Gado-gado Jakarta recipe

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Gado-gado - Indonesian gado-gado

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Gado-gado Jakarta is a perfect example of unity in diversity. It has different vegetables and food items put-together with a spicy-delicious peanut sauce that makes the whole thing extraordinary. Because every element complements each other and creates a uniquely tasty salad. 

It is so simple, yet it is so good that now gado-gado has become popular in many parts of the world, and seen varieties of recipe tweaks. 

Gado-gado Jakarta with overlay texts

What is gado-gado?

The word gado-gado means a mix of so many things. And I was also told that this name derives from the word “gado” which means to snack. 

So gado-gado can also mean something to snack. Although in reality, it’s a dish that you can have as a proper meal for lunch or dinner, besides simply-being a snack.

It is originally from Jakarta. Traditionally, it is made with blanched Kangkung (water spinach), kacang Panjang (yardlong beans), carrots, cabbage and bean sprouts, fresh raw lettuce, cucumber, boiled eggs and potatoes. And it’s topped up with spicy peanut sauce as its dressing and garnished with kerupuk (prawn crackers).

Often lontong or ketupat is added to the salad, so it becomes a meal in its own right. 

Gado-gado was one of the street foods that I used to enjoy a lot. Maybe because I love vegetables and I love peanuts. So the way gado-gado mix the peanut sauce over a bunch of vegetables is too tempting for me. I can’t recall if I ever said no to gado-gado whenever I was offered this Indonesian salad.

The way you enjoy Gado-gado

You can enjoy gado-gado on its own as a salad. But originally the Indonesians have gado-gado with carbs like plain rice or hard-boiled rice called ketupat or lontong.

In Indonesia, rice is the main staple in a big way. People have everything with rice. They enjoy any dishes with rice. They even have noodles with rice. Like double carbs, if you like.

When you serve gado-gado as a salad, the following is the traditional menu option that Indonesians would have. And this menu often not only does appear in family gatherings but also on special occasions such as weddings and events.

Recommended menu to serve with

It can be made vegan too

Apart from a little tiny shrimp paste that you mix in the peanut sauce, gado-gado is pretty much a vegan-friendly dish. As every ingredient it uses is plant-based stuff.

So if you’re a vegetarian/ vegan,  you can still enjoy gado-gado. All you do is just skip the shrimp paste, or use the vegan version of this ingredient. 

What you need to make 

Ingredients to make gado-gado

The recipe I’m sharing here is pretty original. And it is based on Gado-gado sold by native Jakartan (Betawi people) and the food gawker in Jakarta. I try to based on the real street food recipe.

Hence, the ingredients are pretty simple and easy staples for most people. 

When it comes to vegetable choice, you can choose any that you like. As a reference, the traditional gado-gado uses the following ingredients:

  • Kangkung (water spinach), you can replace with regular spinach.
  • White cabbage.
  • Bean sprouts.
  • Yardlong beans, you can substitute it with green beans.
  • Carrots.
  • Potatoes.
  • Tempeh, and/or
  • Tofu.
  • Boiled eggs.
  • Peanut sauce dressing. That is made of fried peanuts, chillies, garlic, tamarind, palm sugar, boiled potato, Terasi (dried shrimp paste), salt and water. 
  • Kerupuk, (onion or prawn crackers).

Although there are places (such as restaurants) that do gado-gado with improvised peanut sauce mixed with peanut butter and coconut milk. The idea is to enhance the creaminess of the sauce and add extra flavour. 

But in this recipe, I’m sharing the street food style Gado-gado. It uses whole peanuts and fewer spices, just like what I get when I buy this yummy salad mix from the native Jakartan.

As for the vegetables, you can change and add some items that you love. I recommend trying radish, sweetcorn kernels, and other varieties of salad leaves such as kos lettuce, romaine, endive, watercress, arugula (wild rocket), baby spinach, etc.

Note that I put boiled potato to make the peanut sauce. That’s what the traditional recipe uses to help make the sauce creamier, smoother and thicker. But you can exchange this boiled potato with peanut butter if you prefer. I do that sometimes.

How to make Gado-gado 

If you use the vegetables like the traditional gado-gado mentioned above, you will have to have them blanched first. 

Lightly boil the veggies for a few minutes, drain and set aside.

Boil the eggs and potatoes. Set aside.

Wash and rinse the lettuce, cut and set aside.

Lightly fry the tofu until lightly golden.

peanut sauce in a blender
peanut sauce in a pan with peanut butter and sambal goreng
cooking peanut sauce in a pan
a plate of gado-gado Jakarta

Next, make the peanut sauce by using a blender or food processor. Place all the sauce ingredients in the blender/ food processor, i.e. peanuts, peanut butter or boiled potato (if using), chillies, garlic, tamarind paste, salt, Terasi (dried-shrimp paste), sugar, lime juice and water. 

Blend/ process it until all become a smooth and creamy sauce. The consistency should be like heavy cream (double cream).

Try and taste the sauce and add the flavour ingredients if needed, such as salt, sugar, and chillies. Your sauce should taste salty, spicy, sweet, with a slight hint of tanginess. You can adjust it according to your taste. Especially when it comes to the chillies. 

Lastly, you assemble the gado-gado by arranging all the vegetables, tofu and egg in your plate. Then drizzle the sauce over and enjoy it with crispy prawn crackers or onion crackers.

