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Gado-Gado - Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce

Indonesian salad served with a super awesome peanut sauce with a tang of tamarind, sweetness of palm sugar, the umami of shrimp paste, and a kick of chili.
Gado-Gado - Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce

Gado-Gado - Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce

Gado-gado is my favorite Indonesian salad. This Sundanese dish is a national favorite, and it consists of lightly boiled and blanched vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, fried tofu and/or tempeh cubes, and lontong (steamed rice cakes) served with spicy peanut sauce.

For most Indonesian, gado-gado is pretty much our national salad, and apparently, since 2018, gado-gado has been designated as one of Indonesian five national food (the other four being soto, sate, rendang, and nasi goreng).

Personally, whenever I return home to Indonesia, gado-gado is definitely one of the food that I must eat, and this is one of the foods I make whenever I’m feeling homesick. ♥

What are the typical ingredients in a gado-gado?

The literal translation of gado-gado is mix-mix, so basically it is a dish made of a mixture of ingredients. And, although I have translated gado-gado as a salad, this dish is more like a complete meal on its own.

A proper gado-gado should have the following ingredients:

  • lontong/ketupat (steamed rice cake), this is the carb
  • boiled potatoes, also a carb
  • hard-boiled eggs, the protein
  • fried tofu and/or tempe cubes, another protein
  • an assortment of lightly blanched and raw vegetables
  • kerupuk udang (prawn crackers) and/or emping (melinjo crackers)
  • bawang goreng (fried shallots)
  • spicy peanut sauce

The more popular vegetable choice for gado-gado includes long/snake beans (Indonesian: kacang panjang), mung bean sprouts (Indonesian: tauge), spinach (Indonesian: bayam), or water spinach (Indonesian: kangkung), chayote (Indonesian: labu siam), cabbage (Indonesian: kol), and cucumber (Indonesian: timun).

Aside from the cucumber, the rest of the vegetables are typically lightly blanched, or boiled to the point they start to wilt.

Although these vegetables are what we commonly use in our gado-gado, feel free to use any vegetables you have at home.

Some of the vegetables that I have personally used includes green beans (perfect to sub for long/snake beans), sweet potato (perfect to sub for regular potato), red cabbage, lettuce, or napa cabbage (perfect to sub for regular cabbage), broccoli, carrots, tomato, and radishes.

Ingredients to prepare Indonesian gado-gado peanut sauce: fried peanuts, red chilies, garlic, palm sugar, salt, terasi/belacan/shrimp paste, tamarind, lime, and kecap manis.

Ingredients to prepare Indonesian gado-gado peanut sauce: fried peanuts, red chilies, garlic, palm sugar, salt, terasi/belacan/shrimp paste, tamarind, lime, and kecap manis.

How to prepare gado-gado peanut dressing/sauce?

There are so many foods in Indonesia that have peanut sauce, not just gado-gado. Each food has its distinct mixture and even texture of peanut sauce.

A typical gado-gado peanut sauce is made from fried/roasted peanuts, garlic, palm sugar (Indonesian: gula Jawa), bird-eye chilies (Indonesian: cabe rawit), toasted terasi/belacan/shrimp paste, salt, tamarind (Indonesian: asam Jawa), lime, sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis), and water.

If you order a gado-gado from an Indonesian restaurant that specializes in selling gado-gado, your sauce is typically made from scratch once the order is placed. Sometimes, the seller even grinds the sauce right in front of you. And as he/she makes the sauce, you can request to tweak the sauce a bit, like, adding more garlic, reducing the chilies, e.t.c., which I think is quite cool.

At home though, I typically make a big batch of peanut sauce at once since it’s easier. Here is how to prepare the peanut sauce:

  1. Using a food processor, grind peanuts, garlic, palm sugar, chilies, terasi/belacan/shrimp paste, and salt. Try to stop when the peanuts still have some chunks and not completely turned into a smooth paste.
  2. Transfer the peanut mixture into a mixing bowl, add tamarind juice, lime juice, and sweet soy sauce.
  3. Then add enough hot water to the mixture while stirring to get the consistency of the peanut sauce that you like.
Gado-Gado - Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce

Gado-Gado - Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce

Make-ahead gado-gado peanut sauce

Whenever I’m in the mood to make some gado-gado sauce, I always make them in a big batch. Usually,I make four times the amount listed here!

Follow the sauce prep up to step 2. Then, gather the peanut sauce mixture and shape into several blocks, for ease, I usually make sure that one block is enough for one serving.

Wrap each peanut sauce block with a saran wrap and refrigerate/freeze. The sauce should last for up to 1 week if refrigerated, and can last up to 2 months if frozen.

