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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 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. 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.

The exact composition of the Indonesian vegetable salad varies, but usually compromises 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.

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
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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).

Left: A traditional Indonesian way of making gado-gado.

In Indonesia, Gado-gado is usually served with rice or lontong (rice cake wrapped in banana leaf).

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