Gado Gado: Indonesian Vegetable Salad



A mix of cooked, blanched and raw vegetables with protein and an awesome peanut sauce. Gado gado is a naturally vegan, or vegetarian if you include egg, Indonesian vegetable salad. It’s absolutely delicious and a complete meal in itself. It’s easy to incorporate plenty of different coloured foods so you can glow in your own virtue as you eat the rainbow.Gado gado Indonesian salad platter complete with bowl of spicy peanut sauce.

What Is Gado Gado?

Although it’s usually called a salad, gado gado is a healthy mix of both cooked and raw vegetables with fried tempeh or tofu. Gado gado actually means “mix mix” which refers to the mixed vegetables and peanut sauce. It’s one of the five national dishes of Indonesia.
Gado gado Indonesian salad platter complete with bowl of spicy peanut sauce.Traditionally it’s made with vegetable such as snake beans, cabbage, beansprouts, potatoes and chayote. As well as tempeh or tofu, it’s usually served with boiled eggs and fried shallots. The crowning glory though is the awesome spicy peanut sauce.

What Vegetables To Use In Gado Gado?

Really you can use whatever vegetables you like or are in season to make gado gado. Most of the vegetables are boiled, steamed or blanched, but it’s always good to drop a few raw ones in too. Look for different colours, textures and flavours. It’s a great dish to help get your 10-a-day.
Eight bowls of prepared gado gado ingredients ready to serve.Prepared gado gado ingredientsThere are some vegetables that make it more authentic and I’ve listed those below. I’ve also given a list of other vegetables I think work. But really it’s up to you.
Traditional Gado Gado Vegetables
There are several traditional vegetables that are harder to get hold of in the Northern hemisphere. These include bitter gourds, water spinach and chayote.
Green Beans
Traditionally snake beans or long beans are used. Neither of these are particularly easy to get hold of here in the UK so I opt for French beans or runner beans. Boil them lightly in a little salted water for three to four minutes.
Cabbage
I’m not sure what sort of cabbage they eat in Indonesia, but red cabbage, white cabbage or Chinese cabbage are all good. I like to use red cabbage for added colour. Just thinking about all that anthocyanin does you good.
Shred the cabbage and blanche it in boiling water for a minute or two. It’s good when it’s softened, but still has some bite to it.
Beansprouts
I haven’t used beansprouts in this particular gado gado recipe, mostly because they’re hard to get hold of and I wasn’t prepared enough to sprout my own. However, if you make your own sprouts or can get hold of them, they bake a good addition.
Lightly blanch the beansprouts. About a minute in boiling water should do it.
Potatoes
You need some sort of carbohydrates to fill you up and potatoes fit the bill perfectly. They go so well with peanut sauce. And they are traditional after all. I like to use new potatoes when they’re in season as they’re just so delicious, but any potato is good.
Give them a good scrub, cut into bite sized pieces and boil in salted water until tender.
Cucumber
It’s nice to have something cool and crunchy in this salad and cucumber fits the bill marvellously. I like to deseed mine, but you don’t have to. Just slice and add to the salad.
Other Vegetables To Use
Broccoli – lightly steamedCauliflower – lightly steamedSpinach – blanchedCarrots – grated raw or cut into batons and blanchPumpkin or squash – steamed until tenderTomatoes – quartered or halved, depending on sizeSalad leaves – lettuce or other salad leaves are a welcome addition. They add freshness and crunch.

