Gado Gado (summer feast!)

Summer is coming, so I think it’s time to post one of my favourite summer meals. We have been eating this one long before we cut sugar and wheat from our diet, but it tastes just as good without sugar in the sauce. It’s mostly cold, so perfect on a hot summer night.

I love this meal for kids (and other fussy eaters) because they get to choose what they want to eat from a variety on the platter. I love this meal for mixed vegetarian/omnivore crowds because you can just put the shrimp in a separate bowl for the meat eaters. I love this meal for guests because it presents so well.

Gado Gado table

Gado Gado is basically a big salad with peanut dressing that you eat with your hands. Maybe that’s why I like it.

What the photo above doesn’t show is that during that particular meal we did 3 variations in individual bowls according to who wanted mild (no chili peppers) and who wanted vegetarian (no fish sauce) and who wanted all of it; that’s why the peanut sauces are individual. Usually we just put a nice bowlful on the table with a spoon.

I apologize to whoever published the book we originally got this recipe from. I believe it was an Australian publication. I don’t have it anymore (I remember buying it in Vancouver at a book fair outside the library just after the new central branch was built, which was in 1995) but the recipe lives on.

A few notes about Gado Gado. It is Indonesian and authentic recipes will likely use roasted peanuts instead of peanut butter. You will find as many different variations out there as you will find different recipes. (Search away and try them all!) You will vary the recipe every time. Really, if you have something in the fridge or the garden that you think would work well, try it. If you don’t have some of the things listed, don’t sweat it. As you can see from the photo below there was no mooli/daikon radish, green beans or sprouts but we added regular radish and carrots. If the potatoes are too carby, leave them out. So, having said that, I give you this recipe as a template, really.

If you’ve been making Gado Gado for years and have a delicious ingredient for the salad that I haven’t mentioned here, please add it in the comments! Or if you have a favourite Gado Gado recipe, comment with the link! I think the only change I made to the original recipe below was removing the sugar (and adding a few suggestions). No dairy, no wheat, no sugar, low carb, can be vegetarian.

Gado Gado for 4

  • (1 or 2 potatoes)
  • salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 ounces green beans topped and tailed
  • 1 head romaine lettuce (or other lettuce good for wraps)
  • 4 tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 4 ounces bean sprouts (bean shoots) or whatever sprouts you have
  • 1/2 cucumber peeled and cut into fingers
  • 5 ounces giant mooli (daikon radish) peeled and julienned or grated
  • OR jicama would work (or I bet celeriac would be great)
  • OR raw cabbage works well, too (or do all 3)
  • 6 ounces firm tofu cut into large dice
  • 12 ounces shrimp large, peeled and cooked (or cooked then peeled)
  • 1 small bunch cilantro

Spicy Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 fresh red chili small, seeded and finely chopped (I’m sure I’ve used chili flakes when in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk canned or fresh

Spicy Peanut Sauce: Combine sauce ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Boil the potatoes in salted water and simmer 20 minutes. In another pan, bring salted water to a boil and cook eggs and beans together: lower the eggs into the boiling water; after 6 minutes, add the beans and boil for a further 6 minutes. Cool the potatoes, eggs and beans under cold running water.

Wash and spin the salad leaves and use outer leaves to line a large platter. Pile remainder on one side of the platter.

Slice the potatoes. Shell and quarter the eggs. Arrange the potatoes, eggs, beans, and tomatoes in separate piles. Arrange the other salad ingredients in a similar way to cover the platter.

Turn Spicy Peanut Sauce into an attractive bowl and bring to the table with the salad.

How to eat: take a lettuce leaf, put a little spicy peanut sauce on it, fill it with your desired fillings, wrap the leaf around the toppings and eat it. Bon appetit!

gado gado


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