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Gado-Gado (Mixed Vegetable Salad with Peanut Sauce)


This is a very popular vegetable dish, not expensive, and very good for you. In my student days, my usual lunch was a plate of gado-gado, and it makes an excellent lunch just by itself. It can also accompany a full meal, with meat and rice; or you can follow the Indonesian custom of eating it either before or after the main course.

To take the vegetables first, you might select the following.

  • 90 g (3 oz) cabbage
  • 90 g (3 oz) French beans
  • 90 g (3 oz) carrots
  • 90 g (3 oz) cauliflower
  • 120 g (4 oz) beans sprouts
  • a quarter of a cucumber
  • 1 medium-sized potato

Lettuce and watercress may also be added. In Indonesia, The yard-long bean (kacang panjang) would often be used in addition to or instead of the French beans.
The ingredients for the bumbu, or sauce, and for the garnish are as follows.

for the bumbu:

  • 120 g (4 oz) peanuts
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 slice terasi
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • salt
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ⅓  tsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 30 g (1 oz) creamed coconut (optional)
  • juice of half a lemon

For the garnish:

  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • fried onions
  • krupuk (prawn crackers)

First, prepare the vegetables. Slice the beans and carrots, and shred the cabbage. Cut up the cauliflower into small flowerets. Clean the bean sprouts (see note in recipe for Urap).

Next, make the bumbu. Fry the peanuts in a cupful of vegetable oil for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain, and let them cool. Then pound or grind them into a fine powder. Crush the terasi, garlic and shallots into a rough paste, adding a little salt. Fry this paste in 1 tablespoonful of oil for 1 minute. Add the chilli Powder, sugar and more salt; then add 2 cupfuls of water. Let all this come to the boil, then add the ground peanuts. Stir the mixture well and let it simmer, still stirring occasionally, until it becomes thick. This is the moment to put in the creamed coconut, if you want it; stir it until it dissolves. This bumbu can be re-heated quickly when the vegetables are ready. Don’t add the lemon juice until just before serving.

Boil each vegetable separately, for not more than 5 minutes. Bean sprouts and watercress should be boiled for 3 minutes at the most. Boil the potato and slice it thinly.

When the vegetables are done, heat up the bumbu, not forgetting to stir in the lemon juice. Serve Gado-Gado on a round or oval dish which is big enough to spread the vegetables out on. Put the cabbage first, round the edge (with the lettuce, if you are using lettuce-uncooked, of course) but leaving room for the potato and cucumber slice around the outside. In the centre, put the carrots, cauliflower and bean sprouts, with the sliced hard-boiled egg on top. Pour the bumbu over all this, and garnish with fried onion and with krupuk broken into small pieces.

In Indonesia, if Gado-Gado is your whole lunch, You will Probably want to smuggle some rice into it in the form of Lontong sliced and put round the edge with the potato and cucumber.

Incidentally, you may be told that you can make bumbu Gado-Gado with crunchy peanut butter. You can, after a fashion, but it is not very satisfactory. If you find the preparation of the bumbu tedious, you can buy ‘instant’ bumbu in powder form, from many ‘Indices’ shops in Holland, and from various stores in London, Sydney, New York and other cities. A very good bumbu, which you can use with Gado-Gado or with Sate, can be made from ‘satai powder’ , which you should be able to get from any good Chinese provision merchant. With these powders, simply boil a cupful of water, stir in the powder, and simmer for a few minutes until the mixture thickens. Pour this over the vegetables (or the sate) in the usual way.

to serve six

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