gado gado

Last week, Amanda posted a photo of their supper spread — gado gado it was called: a variety of steamed vegetables over rice and topped with a peanut sauce — and it looked so utterly fantastic that that very afternoon I swung by the grocery store for the sole purpose of acquiring the proper ingredients: purple cabbage, cucumbers, cauliflower, and cilantro.

The meal was simple to make — pop rice in the cooker, make a sauce, and prep and steam the veggies — our supper plates that night were spectacularly colorful, the meal so wonderfully light. After all the winter fare, it was just the thing.

And the rest of the family liked it well enough, but…

“It’d be better with chicken,” my older son said.

Grilled chicken,” my husband said.

So when we ate it again for lunch the next day, this time it came with a piece of grilled chicken on top.

And they were right — it was better.

Gado Gado
Adapted from Extending The Table.

Gado gado is basically just a salad, but with the veggies steamed instead of raw. I prepped all the vegetables at once and then steamed them, one vegetable after the other, only taking about two minutes for each batch — when done, they should be still a bit crunchy. Once steamed, the veggies can sit at room temp for a couple hours, or store in the fridge until ready to use.

I though the peanut sauce a little flat, flavor-wise, and have since done a little research and determined that one tablespoon of fish sauce may do the the trick.

steamed vegetables: 
Cauliflower, broken into florets
Carrots, sliced into matchsticks
Purple cabbage, chopped fine
Zucchini, halved lengthwise and then sliced into moons
Other options: green beans, green cabbage, broccoli, sweet potato, etc.

raw vegetables: 
Radishes, thinly sliced
Cucumbers, chopped
Cilantro, rough chop
Bean sprouts

other components:
Brown rice
Boiled eggs
Grilled chicken, optional (and probably not authentic)
Peanuts, chopped, for garnish
Peanut sauce (recipe follows)

Peanut Sauce
3 tablespoons peanut oil
½ onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1 heaping cup peanut butter
½ teaspoon (or more!) red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
3½ cups coconut milk or water (or a combination of the two)
1 lemon (or lime), zest and juice
1 teaspoon each soy sauce and brown sugar
Plenty of salt (start with 1 teaspoon)

Saute the onion and garlic in the peanut oil until tender and translucent. Add the fresh ginger and cook for another minute. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.

To serve:
Put rice on the place and then pile on the vegetables. Add the boiled egg and chicken, top with lots of peanut sauce (treat it like a gravy), and sprinkle with nuts.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (4.11.16), right nowwhen popcorn won’t pop, Mr. Tiny, an evening walk, mint wedding cake.


  • JAG

    I've thought of it as being served over noodles, maybe from a version in the Moosewood cookbook? I think I might have to work this into the rotation at our house. Maybe with tofu instead of chicken. Although tofu might be too much like egg white for them to pair successfully.

  • Becky

    I've heard of Gado Gado before, but never really knew what it was. This seems like it would be a great fit at my house – thank you for enlightening me!

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