Top tips for making Gado-gado

  • Sambal Terasi adds a flavour punch in the peanut sauce. You can make it your own sambal as I explain in this sambal goreng Terasi recipe. If you don’t have this sambal, you can replace it by adding more chillies and Terasi (dried shrimp paste) twice as much as the recipe calls. Or, you can add it as you go along trying the sauce. And adjust it according to your taste.
  • Make sure you don’t boil the vegetables for too long. You don’t want mushy and soggy vegetables. It’s a no-no. Best is when they still have a bit of crunchiness as you bite. 
  • Please get the Indonesian sweet soy sauce as the flavour and taste suits better. I tried non-Indonesian soy sauce in the past. Unfortunately, its taste didn’t suit my Indonesian food recipes. 
  • You can make your tamarind paste. The quickest way is by soaking some dried-tamarind block in hot boiling water until it gets softened. 
  • If you have time, I’d recommend you fry the raw peanuts for the sauce. Because the flavour is so much better. But, ready-made roasted salted peanuts like the one you get from the shop will do the job just fine. The difference is that the latter is on the drier side and not as creamy as the fried-peanuts. Therefore a spoon or two of peanut butter can help. 

Related posts

Thank you for reading this Gado Gado Jakarta recipe. I hope you’re now tempted to try it. And it will be awesome if you share what you think about the recipe, in the comment below (leave a reply box).

And please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest to sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen.

Before you go, don’t forget to check my other street food recipes/ Jajan Pasar that you may love.

Thank you and all the best.

Yield: 6

Gado-gado Jakarta

Gado-gado Jakarta with prawn crackers

Unlike other gado-gado recipes, this simple and easy to make recipe uses real peanuts. With hard-to-resist flavour, this gado-gado will soon be your go-to salad when you fancy a bit of nutty sauce with it.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • For the peanut sauce:
  • 200 gr Roasted peanuts (Or fried peanuts. See the note).
  • 4 tbsp Peanut butter (optional).
  • 3 tbsp Palm sugar (Or dark muscovado sugar and dark brown sugar).
  • 3 tsp Tamarind paste (see the note).
  • ½ tsp Salt.
  • 2 tbsp Sambal Terasi/ Sambal Oelek (see the note).
  • 2 fresh bird’s eye red chillies (see the note).
  • ¼ tsp Dry shrimp paste (or 1 tsp of fish sauce) - optional.
  • 2 cups water.
  • 2 tbsp Lime juice.
  • 3 tbsp Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce).
  • The vegetables and more:
  • 125 gr Spinach (fresh or frozen).
  • 150 gr Bean sprouts.
  • 1 Lettuce.
  • ½ Small cabbage.
  • 100 gr Green beans.
  • 1 large Carrot.
  • ½ Cucumber.
  • 200 gr Extra-firm tofu.
  • 4 eggs.
  • For garnish:
  • Prawn crackers.
  • Fried onions (optional).
  • Kecap Manis/ sweet soy sauce.

Instructions

For the sauce:

  1. Using pestle and mortar, grind the peanuts with chilli, tamarind paste, sugar, salt, and shrimp paste (if using) until the nuts become as smooth as possible. 
  2. Add in lime juice, and water little by little as you mix it. 
  3. Add more water if the sauce is too thick. But do it little by little as you don’t want the sauce to become runny.
  4. You can use the blender or food processor if you wish. Just put everything together and give it a blitz until you get a nice thick peanut sauce with a slightly runny consistency. Your sauce should be as thick as heavy cream (double cream).

For the vegetables:

  1. Have the spinach blanched with hot boiling water for a minute or two, drain and set aside. 
  2. Soak the bean sprouts in hot boiling water for a minute or two, drain and set aside.
  3. Cut the lettuce in thick slices.
  4. Slice the cabbage thinly and boil for about 2-3 minutes until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  5. Cut the green beans into 1-inch lengths, and parboil them. Set aside.
  6. Cut the carrot in julienne sticks and boil them for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  7. Boil the eggs, let them cool and slice. Set aside.
  8. Cut potatoes in big cubes and boil until thoroughly cooked. Set aside. 
  9. Cube the tofu and shallow-fry until slightly-light golden.
  10. Slice the cucumber.
  11. Arrange the vegetables on a plate however you like, then pour the peanut sauce generously over the veggies, and sprinkle some fried onions on the top if you use.
  12. Enjoy your gado-gado with prawn crackers.

Notes

  • You can fry raw peanuts instead. When you do, make sure you keep stirring as you’re frying the nuts so that they will be evenly cooked.
  • If you only have tamarind block in your pantry, you can make your own tamarind paste. Soak a 1-inch tamarind block in hot boiling water. Let it soften and sieve it to get its juice. 
  • You can make your own Sambal Terasi as I explain in this Sambal Goreng Terasi recipe. If you don’t want to use this, you can put the chillies and Terasi (dried-shrimp paste) twice as much as the recipe calls. Or, you can just adjust as you try and taste the sauce.

Nutrition Information

Yield

6

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 470Total Fat 28gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 20gCholesterol 125mgSodium 1195mgCarbohydrates 39gFiber 7gSugar 23gProtein 22g

The nutrition calculation you find here is just a guide provided by online nutrition calculator. You should not use to substitute advice from nutritionists or health practitioners.

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10 Comments

  1. Ali - We Made This Life says:

    Wow I haven’t heard of a dish like this before but I think my husband would love it! Saving it to make for him later 🙂

  2. Wow!! I’ve never heard of gado gado but you have me yearning to go to Indonesia. It seems like a super simple dish to make I can’t wait to try it.

    1. Perhaps you can go to Indonesia by trying their food first? Gado-Gado is surely one you should try 😉

  3. Sara Welch says:

    I love all the flavors and textures in this salad; easily a new favorite recipe! Loved the peanut sauce too!

  4. This looks so delicious and yummy! I can’t wait to give this a try! My family is going to love this recipe!

  5. Daniel Perkins says:

    I will try out this one in the coming days. Hope to give you a nice update about the experience.

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