the tofu from its liquid and cut into small thin rectangles. Carefully slide the tofu pieces into the hot oil and deep fry for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.
    4. Arrange the blanched cabbage, bean sprouts, cucumbers, and egg slices on a serving platter. Sprinkle the crisp tofu bits on top. Set aside.
    5. Dry roast the peanuts over high heat in a wok or skillet, shaking the nuts around every few minutes. This process will take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes depending on the heat of the stove. The peanuts should be a rich, dark brown color when done.
    6. To make the Creamy Peanut Dressing, grind the roasted peanuts, garlic cloves, lemon-grass, and kaffir lime leaves using a mortar and pestle or blend with a food processor until very smooth. Return the paste to the hot wok or skillet with the 2 tablespoons of oil and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant and golden. Add the coconut milk, cayenne pepper, salt, and sugar, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Allow the mixture to come to a vigorous boil then immediately remove from the heat. Allow the peanut dressing to cool down, stirring occasionally as it cools.
    7. Serve the salad with shrimp chips and the peanut dressing, either on the side or, for an authentic Indonesian presentation, toss the entire salad with the dressing before serving.