Monday, January 17, 2011

Gado Gado Salad with Peanut Sambal

I had never heard of gado gado before trying this dish. Nor had I ever tried peanut sambal. So I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this Indonesian veggie dish. Although,through my little bit of research it looks like this recipe is a fair representation. I do think the sambal could be much improved...I think next time I'll try this sambal recipe, courtesy of Merry's Kitchen of Indonisan Food.

Adapted from Main Courses 365 edited by Jenni Fleetwood. (This will be the last recipe from this book for a while...)

serves 6

The Ingredients:
The Salad
1/2 pound new potatoes, halved
2 carrots, cut into sticks
1/2 small cauliflower, broken into florets
1/4 firm white cabbage, shredded
7 oz bean or lentil sprouts
4 eggs, hard-boiled and quartered
watercress (optional)
The Sauce
6 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups cold water
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp dry sherry
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp anchovy essence (extract)

The Process
Place the potatoes in a steamer or colander and set over a pan of gently boiling water. Cover and steam for 10 minutes.

Add the rest of the veggies to the steamer and steam for a further 10 minutes, until tender. Cool and arrange on a platter with egg quarters and watercress, if using.

Beat together all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle a little sauce over each salad and serve the remaining in a small bowl on the side.

My Modifications:
Who knew it would be hard to find new potatoes this time of year! I substituted the smallest reds I could find.
As Ross does not like hard-boiled eggs, I only used one...for my portion of the salad.
I am not a fan of overcooked veggies, so to keep the bean sprouts and cabbage crisp, I did not add them with the other veggies in the steamer. Instead, I tossed them on top at the end as the other veggies cooled in the bowl, and let the residual heat gentle wilt them while I prepared the sauce.
I omitted the watercress.
I lieu of anchovy essence, which I did not have, I used fish sauce (which is often a blend of anchovy and soy sauce).
I halved the soy sauce, as the fish sauce I substituted had a far amount of sodium on its own.

The Review:
An unusual combination of veggies, that's to be sure. Gado gado purists may scoff at the addition of carrots and criticize me for not serving with salad with the traditional cracker accompaniment. But all in all, it was good, simple food. My biggest complaint is how thin the sambal turned out. I was expecting something more the consistency of the peanut sauce that accompanies satay. Were I do use this recipe again, I start by halving the amount of water, and adding a Thai chili or two. Better yet...I'd try a different version starting with a completely different recipe. And boy, are their many variations out there! But most recipes all seem to start with deep fried peanuts, chilies, salt, sugar, water and lime juice. A few get more complex with lemongrass, garlic, coconut milk, tamarind, each their own. One big perk...this salad seems like a great way to use up any veggies still laying around...

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