Chef Lara Lee, author of the cookbook “Coconut & Sambal,” is making gado gado, a salad that will transport your kitchen to Indonesia. Gado gado, which means “mix-mix,” is one of the national dishes of Indonesia and per Lara, it’s a salad for a very hungry person. This salad can be made with whatever veggies you have in your fridge; Lara makes her with tomatoes, broccolini, green beans, potatoes, and more. She adds pan-fried tempeh, firm tofu, hard-boiled eggs and plenty of other mix-ins. It all comes together with a rich and spicy chili peanut sauce.
Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side
Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
for the peanut sauce (sambal kacang):
sunflower oil, for frying
1 cup|150 grams unsalted, raw peanuts, preferably with their skin on (or 1 cup|150 grams unsweetened, unsalted smooth peanut butter)
4 long red chillies, deseeded and very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kecap manis, or more to taste
4 teaspoons tamarind paste (or 4 teaspoons lime juice mixed with 4 teaspoons brown sugar)
sea salt, to taste
for the gado-gado salad:
2 ounces|60 grams fried, firm or smoked tofu, cut into bite-sized chunks
sea salt, to taste
1 pound|450 grams baby potatoes, halved (about 9)
3 ¾ ounces|100 grams stalks tenderstem broccoli (about 6)
3 ½ ounces|100 grams green beans, trimmed
¼ cup|60 ml coconut oil or sunflower oil
2 ounces|60 grams tempeh, sliced into 1-centimeter-wide-by-3-centimeter long chunks (optional, or replace with more tofu)
kecap manis for grilling (optional)
1 ¾ cups|400 grams peanut sauce
1 cup|75 grams bean sprouts
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 large eggs, hard-boiled for 10 minutes and halved
1 carrot, peeled and cut into long, thin matchsticks
½ cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
2 tablespoons fried shallots, optional
kerupuk or prawn crackers, to serve
- Make the peanut sauce: If using raw peanuts, heat ½ cup + 2 tablespoons|150 ml of oil to 320°F|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 to 30 seconds). Carefully lower the peanuts into the hot oil using a slotted spoon. Stirring continuously, as peanuts can easily burn, fry for 4 to 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 1 tablespoon 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 ½ cup|125 ml) and continue to pulse and add water until the sauce is a pourable consistency. Season with salt or more kecap manis as needed. The sauce will thicken as it sits, so be sure to add more water when you need to use it to keep it pourable.
- Make the gado-gado salad: 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 to 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 to 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 high. When the oil is shimmering, add the tempeh and fry until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. 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 to 4 minutes on each side.)
- Loosen the peanut sauce with water until it reaches a pourable consistency. Transfer the peanut sauce to a pan and heat over low 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.