Gado Gado

Gado Gado

Gado Gado

Travelling in far-flung places has brought so much joy to my life. I am completely in my element when surrounded by the fresh sights and sounds of previously unvisited corners of the world. And as you may have guessed by the name of my blog, experiencing the foods of new places ranks very high on my joy meter! Sometimes when I travel, the flavours and fragrances of what I have tasted, never leave me, and such is the case with Indonesia. A number of years ago, my good friend Louise and I spent a whole summer tripping around this delicious country. Very often air-born molecules of tingly spices would lead us into tiny Mom and Pop eateries. Perched on miniature wooden stools we would slurp up unctuous noodles or gobble down mind-blowing Nasi Goreng. Now, being conscious of the health of our gastrointestinal tract, we always tried to abide by the cardinal rule of travellers: “Never eat uncooked vegetables!” Well, after our first plate of Gado Gado, we decided that this was a rule that was meant to be broken. Needless to say we blissfully consumed plate after plate of Gado Gado all across Inodnesia, and when I came home I tried endless recipes in an effort to re-create it. For those of you unfamiliar with Gado Gado, it is simply a large plate of cooked and uncooked vegetables and tofu, served with the richest, creamiest of peanut sauces. The flavour of the peanut sauce will vary from chef to chef, but it always has the ability to transport me into a rapturous state. The recipe for this peanut sauce comes closest to what I ate in Indonesia. I found it in “Pacific Palate: Cuisines of the Sun” by Alaina De Havilland. It also makes a perfect sauce for peanut satay. You can serve this recipe as a meal in itself or as part of a summer BBQ buffet, or hey, go wild and eat it for breakfast!! I do!

I am bringing a huge platter of Gado Gado over to Fiesta Friday today! You have to admire Angie @ The Novice Gardener and all of her amazing co-hosts for keeping this virtual blog party running for the last 33 weeks!  Angie and co-hosts, you are all awesome!!


Gado Gado



2 tablespoons tamarind paste

¼ cup hot water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

juice of one lime

grated zest of ½ lime

2 tablespoons chopped lemon grass

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 can coconut milk

2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup chunky peanut butter


Cucumber slices

Hard boiled eggs

Steamed green beans

Steamed spinach

Shredded cabbage

Boiled baby potatoes

Bean sprouts

Firm tofu

Vegetable oil



Put the tamarind paste and hot water in a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and sauté the onions for 5 – 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, lime juice, zest, lemon grass, and curry and cook for 2 – 3 minutes until incorporated and fragrant. Add the coconut milk and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tamarind and water mixture, sugar and peanut butter and bring to a boil. Stir until incorporated. Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth.

At this point, check for the consistency. It should be runny enough to pour over the vegetables. Add more water as you need, to get this consistency. Once it is refrigerated, it will need to be watered down to get it to this state again.

This recipe also makes a wonderful satay sauce for chicken satay.


Slice the tofu into ½ inch slices. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the tofu slices and fry until they are a toasty golden colour. Remove them to paper towels and drain. Slice them into strips.

Slice the hard boiled eggs into slices.

Cut the boiled baby potatoes into quarters.

On a large platter, arrange the vegetables, eggs, and tofu in an attractive manner. Place the sauce in a serving dish.

To eat, simply place some of the salad items on a plate and drizzle with the peanut sauce.

Memories of Indonesia come flooding back to me with just one taste!

Memories of Indonesia come flooding back to me with just one taste!

49 Responses to “Gado Gado”

  1. Margot @ Gather and Graze

    This is such a fabulous dish Julianna! I’ve only ever had Gado Gado once before, when my sister-in-law took the time to prepare it for us – so healthy and delicious at the same time! Thanks so much for sharing – can’t wait to taste that sauce! 🙂

    • chefjulianna

      Haha, Mimi! It’s a long flight, but so totally worth it! It’s a fascinating country and a culinary wonderland! You would just love it!

  2. Ngan R.

    Julianna, this looks delicious, healthy, and perfect for the transition from summer to fall. Loving all those beautiful ingredients in your bowl! My husband has been to Indonesia and mentions Gado Gado often, and now I’ll know how to surprise him with it someday. 🙂

    • chefjulianna

      Oh what a sweetie you are, Ngan to want to surprise him! I think that most people who have been to Indonesia, can’t get this dish out of their minds! Hope you get a chance to make it!

  3. Nancy

    This looks fabulous, Julianna. I’ve never had Gado Gado before, but based on the delicious ingredients, I think it’s time!

  4. Loretta

    This is great Juliana – I don’t believe I’ve even heard of Gado Gado. I love it that you can learn so much on Fiesta Friday, thanks for that history lesson, together with your amazing dish. Isn’t travel just so wonderful?

    • chefjulianna

      Hey Judi! I agree with you: I learn so much from blogging. It is so cool because we get to share so many ideas and info! I just love it! 😀

  5. petra08

    A lovely salad and oh that peanut sauce! I read the recipe 3 times trying to imagine the flavors together, it just sounds so rich and delicious! I am getting so hungry and I a sure there has to be some peanut sauce this week, with noodles or a salad! I might have to go to bed soon and dream about this lovely recipe! 🙂

  6. HostessAtHeart

    I’ve never been to Indonesia or had Gado Gado, but I just love the fresh ingredients and the way that you have it presented. This would make a great appetizer!

  7. Liz

    What a lovely and filling salad. This is a whole meal on it’s own, and healthy too. Thanks for sharing!


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