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Garuda Bird
The Sign of Indonesia

Jun 4, 2010


Gado-gado is a traditional dish in Indonesian cuisine, and is a vegetable salad served with a peanut sauce dressing, eaten as a main dish. It is widely served from hawkers carts, stalls (warung) as well as in restaurants both in Indonesia and worldwide.
         Gado-gado is part of a wide range of Indonesian dressing & salad combinations, along with lotek, pecel and karedok. In many places, to retain authenticity in both the production and flavor, the peanut sauce is made in individual batches, in front of the customers. However, since the dish has gained popularity (because of the increase of Asian-themed restaurants) Gado-gado sauce is now mostly made ahead of time and cooked in bulk, although this is probably more common in Western restaurants rather than in Indonesia. Compared to Western and Indonesian salads, Gado-gado has much more sauce in it. Instead of being used as a light dressing, the vegetables should be well coated in the sauce.
         Many stores now offer Gado-Gado dressing in dried blocks to which you simply add hot water, making it easier and cheaper to cook at home.


Vegetable salad

A traditional Indonesian way of making gado-gado

The exact composition of the vegetable salad varies, but usually comprises some form of mixture of
  • blanched - shredded, chopped, or sliced green vegetables (such as cabbage, kang-kung), bean sprouts, young boiled jack fruit, string bean, bitter melon, and corn (outside of Indonesia, people improvize with whatever vegetables that are available). uncooked - sliced cucumber and lettuce.
  • fried tofu and tempeh.
  • sliced boiled potatoes.
  • peeled and sliced boiled eggs.
The authentic gado-gado does not have carrot and tomatoes. Only the aforementioned vegetables are added to the dish.
Peanut sauce dressing

Gado-gado stall displaying ingredients of the dish

         What distinguishes gado-gado from a plain vegetable salad is the peanut sauce dressing, which is poured on top of the vegetable salad before serving. The composition of this peanut sauce varies as well. One may use a commercial Indonesian peanut sauce or satay sauce, or make the sauce oneself. For making the sauce, the common primary ingredients are as follows:
  • ground fried peanuts (kidney beans may be substituted for a richer taste)
  • coconut sugar/palm sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
  • chillies (according to taste)
  • limo lime juice
  • terasi (dried shrimp paste)
  • tamarind water
  • water to dilute
         Note the above is for Jakarta style gado-gado. Gado-gado is always served with some kind of crackers, usually tapioca crackers, or also with Emping (Indonesian style fried crackers, which are made from melinjo)
         In Indonesia, Gado-gado is usually served with rice or lontong (rice cake wrapped in banana leaf)

How to make Gado-gado


Indonesian-Style Salad Recipe - Easy Gado Gado Salad

This is a simplified version of the Gado Gado salad served in Indonesian restaurants, using easier to find ingredients. It makes an interesting alternative to potato salad.

Serves 6


  • Salad:
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup cabbage, shredded
  • 3/4 cup green beans, sliced
  • 3/4 cup carrots, sliced
  • 3/4 cup cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1/3 cup snow peas
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • 2 red potatoes, cut into wedges
  • Peanut Dressing:
  • 3/4 to 1 cup coconut milk (depending on whether you want a thicker or thinner sauce)
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon red curry paste or chile paste (or Tabasco sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (or substitute 1 tablespoon soy sauce)


Wash all the vegetables. Ideally, with the exception of the eggs and cucumber, all of the salad ingredients should be blanched or boiled in a large pot of boiling water. However, if you are pressed for time you can serve them raw with the exception of the potato, which has to be boiled. To blanch: plunge the vegetable briefly in the boiling water, then plunge into cold water. This leaves the vegetables nicely crisp and neither too firm or limp. Drain all the vegetables.

Arrange the vegetables on a serving platter, starting on the outside of the platter and work inwards, arranging the vegetables in a colorful pattern. Top with the chopped eggs.

To make the dressing: In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a boil. Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes, until the peanut butter has melted and the mixture is thickened.