When I want to eat some gado-gado, I simply remove one block of the peanut sauce and mix it with hot water. I think it is a very neat trick. :)

Gado-Gado - Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce

Gado-Gado - Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce

Other Indonesian dishes with peanut sauce

If you love dishes with peanut sauce, you may want to try these Indonesian recipes, each with its own unique peanut sauce:

Gado-Gado - Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce

5.0 from 28 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson

Categories:

Cuisine:

Ingredients:

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Serves: 4

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • Gado-gado spicy peanut sauce
  • 200 gram peanut, deep-fried or roasted
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 50 gram palm sugar (Indonesian: gula Jawa)
  • 1 to 10 Thai chilies (Indonesian: cabe rawit), seeded - use as much or as little as you like
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (Indonesian: terasi, Malaysian: belacan), toasted, omit to make a vegetarian sauce
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind pulp, soaked in 2 tablespoon of warm water to get the juice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis)
  • 2 cup hot water
  • The carbs
  • 4 potatoes, peeled, cubed, and boiled
  • ketupat/lontong/steamed rice cake
  • The protein
  • 4 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and cut into quarters
  • deep fried tofu
  • deep fried tempeh
  • The vegetables
  • blanched cabbage (Indonesian: kol)
  • blanched bean sprouts (Indonesian: tauge)
  • blanched snake beans (Indonesian: kacang panjang)
  • blanched spinach (Indonesian: bayam)
  • boiled chayote (Indonesian: labu siam)
  • raw cucumber (Indonesian: timun)
  • Garnish and accompaniments
  • fried shallots (Indonesian: bawang goreng)
  • prawn crackers (Indonesian: kerupuk udang)
  • melinjo crackers (Indonesian: emping)

Instructions

  • Gado-gado spicy peanut sauce
    1. Using a food processor, grind peanuts, garlic, palm sugar, chilies, terasi/belacan/shrimp paste, and salt. Try to stop when the peanuts still have some chunks and not completely turned into a smooth paste.
    2. Transfer the peanut mixture into a mixing bowl, add tamarind juice, lime juice, and sweet soy sauce.
    3. Then add enough hot water to the mixture while stirring to get the consistency of the peanut sauce that you like.
  • To serve
    1. Arrange all gado-gado ingredients in a plate/bowl, the carbs, the protein, and the vegetables. Garnish with fried shallots and crackers. Serve the peanut sauce in a separate bowl.
    2. Just prior to eating the salad, pour the peanut sauce and mix well.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen

Comments

  • Morgan Morgan says:

    Today is a happy day. Saya menemukan blog Anita! Saya sangat suka makanan Indonesia. Termia kasih untuk membuat resepnya! :]

    • Anita Anita says:

      Thank you for checking out the blog, Morgan. I always feel happy when people say they like Indonesian food. ♥

  • Yayoi Yayoi says:

    Excellent recipe!

  • Emma Emma says:

    Great recipe! My grandmother and my great aunts never made it with potatoes OR eggs- just cabbage, sprouts, and whatever other vegetables she had laying around. I think they add lots of heartiness to the dish though! Definitely will be making it that way from now on.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Thanks Emma! For most Indonesians, gado-gado needs eggs and potatoes. When the salad lacks these two ingredients, we'll probably make pecel instead of gado-gado. But since the peanut sauce is super delicious, you are right that it will still be more than delicious even without the eggs and potatoes :)

  • Dannii Dannii says:

    I had this when I was in Thailand and it's so good. Such simple flavours too.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Wow, I didn't know you can get Indonesian gado-gado in Thailand. But they do taste delicious, don't they? :)

  • Danielle Wolter Danielle Wolter says:

    omg that peanut sauce, it sounds incredible. the flavors in this are some of my favorite. this is a great dish!

  • Jen Jen says:

    I love trying new dishes and this sounds fabulous! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Demeter Demeter says:

    This peanut sauce is so good! Really adds so much flavor. Loved it!

  • Noelle Noelle says:

    Peanut sauce goes with so many thing, I love to add it to veggies or even a salad! This one is so simple, thank you!

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    The peanut sauce was so flavorful and delicious! We all loved it!

  • Pam Greer Pam Greer says:

    I have never heard of this salad before! The peanut sauce is just amazing and I use it on so many things!

  • Iryna Iryna says:

    Love the ingredients in this peanut sauce! I'm sure this salad tastes incredible with the sauce!

  • Chichi Chichi says:

    This dish is my kind of thing. I love everything in it, especially the peanut sauce. 😋

  • Galih Tanu Galih Tanu says:

    Mbak kacangnya jangan terlalu halus giling ya. Supaya sensasi mengunyah butiran kacangnya tetep ada.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Terima kasih atas masukannya Galih. Iya, aku suka terakhirnya tambahin lagi taburan kacang goreng giling kasar, hihi, dasar terlalu suka dengan kacang ini. :)

  • Beth Beth says:

    I loved learning about this traditional dish! It looks so flavorful and I think I may drink the sauce with a straw - delish!

  • Tonje Tonje says:

    I have never heard of this salad before, but I am absolutely in love. Such a great recipe!

  • Julie Zimmerman Julie Zimmerman says:

    Can't wait to give this a try! Thanks for sharing!

  • David David says:

    I'm glad to have come across this recipe for gado gado! I used to make a vegetarian version from the Moosewood cookbook and it was delicious. Clearly your version and tips are more authentic (although the one I mentioned was quite tasty too).