Gado Gado

Gado gado is a simple plate of healthy vegetables and salad. You don’t need to do anything to the vegetables other than boil or steam them as the peanut sauce is so very flavoursome.
The salad may sound a bit simple, but once you’ve dressed it with the awesome spicy peanut sauce, you’ll find yourself addicted. Serve it like I’ve done on a platter with a drizzle of peanut sauce for people to pick out whatever takes their fancy. Or mix it all together and serve in a large salad bowl.
Close up of a gado gado platter complete with bowl of spicy peanut sauce.Apart from cooking the vegetables individually, there’s not really much effort required for this dish. You’ll need a food processor or blender to make the peanut sauce, but other than that, just a sharp knife and a few pots and pans.
The recipe I’ve given at the bottom of this post is a complete meal. It serves four as a light lunch and two hungry people as a main. Just up the quantities if you’re feeding more.
To turn it into a feast, serve the gado gado alongside some sort of rice dish. A simplified Indonesian nasi goreng (stir fried rice) is an obvious contender.
Crispy Onions
A few caramelised crispy onions or shallots scattered over the top of the salad adds a contrasting sweetness and crunch. They’re not necessary, but definitely recommended.
You can cook an onion long and slow in a frying pan, but I find I get crispier results in my air-fryer. Alternatively you can buy crispy shallots in specialist Asian stores.
Awesome Peanut Sauce
The peanut sauce is a total flavour bomb and completely irresistible. It’s sweet, savoury and spicy. To be honest you could cover pretty much anything with it and you’d probably still want to tuck in.
Traditionally, gado gado peanut sauce is made with roasted peanuts. I just use a good quality peanut butter instead. It’s a lot easier and it tastes amazing.
A bowl of spicy peanut sauce forming part of a Gado gado Indonesian salad platter.Kecap manis, a sweet Indonesian soy sauce, is a key ingredient for the peanut sauce in Indonesia. It’s not particularly easy to get hold of over here though. Instead, I use a little coconut sugar or soft brown sugar mixed with tamari. I use tamari because it’s just the best soy sauce I’ve come across. It’s gluten-free, full of umami flavour and isn’t quite as salty as others.
The other key ingredients are chilli, garlic and lime juice, though a little vegan fish sauce doesn’t go amiss if you can get it.
Spicy peanut sauce ingredients.Spicy peanut sauce ingredientsIf needed, adjust the quantities a little until you have the mix of sweet, salt, sour and heat exactly how you like it. You may find two teaspoons of soy sauce is enough, but prefer more lime or less chilli. As long as you bear in mind that the peanut sauce is pretty much the only flavouring in the salad. It needs to be punchy.
Drizzle half of the sauce over the vegetables just before you’re ready to serve. If you add it too soon, everything will get a bit soggy and it won’t be as easy to distinguish the different flavours and textures.
Serve the remaining sauce on the side so that people can help themselves, as needed.
Gado Gado: Step-by-Step
Gado gado is quite a simple recipe, but you do need a few pots and pans to cook the various vegetables and protein elements. It may seem as though there are a lot of steps, but most of them only take a minute or so.
Gado gado Indonesian salad platter complete with bowl of spicy peanut sauce.Step 1. Crispy Onions
Start by getting the onions or shallots on to fry. They need some long and slow cooking to caramelise them and crisp them up.
Sliced onion rings on chopping board.Slice onions into rings as thinly as possibleSlice the onion into rings as thinly as you can. I use a sharp knife, but a mandoline is useful.
Fry it in oil in a large frying pan over a low heat for about thirty minutes until caramelised and crisp. Stir occasionally. If necessary, drain on some kitchen paper. Otherwise set aside until needed.
Crispy onions in an air fryer basket.Air Fryer Crispy OnionsAlternatively, “fry” the onion rings an air-fryer for about twenty minutes. Mix with the oil before placing in the air fryer. I find this method gives a crispier result.
Step 2. Boil Egg
Boil the egg, if using, for seven minutes. Cover with cold water for a minute or so, then remove and set aside until needed.
Step 3. Boil Potatoes
Scrub the potatoes well, then cut into bite-sized chunks. Place in a pan along with a pinch of sea salt and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until tender. This usually takes between ten and fifteen minutes depending on size and potato variety.
New potatoes in a pan covered in water.Cover potatoes with water and boil until tender.Drain and leave to cool.
Step 4. Cook Beans
Top the beans, but no need to tail them if they’re fresh. Halve or quarter them, depending on size.
blankCook beans until just tender, then drain.Boil some water in a large lidded pan along with a pinch of sea salt. Add the beans and simmer with the lid on for three to four minutes until just tender.
Drain, but hang on to the water.
Step 5. Cook Cabbage
With a sharp knife, shred the cabbage. You could use a food processor for this, but I find it’s not worth it for small amounts.
Shredded red cabbage on a chopping board.Shred the cabbage with a sharp knife.Pour the drained water from the beans back into the pan and bring to the boil. Add the shredded cabbage and simmer with the lid on for two minutes or until al dente.
Drain the cabbage, but hang on to the water to use in soups or similar. It’s highly nutritious and a shame to waste it. I’ll often add a little miso paste to it and drink as a cuppa soup.
Step 6. Fry Tempeh
Cut the tempeh into thick slices, then halve or quarter them. In a frying pan, heat the remaining bit of oil. Fry the slices over a moderate heat for about three minutes until golden brown, then flip over and cook on the other side for the same amount of time.
Tempeh slices frying in a cast iron skillet.Fry the tempeh until golden brown.Step 7. Grate Carrots
Whilst everything is cooking, scrub the carrots. There’s no need to peel them though as much of the goodness is in the skin. Just top and tail, then grate.
Grated carrots - a mix of orange and yellow.Grate the carrots.I use a box grater for carrots as there’s only a small amount, but you could use a food processor if you prefer.
In case you’re wondering from the photos, I used one orange carrot and one yellow one.
Step 8. Prepare Cucumber
Slice the cucumber in whichever way you like. I prefer mine deseeded and then cut into half moons. You can see how I do this in my recipe for cucumber cream cheese sandwich filling.
Step 9. Wash Salad Leaves
Rinse the salad leaves in cold water. Then either place in a colander and give several good shakes to get the worst of the water off them, or better still use a salad spinner*.
Step 10. Make Peanut Sauce
Place all of the peanut sauce ingredients, bar the water into a mini food processor or blender and whiz until smooth. Add a little water if the blades get stuck. Then add enough water to make a pourable, but not too thin dressing. Just add a little at a time until you get the right consistency.
Taste to ensure the sauce is completely awesome. If not add a bit of whatever you think it needs.
Step 11. Crush Peanuts
Use a pestle and mortar to roughly crush the roasted peanuts. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar, roughly chop them with a knife.
blankCrush salted peanuts in a pestle and mortar.Step 12. Serve
Serve at room temperature with the remaining lime half for anyone who feels they need an extra squeeze.

