As I was given an impromptu lesson in how to make the popular Indonesian dish gado gado (vegetables and peanut sauce), whilst looking for something to eat one night, it seems only right to pass the recipe on to the culinary inclined among you. There are numerous variations of the dish around the country’s many islands so I am not giving you a precise recipe as such. It can be altered to suit your tastes or what you have in the way of left over veg to some extent but these instructions will give you something typical of East Kalimantan.
There are two ingredients which are peculiar to Indonesia, for which you may have to improvise, depending on what your local oriental food shops are like:
Petis Sauce This is a bit like Kecap Manis but is made from fermented shrimp paste, which is sweetened, preferably with palm sugar. Make your own by adding 1 tsp of sugar to 2 tbsp of shrimp paste and add 100ml water. Bear in mind that you can alter this to suit your tastes by adding Kecap Manis for example.
Ketupat Traditionally, this rice dumpling is made by packing rice into woven plam leaf pouches, which compress the rice as it expands on cooking, if you are feeling particularly adventurous and want to weave your own pouches just follow these instructions, though I will have to leave you to figure out finding palm leaves or an equivalent. Thankfully you can adapt boil in the bag rice to achieve the same result thanks to this video. I have seen people make it by nearly filling sausage-shaped plastic bags with rice, tying a knot to seal it and cooking in boiling water, needless to say make sure you find heat proof bags and use the video as a guide.
Other ingredients you will need are:-
Birds eye chili
Peanuts fried with garlic
Bean sprouts – preferably a smaller variety, briefly steamed or fried
Cucumber – cut into thin strips
Tofu chunks fried in oil
Fried egg (seemingly virtually every Indonesian dish has this as an option)
Although on the street the ketupat, bean sprouts and tofu will have inevitably gone cool, having been sitting around for ages you will no doubt prefer to time it so everything goes in hot. Other versions include stir fried cabbage, pak choi, spinach or the like.
To make the peanut sauce, first crush a clove of garlic and 1 birds eye chili per person using a mortar and pestle, use more if you like it spicy but it isn’t meant to be a ring burning scorcher of a dish. Add 4 heaped tbsp of peanuts per person, crush and add 2 tbsp of petis sauce per person. Add just enough water to make it into a pouring consistency. If you are a sauce fan by all means make a bigger quantity.
Put a handful of ketupat chunks (1cm cubes approx) onto a plate, add a slightly smaller quantity of tofu pieces, throw on a handful of bean sprouts and about 1 tbsp of cucumber, pour over the sauce and sprinkle with prawn crackers. Add fried egg should you so desire. Et voila!