My favorite meal in Indonesia and a staple in the Netherlands, gado-gado is a healthy and delicious recipe. Adapted from recipes in both Cooking the Indonesian Way: Culturally Authentic Foods Including Low-Fat and Vegetarian Recipes by Kari A. Cornell and Merry Anwar (Lerner Publications Company 2004) and Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health by Nina Simonds (Borzoi Book, Knopf 2005).
Makes 6 servings
1 cup red potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
1 cup fresh green beans, ends trimmed
2 cups green cabbage, chopped
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 cup carrots (1 to 1 1/2 carrots), peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup cucumber (about 1 medium cucumber), sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 hardboiled eggs, peeled*
Deep fried shallots for garnish**
1 1/2 Thai chilies, ends trimmed, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried chili flakes***
4 shallots, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup light unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce***
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons tamarind pulp, dissolved in 1/2 cup water, or 3 tablespoons lemon juice with 1/2 cup water***
For The Salad
Fill saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, carefully add potatoes to the water. Cook about 20 minutes or until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork. Then use the slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes to a colander. Rinse under cold water. When cool enough to handle, slice the potatoes into bite-size quarters or cubes.
Fill a second saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Use a slotted spoon to lower the green beans into the water and cook for about 3 minutes. Use the slotted spoon to move the blanched beans to a colander. Rinse under cold water.
One vegetable at a time, repeat this procedure to blanch the cabbage, bean sprouts and carrots. Arrange the green beans, cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, potatoes and cucumbers however you like on a large platter and set aside.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook tofu cubes for about 10 minutes, or until crisp and lightly browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Scatter tofu cubes over the salad.
Cut hardboiled eggs into quarters and arrange along the edge of the platter. Serve gado-gado with fried shallots and peanut sauce.
For The Peanut Sauce
Use a food processor fitted with a steel blade, or a blender; drop the chilies, shallots and garlic in while the machine is running and chop fine. Add the remaining ingredients one at a time, pulsing after each addition. Pour the dressing into a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for a minute to let the flavors marry. Pour the warm dressing into a serving container and serve on the side. Once cool, the dressing will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for several weeks.
*To make hardboiled eggs, fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Use a slotted spoon to lower eggs into the water one at a time. Boil eggs for 10 minutes, then use slotted spoon to retrieve them from water. Transfer eggs to a clean plate. Allow them to completely cool before removing shells.
**To make deep-fried shallots, cut 1 shallot into thin slices and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat 1/2 cup canola oil into a skillet and fry the shallots 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently. When the shallots brown slightly, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
*** Available in Asian aisle at supermarket or specialty Asian food stores.