There are many dishes served with peanut sauce in Indonesia, but none is more famous than gado-gado, which literally translates from Indonesian as ‘mix-mix’. It also comes from the word menggado, which is to consume something without rice, a rarity on these islands. You can easily substitute the suggested vegetables with whatever you have to hand – the key to this dish is a good peanut sauce and a hefty helping of kerupuk or prawn crackers.
You can eat this dish on its own, but it also makes a great side dish as part of a larger feast. The peanut sauce will last for up to 5 days, but once tossed together, gado-gado is best eaten on the same day.
Chilli heat Mild
- Combine the soy sauce and sugar in a small saucepan, place over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and thicken to the consistency of maple syrup. This should take no longer than 5 minutes. Leave to cool.
- If using raw peanuts, heat 300ml of oil to 160°C in a deep saucepan over a high heat. (If you do not have a kitchen thermometer, check the oil is at temperature by adding a cube of bread; it should turn golden in 25–30 seconds.) Carefully lower the peanuts into the hot oil using a slotted spoon. Stirring continuously, as peanuts can easily burn, fry for 4–5 minutes until golden. Remove the peanuts from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a tray lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the chillies and garlic and fry until softened, about 4 minutes.
- Place the fried peanuts or peanut butter in a small food processor with the cooked garlic and chillies, kecap manis, tamarind paste and salt. Pulse briefly, then add a splash of water to loosen the sauce and pulse again. Gradually add water (about 8 tablespoons) and continue to pulse until the sauce is a pourable consistency. Season with salt or more kecap manis as needed.
- Toss the sliced shallots with a little salt to add flavor. Fill a deep saucepan one-third full with oil. Heat the oil to 140°C. (If you do not have a kitchen thermometer, check the oil is at temperature by adding a cube of bread; it should turn golden in 40–45 seconds.) Add the shallots and, stirring occasionally, gently cook for 10–12 minutes. When more than half the shallots are golden, turn off the heat and allow the shallots to brown in the residual heat. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and spread the fried shallots flat on a tray lined with paper towels. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Keep the shallot oil in an airtight container, as it is utterly delicious. I like to stir a little through rice before serving to give a lovely depth of flavor.
- If the tofu is wet, spread the pieces in a single layer on top of several layers of paper towels, then cover with additional paper towels. Let the tofu stand for 15 minutes, pressing down occasionally to squeeze out any excess moisture.
- Bring a pan of salted water to the boil over a high heat and add the baby potatoes. Simmer for 5–8 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and allow to cool, then set aside.
- Refill the pan with salted water, bring to the boil and blanch the broccoli and beans for 1–2 minutes until bright green, crisp and just cooked through. Drain and cool in cold water, then set aside.
- Heat 4 tablespoons of oil with a large pinch of salt in a wok or frying pan over a high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the tempeh and fry for 3–4 minutes until golden. Drain on a tray lined with paper towels. Alternatively, if you prefer to grill tempeh, brush it with a mixture of 1 tablespoon each of oil and kecap manis and place it under the grill on a high heat for 3–4 minutes each side.
- Loosen the peanut sauce with water until it reaches a pourable consistency. Transfer the peanut sauce to a pan and place it over a low heat until just warmed through.
- Arrange the baby potatoes, broccoli, beans, tofu, tempeh, carrot, bean sprouts, cucumber, tomatoes and eggs on individual serving plates or bowls. Sprinkle with the fried shallots and place the crackers on one side of the plate. Serve the peanut sauce on the side in a serving bowl or jug or drizzle generously over the top of each plate, as I like to do. Serve immediately.
Reprinted from Coconut & Sambal by arrangement with Bloomsbury Publishing. Copyright © 2020, Lara Lee. Photography by Louise Hagger.