Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 13, 2011: Gado gado

I got stuck into more Ottolenghi on a Sunday afternoon. I've had my eye on the gado gado since the day Michael gave me Plenty but the recipe's quite involved and was destined to produce questionable leftovers.  

The satay sauce took an hour, maybe an hour and a half, to prepare but it was other-worldly in its deliciousness.  It was as if the ingredients queued up patiently to be tasted one by one as this rolled across my palate.  Fragrant galangal and lemongrass, sour tamarind, the sweetness of sugar and coconut, then the garlic, peanuts, and a final gentle chilli burn.  Just astounding.

The salad itself is a fun and filling mix.  Cabbage, beans, sprouts and cucumber get rounded out with turmeric-dyed potato chunks, boiled eggs and tofu, dressed with the peanut sauce and then showered with fresh herbs and crunchy-fried bits.  It is a hassle to blanch everything separately and in future we might pick-and-choose what to include; I'd prioritise fresh greens, par-boiled potatoes, tofu chunks and the convenient crispy-fried shallots.  For the other crispy-fried treat (Ottolenghi nominates cassava chips, croutons and wonton skins as options) I dug out the garlic chips we bought at Minh Phat last year.  They were terrific but might have been more effort than they're worth.

The leftovers were far more palatable than I'd feared (...even the cabbage!).  This dish will definitely reappear in our kitchen, though it might take a few goes to find the version that best suits us.

Gado gado
(from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi,
also available on The Guardian website)

4 cloves garlic
1 stalk lemongrass, roughly chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons sambal olek
2 small pieces galangal
4 medium shallots
1/3 cup vegetable oil
225g roasted peanuts
450mL water
2 teaspoons salt
90g sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
200mL coconut milk

1 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 large cabbage, cut into chunks
70g bean sprouts
100g green beans
1/2 medium cucumber, sliced
4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
100g tofu, sliced
garlic chips (or something else crunchy and deep-fried)
3 tablespoons coriander leaves
crispy-fried shallots

In a food processor, blend together the garlic, lemongrass, sambal olek, galangal and shallots until they make a coarse paste; add a little of the oil as you go if it needs help pastifying. In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, pour in the remaining oil and add the paste. Turn the heat down to low and cook the paste, stirring regularly, for 40-50 minutes.

Roughly crush the nuts - I did this with a mortar and pestle but you could also briefly pulse the nuts in a food processor. Transfer them to a frypan, cover them with the water, and simmer the nuts for 20-25 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated.

While the peanuts are simmering, the paste should be almost done cooking. When it's ready add the salt, sugar, paprika and tamarind concentrate. Stir everything well to combine and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the peanuts and coconut milk to the sauce and stir everything well to combine. Set the sauce aside, ensuring it's warm come serving time.

Bring a medium-large saucepan of water to the boil and add the turmeric; boil the potatoes in this water until tender. Bring more water to boil in a second pot and blanch and drain the other vegetables in turn - the cabbage should only take a minute, the sprouts half a minute, and the beans about 4 minutes.

Finally, pile everything up on plates (or a single large serving platter). Layer the blanched vegetables, cucumber, tofu and eggs; spoon over the sauce and then sprinkle over the garlic chips, coriander leaves and crispy-fried shallots.


  1. mmm love gado gado but never had it like this - I tend to throw peanut butter and a few seasonings in a pot and thin it with water or coconut milk - not sure I would have the patience with this but I love the yellow potatoes

  2. i think pastifying might just be my new favourite word, Cindy.

    this sounds incredible. reckon it would freeze?

    must say, i've been pulling out Plenty far moe often 'cos of your experiments. his food is extraordinary.

  3. (more often just sounds wrong...)

  4. I'm hearing more and more about Ottolenghi, and from the quality of the recipes that I'm seeing pop up across various blogs, I'm thinking I may need to break my new year's resolution not to buy any more cookbooks (>_<)

  5. Oh, I've been searching for the "perfect" satay sauce recipe for years. My mistake might've been looking for quick-ish recipes using peanut butter, rather than putting in the hard slog of an afternoon's work a la you...

  6. Johanna and Hannah - I can definitely understand the appeal of simpler and quicker satay recipes! And we need to work out the best of those for a typical weeknight. :-)

    Lucy, freezing is exactly what I got to thinking about as well! I'll be doing a double batch and testing that option next time.

    Ellie, you can save your pennies and shelf space to start with and check out his Guardian column! Many of the recipes from this book Plenty appear there.