I can still remember the first time I ate gado-gado.  It was at a restaurant in Carlton, Melbourne, called Nyonya.  At the time I thought it was the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted (still do), the only possible challenger would being Laksa (a Malaysian coconut curry soup) which I also tried for the first time at the same restaurant.  That was in the late 80’s (possibly even very early 90’s) when I was vegetarian.    Around the same time I discovered a little Indonesian cookbook on my mothers shelf.  It was written in the late 1960s by an Indonesian woman who’d migrated to Australia and was trying to recapture the cuisine of her homeland using the ingredients available in Melbourne at that time.  Whilst now it is absolutely no problem finding all manner of Indonesian ingredients locally, then it would have been a very different story.  Anyway in the book was a recipe for gado-gado, or more specifically for the peanut sauce that is used to dress gado-gado and I’ve been making versions of that sauce ever since.  In retrospect its interesting that my mother possessed such a book as I certainly don’t remember her ever cooking from it – well not until the mid to late 90s at least.  Growing up our diets were pretty much meat and 3 veg or pasta with not much variation at all.

Gado-Gado is an Indonesian salad with a satay type dressing.  Its served either cold or warm, the salad ingredients vary but it is always eaten is topped with a lovely creamy peanut sauce.

This is how I make mine:

Gado-Gado Sauce:

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 tspn finely grated garlic
  • 1/2 tspn finely grated turmeric (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic -crushed
  • 2 tblspns oil
  • 1/2- 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tblspn soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp tamarind puree (or if unavailable lemon juice works really well)
  • 4 tblspn peanut butter
  • 165ml coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water

Heat the oil in a small/medium sized saucepan.  Fry onion until it starts to brown, add ginger, garlic and turmeric and fry until golden.  Add chilli powder, stir.  Then add soy sauce, sugar, tamarind puree (if using lemon juice add it at the end rather than at this point) and peanut butter.  Cook over a very gentle heat for a couple of minutes until the peanut butter has melted down.  Add the coconut milk and the sauce will thicken considerably.  Gradually add the water until you reach a very thick pouring consistency.  Taste and season with more tamarind, sugar and salt if needed.

I usually make gado-gado by steaming some veg, hard boiling a couple of eggs and serving the veg and eggs covered in sauce and on rice.  It is a great dish for using up little harvests especially if, like me, you tend to grow small amounts of a wide variety of things.  Some of my favourite veg to use include: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, capsicum, carrots, silver beet and green beans. It is also worth trying with raw vegetables, especially cucumber, carrots and capsicum.

For other ‘straight from the garden’ ideas head over to The Gardener of Eden’s Thursday Kitchen Cupboard , and Greenish Thumb’s Garden to Table.

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27 Responses to Gado-Gado

  1. This is something I’ve never tasted although I mus be one of the few people who have never tasted peanut butter! It sounds interesting though as I do like curries.

    • Liz says:

      Now that is interesting – you’ve never had peanut butter – how? why? I have to admit I don’t actually like it that much in any form other than this where i absolutely adore it but I’ve certainly had it in many forms before.

  2. Daphne says:

    It sounds delicious.

  3. Dave says:

    I’ve never had Gado-Gado on anything, but there’s nothing not to like in there! I do love coconut milk based curries and sauces, so this sounds quite tasty.

  4. kitsapFG says:

    This is very similar to the peanut sauce I make to do Thai Chicken and Spinach with Peanut Sauce. It is delicious! One of our favorite meals.

  5. rowena says:

    I am so going to try this and soon!

  6. Sarah says:

    Like you, I remember the first I had gado-gado – in an Indonesian restaurant in Sydney. It was so good, and I’ve tried a few different recipes to recreate the dish, but have never managed to get anything quite as good. Maybe your recipe will be the one!

    • Liz says:

      I hope you enjoy it. I do find that often the first time I eat something is the best – regardless of whether I’m making it myself or eating out – I guess the excitement of discovery is a big part of it.

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever had any Gado-Gado, but it sounds like something I would definitely like. Thanks! 🙂

  8. Leanne Cole says:

    My husband loves this dish, I will have to pass it on to him.
    I’ve eaten at that restaurant as well, it was good. I am pretty it was there when I was about 6 months pregnant with our first daughter that my husband told me we were going to Denmark to live for a few months.

  9. Robin says:

    “The Italian’ makes a peanut sauce which is very similar. I’m going to copy this, he will just love it!

  10. Balvinder says:

    Never had it but this is something interesting.

  11. Hi Liz,

    That sounds fantastic!
    Just one quick question…
    If you are using powdered Turmeric how much would you use instead?

    • Liz says:

      I don’t always use it but if I wanted to (and I do try to add turmeric where possible as I believe its supposed to keep arthritis at bay and I have something of a fmaily history) I would use about 1/2 tsp.

  12. I’ve never had gado gado sauce but it sounds delish!!

  13. Nina says:

    This will be another recipe of yours that I will tuck away and definitely make. I lived in Malaysia for a year a long time ago and I couldn’t get enough of these flavors – so exotic (to me), back then.

    • Liz says:

      I know what you mean – I grew up in a meat and three veg household (with the occasional lasagne or spag bol thrown in).

  14. Love gado gado in our house. My son’s been asking for it recently, eating a few gifted eggs of late. You can see our version here. My mum lives in Indonesia and hates it, have to say my experience of it over there was not so good, needed a good home cook like your 1960s chef.

    • Liz says:

      I’ll be sure to check out your recipe – i’m trying to remember if I ate it in Bali – it can’t have been super memorable if I did…

  15. jane says:

    Hi Liz,
    The sauce sounds delicious…will make it with Violet on the weekend….she might come at anything covered in peanut sauce!!!
    Love the blog, well done,
    jane x

    • Liz says:

      Hope she likes it, Miss almost 6 kind of pretends to but Mr 2 (and acting every bit of it…) just plays with his – which I try to ignore until it lands on the curtains…sigh…. Hope Violet responds in a more civilised fashion. Lovely to hear from you and thanks for the compliment.

  16. Barbara Good says:

    I’m a bit slow catching up with this post, but it sounds delicious. I have a bit of peanut butter left over the farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago. Might have to give this a go, especially I have lots of little bits of harvests.

    • Liz says:

      Definitely try it – I gave the recipe to a friend recently and loved it enough to pass on to her mother so its not just me….

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