    • Anita Anita says:

      I've had the good fortune to visit Moosewood restaurant once in Ithaca, NY. I love their dishes! I didn't know they have a version for a vegetarian Indonesian gado-gado. I bet it must be delicious too judging from all the dishes I had.

  • Deepika Haldankar Deepika Haldankar says:

    This sounds like a delicious recipe. I love peanut sauce. I will give it a try for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jessica Jessica says:

    This is my absolute favorite salad recipe! The peanut sauce totally sends it over the top!

  • SHANIKA SHANIKA says:

    This Salad looks so flavorful! I'm loving all of the ingredients! So easy to make!

  • Lizet  Bowen Lizet Bowen says:

    Sounds amazing! I just need shrimp paste and I'm ready to make it.

  • Sara Welch Sara Welch says:

    I am always a sucker for peanut sauce and this recipe is no exception! Looking forward to enjoying this for dinner tonight, indeed!

  • Milky Milky says:

    While I was making this, I thought to myself, "Anita, you are putting every Indonesian restaurant out of business for giving away the secret of gado-gado." It's probably the first Indonesian dish I knew by name, and I have so many special memories of eating it (even watching, transfixed, as the sauce was ground up by stone just for my order.)

    Then I looked at my kitchen after; the fry oil mess, the water pots for boiling and blanching, the food processor parts to clean... And that's when I knew all the restaurants were safe. To make gado-gado the way I want, with all the proper ingredients cooked in all the right ways, is a pretty big job! (fried tempe, fried tofu, fried shallot (ready-made), the fried shrimp chips, boiled potato, boiled egg, boiled ketupat (I found a ready-to-boil sachet at R99), blanched cabbage, blanched beans, blanched bean sprout, cucumber...)

    So... If you want resto-style gado-gado, you're looking at a lot of work.

    But! This recipe provides a lot of helpful substitutions and alternatives- So if I want an "easy" version, I know what ingredients could work. I also halved the peanut sauce paste and froze it as suggested- and it reconstituted really nicely! I think it can even be portioned as individual servings of sauce, which is very convenient. Also since the veggies are mostly blanched/cooked, it keeps in the fridge better than a lettuce salad.

    As far as the sauce, I didn't have the nice peanuts like in the photo, but just the typical US jarred "roasted and lightly salted" peanuts. I think if I use this type again, I will toast them a little bit myself to develop the flavor. I also used 1 serrano pepper (I didn't see anything hotter at the market) and I think I should have added more (especially as it sits in the fridge/freezer, the heat dies down.) It's sort of hard to give helpful tips about spiciness, but in my experience eating gado-gado, it's a pretty spicy sauce (it's certainly not like the super-sweet, mild stuff you get at the American Thai restaurants, lol)

    All in all, a really cool recipe, delicious, healthy, flexible... but more complex than it looks!

  • Jez Lim Jez Lim says:

    I luv gado gado and have been looking for a tasty short cut for as Long as I can remember. The traditional recipe given to me by my Mother in law's Indonesian Friend, albeit rich and delish, was just too laborious to make. I just about gave up making my own and found a canned satay sauce as an acceptable substitute when I chanced upon your recipe. I can't thank you enough. Your recipe has all the right components for a perfectly balanced and really really awesome sauce. The proportions were just right for a sour, sweet (I'm from Malaysia and I used Gula Melaka), salty and pungent sauce - of course spiciness is up to the individual's taste buds. This is definitely a keeper and I will be making it more often. Thank you.

  • Andrea Metlika Andrea Metlika says:

    The Peanut sauce is everything and more. I love how you just slather it on top of everything. Looks so delicious!

  • LINDSEY PINE LINDSEY PINE says:

    I've never heard of gado-gado, but now I know that I need to try it! This looks wonderful!

  • Jessica Jessica says:

    I served this salad with dinner last night and everyone loved it! Such a fun mix of ingredients!

  • Jas @ All that's Jas Jas @ All that's Jas says:

    Love exploring new dishes from around the world. This salad looks so delicious and satisfying!

  • Toni Toni says:

    This is so good! Packed full of amazing flavors!

  • Li Li says:

    Hi Anita, how long do you fry or bake the peanut ? I don't want to overbake/ overfry. In the past, I made the mistake of frying and then when I took it off heat, the nuts continue to cook!!! Any guidance as to how long to deep fry the nut?

    • Anita Anita says:

      When I make Indonesian peanut sauces, I usually deep-fry the peanuts. Here's how I usually do it:
      1. Place dry peanuts in a wok/pot, top with enough cold (room temperature) oil to cover the peanuts, then turn on the heat to medium.
      2. Stir constantly. Eventually bubbles will appear from the peanuts, keep on stirring until there are less and less bubbles, and you should hear some peanuts "pop". Usually, you will only need barely more than 1 minute once this happens. But always go with visual cues. Even if none of the peanuts pop but the color is the right shade, the peanuts are most likely done and fully cooked.
      3. Remember to dish out the peanuts when the color is about two shades lighter than what you want them to be since dished out peanuts will still continue cooking for a while even after removed from the hot oil.
      I hope these helps.

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