Gado gado platter with a bowl of spicy peanut sauce ensconced.1. Lay the various ingredients out on a platter with the peanut sauce in a bowl alongside, if liked. Gado gado platter with bowl of spicy peanut sauce.2. Drizzle with some of the peanut sauce.Lay out the various ingredients onto a large platter. Then drizzle half of the peanut sauce over everything. Serve the other half in a bowl alongside so that people can help themselves to extra if they want it. I can pretty much guarantee they will.

Gado gado platter without egg.3. Scatter the onions and crushed peanuts over the top. Gado gado platter with egg.4. Peel and quarter the egg, if using, and add to the salad.Scatter the crispy onions over the top, followed by the crushed peanuts. Finally peel the egg, quarter it and add to the salad.
Alternatively, just mix everything up together in a large salad bowl.

Vegan Gado Gado

The egg is the only element in this recipe for gado gado that isn’t vegan. So if it’s a vegan gado gado salad you’re after, just swap the egg for fried tofu or a little more tempeh.
Vegan gado gado platter complete with bowl of spicy peanut sauce.

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Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this gado gado Indonesian salad, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And do please rate the recipe. Have you any top tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #nanorecetas, so I can spot them.
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Choclette x

Gado Gado. PIN IT.

Close up of a gado gado Indonesian salad platter with spicy peanut sauce.