Gado-Gado Surabaya
Guest Writer: Indonesia-Eats (The Art and Science of Food)

         Gado-gado is one of the well-known dishes from Indonesia. Gado-gado literally means “mix mix” since gado-gado is the plural word of gado, so gado-gado means mixes. In Indonesia, gado-gado is not a salad dish group, it is a one dish meal.
         Speaking about gado-gado in Indonesia, several different numbers of gado-gado were developed based on the region. In East Java (around Surabaya), we call it Gado-gado Siram or Gado-gado Surabaya. Siram means pour as we order the food, the seller will place the ingredients (lontong, blanched vegetables, steamed potatoes, boiled eggs, tempe, tofu, etc.) on a plate and then pre-made gado-gado sauce is poured over, garnish with fried shallots and top with crackers (melinjo nuts and shrimp crackers). While in West Java (around Bandung and Bogor), the sellers will combine ground peanuts and spices, grind them in a mortar and pestle, add the cooked vegetables, mix them together, and transfer into a plate.
         Another style of gado-gado that I relish is gado-gado boplo from Jakarta. Boplo is an area in Jakarta where this style of gado-gado can be found. What is the difference between gado-gado siram and boplo? Gado-gado siram uses peanuts while Gado-gado Boplo uses cashew nuts.
         In addition, Gado-gado has carbohydrate supply from lontong and potatoes. Tempeh, tofu and eggs are the protein sources. Last but not least, the vegetables. Gado-gado can be made for pescetarianisms or pesco vegetarianisms who still consume fish and seafood; it can also be consumed by lacto-ovo vegetarians who include eggs and dairy products in their diet. Also, you can go for vegan by omitting dried shrimp paste (Indonesian: terasi/trassi, Malay: belachan/belacan) in gado-gado sauce and shrimp cracker, and skipping the egg. By leaving out the shrimp crackers, gado-gado is totally safe for people with celiac disease that can’t have any wheat in their diet.
         In this post, I contribute an authentic recipe of Gado-gado Surabaya or Gado-gado siram, it might be pretty intimidating with the long list of ingredients, but it will be worth it.

Recipe: Gado-Gado Surabaya (Gado-Gado Siram)
Modified by Indonesia-eats

-Blanched/steamed vegetables
-long green beans, cut into 4-5 cm long
-Chinese cabbage, shredded
-Bean sprouts
Fresh Vegetables
-Tomato, wedged
-Cucumber, sliced
Other Complements
-Boiled/steamed potatoes, sliced
-Boiled eggs, wedged
-Fried/baked tempe
-Fried/baked tofu
-Lontong (rice cake with log shape), cut into 1 cm thick
-Ready-to-use fried shallot
-Melinjo nuts crackers
-Shrimp crackers
Gado-gado sauce
-10 cloves garlic, stir fried/fried/roasted
-300 g roasted/fried peanuts (In this case, I used 1 cup of organic crunchy peanut butter)
-1000 ml coconut milk
-10 red chilies, discard the seed and stir fried/fried
-1 tsp terasi (dried shrimp paste), toasted
-1 block of coconut sugar (about 62.5 grams)
-2-3 tbsp rice flour dissolve in a small amount of water
-20 red bird eyes chilies, boiled /steamed
-1/2 tsp sugar
-Sea salt as desired
Gado-Gado Sauce
1.      Process garlic, peanuts/peanut butter, a half part of coconut milk, red chilies, terasi, coconut sugar in a food processor or blender.
2.      In a sauce pot, combine processed mixture with the rest of coconut milk, stir and turn on the stove at low-medium heat. Stir occasionally.
3.      Cook sauce until boiled, the volume reduced and the sauce surface looks a bit oily. Add rice flour mixture. Keep stirring until bubbling about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Combine all ingredients and process in a food processor/blender or you can grind them with mortar and pestle.
Place lettuce, slices of lontong and boiled potatoes, blanched vegetables, wedges of boiled egg, slices of fried tempe and tofu, and wedges of tomato, slices of cucumber. Pour the warm sauce over, garnish with fried shallot, crushed shrimp crackers and emping nuts crackers. Put sambal on the side as people has different tastebuds to handle the spiciness. You can omit the sambal if you don’t like the spicy sauce.
-          If the sauce to thick, add a small amount of water.
-          Always try the sauce before remove from the heat, so you can add salt or coconut sugar to match your tastebuds.
-          Serve gado-gado sauce while it is still warm. Warm up the sauce if it is cold.
If you still have leftover sauce, keep it in a jar and refrigerate/freeze. You may use for other dipping purposes.

Emping Melinjo: Melinjo or padi oats crackers
Lontong: Rice cake with log shape
Kerupuk/krupuk Udang: shrimp crackers
Tempe/Tempeh: Indonesian fermented soy bean cake
Terasi/Trassi: dried shrimp paste

Author : Pradhana Riza F.
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