Gado Gado – The Recipe

Gado gado Indonesian salad platter complete with bowl of spicy peanut sauce. Print
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Gado Gado: Indonesian Vegetable Salad

A mix of cooked, blanched and raw vegetables with protein and an awesome peanut sauce. Gado gado is a naturally vegan, or vegetarian if you include egg, Indonesian vegetable salad. It’s absolutely delicious and a complete meal in itself. It’s easy to incorporate plenty of different coloured foods so you can glow in your own virtue as you eat the rainbow.Prep Time30 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time1 hrCourse: Main CourseCuisine: IndonesianKeyword: peanut butter, peanut sauce, salad, tempeh, vegan, vegetarianServings: 2 peopleCalories: 456kcalAuthor: Choclette @ Tin and ThymeIngredients1 onion (optional)1 tbsp peanut oil (I used sunflower oil)1 egg swap for more tempeh or tofu if vegan150 g new potatoes 4-8 depending on size125 g green beans (I used French beans)150 g cabbage shredded (I used red cabbage)1-2 carrots grated50 g cucumber30 g salad leaves rinsed and dried100 g tempeh swap for 125g tofu1 tbsp roasted peanuts roughly crushedAwesome Peanut Sauce25 g peanut butter (1 ¾ tbsp)½ tsp coconut sugar or soft brown sugar2-3 tsp soy sauce (I used 2 tsp tamari, which is quite potent stuff)½ tbsp vegan fish sauce (optional, but highly recommended)1 red chilli use half or even a quarter if you don’t like things too hot1 clove garlic½ lime – juiced2-4 tbsp waterInstructionsStart by frying the onion, if using. Slice it as thin as you can, then fry it with ½ tbsp of oil over a low heat for about thirty minutes until caramelised and crisp. Stir occasionally. Alternatively, “fry” in an air-fryer for about twenty minutes at 130℃ (275℉). Mix with the oil before placing in the air fryer.1 onionBoil the egg for seven minutes, then cover briefly with cold water. Set aside.1 eggScrub the potatoes and cut into bite-sized chunks. Boil in water with a pinch of salt until tender. About fifteen minutes. Drain and leave to cool.150 g new potatoesHalve or quarter the beans, depending on size. Place them in a large pan of boiling water with a pinch of salt. Boil for about three to four minutes, until just tender. Drain, but reserve the water.125 g green beansShred the cabbage. Return the bean water to the pan and bring back to the boil. Add the cabbage and cook for a couple of minutes. You want the cabbage slightly softened, but still with a good bit of bite to it. Drain and leave to cool.150 g cabbageCut the tempeh (or tofu) into thick slices, then halve or quarter them. In a frying pan, heat the remaining ½ tbsp of oil. Fry the slices over a moderate heat for about three minutes until golden brown, then flip over and cook on the other side for the same amount of time.100 g tempehMeanwhile, grate the carrots, slice the cucumber and wash the lettuce.1-2 carrots, 50 g cucumber, 30 g salad leavesJust before serving, peel the egg and slice into quarters.Awesome Peanut SaucePlace all ingredients, bar the water into a mini food processor or blender and whiz until smooth. Add enough water to make a pourable, but not too thin dressing.25 g peanut butter, ½ tsp coconut sugar or soft brown sugar, 2-3 tsp soy sauce, ½ tbsp vegan fish sauce, 1 red chilli, 1 clove garlic, ½ lime – juiced, 2-4 tbsp waterTo serve lay all of the vegetables out on a large plate along with the tempeh / tofu and egg, if using. Alternatively mix everything up in a large bowl.Drizzle half of the peanut sauce over the top then scatter with the crispy onions and crushed peanuts. Serve the remaining sauce alongside for people to help themselves.1 tbsp roasted peanutsNotesSwap the vegetables whichever ones you like or what’s in season.Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They’re approximate and will depend on exact ingredients used.NutritionCalories: 456kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 857mg | Potassium: 1309mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 6726IU | Vitamin C: 110mg | Calcium: 186mg | Iron: 5mg Share on Facebook

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