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|Place of origin||Indonesia|
|Region or state||Jakarta|
|Associated national cuisine||Indonesia|
|Serving temperature||Room temperature|
|Main ingredients||Various vegetables in peanut sauce topped with krupuk|
|Variations||Karedok, a raw vegetable version of Gado-gado|
|This article is part of the series on|
Gado-gado (Indonesian or Betawi) is an Indonesian salad of raw, slightly boiled, blanched or steamed vegetables and hard-boiled eggs, boiled potato, fried tofu and tempeh, and lontong (rice wrapped in a banana leaf), served with a peanut sauce dressing.
The term gado or the verb menggado means to consume something without rice. Gado-gado in Indonesian literally means "mix-mix" since it is made of a rich mixture of vegetables such as potatoes, longbeans, bean sprouts, spinach, chayote, bitter gourd, corn and cabbage, with tofu, tempeh and hard-boiled eggs, all mixed in peanut sauce dressing, sometimes also topped with krupuk and sprinkles of fried shallots. Gado-gado is different from lotek atah or karedok which uses raw vegetables. Another similar dish is the Javanese pecel.
Gado-gado is widely sold in almost every part of Indonesia, with each area having its own modifications. It is thought to have originally been a Sundanese dish, as it is most prevalent in Western parts of Java (which includes Jakarta, Banten, and West Java provinces). The Javanese have their own slightly similar version of a vegetables-in-peanut-sauce dish called pecel which is more prevalent in Central and East Java. Gado-gado is widely available from hawkers' carts, stalls (warung) and restaurants and hotels in Indonesia; it is also served in Indonesian-style restaurants worldwide. Though it is customarily called a salad, the peanut sauce is a larger component of gado-gado than is usual for the dressings in Western-style salads; the vegetables should be well coated with it.
Some eating establishments use different mixtures of peanut sauce, such as adding cashew nuts for taste. In Jakarta, some eating establishments boast gado-gado as their signature dish, some of which have been in business for decades and have developed faithful clientele. For example, Gado-Gado Boplo restaurant chain has been around since 1970, while Gado-Gado Bonbin in Cikini has been around since 1960.
The sauce is made of fried crushed savory peanuts, sweet palm sugar, garlic, chilies, salt, tamarind and a squeeze of lime. Gado-gado is generally freshly made, sometimes in front of the customers to suit their preferred degree of spiciness, which corresponds to the amount of chili pepper included. However, particularly in the West, gado-gado sauce is often prepared ahead of time and in bulk. Gado-gado sauce is also available in dried form, which simply needs to be rehydrated by adding hot water.
Gado-gado sauce is not to be confused with satay sauce, which is also a peanut sauce.
The history of this Indonesian culinary dish does not have a fixed historical background. Rather, there are several different theories and beliefs as to how gado-gado became an Indonesian culinary dish. The different theories and beliefs are written below:
Indonesian word "digado"
Gado-gado comes from the Indonesian word “digado”. However, the word “digado” does not exist in the Indonesian dictionary. The word “digado” originates from a specific Indonesian culture, Betawi. In the Betawi language, the word means “to not be eaten with rice”, which is why rice is not included as one of the key ingredients of gado-gado. Rather, a substitute of rice is used, which is known as lontong, otherwise known as Indonesian rice cake.
Another theory is that gado-gado originated from the Tugu village. In the early 1700s, when the Europeans arrived in Indonesia, a number of Portuguese people started a village currently known as the Tugu village. It is said that these Portuguese people brought their local cuisine to Indonesia. Through the introduction of the Portuguese culture, the dish gado-gado was first introduced to Indonesia.
There are also some who claim that gado-gado originated from the Chinese people living in Betawi. Some claim that the Chinese people really enjoyed the Javanese pecel, which is an Indonesian salad, and wanted to modify the dish to better accommodate their taste. As a result, the dish gado-gado was created.
Unlike gado-gado sederhana, gado-gado Padang adds yellow noodles and sohun, which are cellophane noodles, to the gado-gado dish. This variation of gado-gado originated from Padang in Java. It is also known to have a spicy flavor. This variation follows other common dishes in Padang, which are known for having a spicy flavor.
A translation of “gado-gado sederhana” is “simple gado-gado”. This variation is the basic way of preparing a gado-gado dish, which is made using vegetables, bean sprouts, lontong and peanut sauce as key ingredients.
This variation of gado-gado cooks the peanut sauce and spreads it over the dish. Some claim that cooking the peanut sauce makes the dish last longer. It uses lettuce and tomatoes as some of the ingredients of the dish. It also uses coconut milk in the peanut sauce, which is used to make the sauce look oilier and more tasteful.
Most of flavours in gado-gado are acquired from the mixture of its bumbu kacang or peanut salad dressing. Gado-gado combines slightly sweet, spicy and savory tastes. The common primary ingredients of the peanut sauce are as follows:
- ground fried peanuts (kidney beans may be substituted for a richer taste)
- coconut sugar/palm sugar (substitute brown sugar if unavailable)
- chillies (according to preference and desired degree of spiciness)
- terasi (dried shrimp paste)
- tamarind juice
- lime juice
- water to dilute
The traditional method of making gado-gado is to use the cobek (pestle) and ulekan or flat rounded stone. The dry ingredients are ground first, then the tamarind liquids are added to achieve the desired consistency.
The composition of the vegetable salad varies greatly, but usually comprises a mixture of some of the following:
- blanched - shredded, chopped, or sliced green vegetables such as cabbage, kangkung, spinach, bean sprouts, boiled young jack fruit, chayote, string bean, green bean, bitter melon, and corn.
- sliced - boiled potatoes
- uncooked - sliced cucumber
- peeled and sliced boiled eggs
- sliced - fried tofu and tempeh
Outside Indonesia, it is usual to improvise with whatever vegetables are available. All the ingredients are blanched or lightly boiled, including vegetables, potatoes and bean sprouts, except for the tempeh and tofu, which are fried, and cucumber which is sliced and served fresh. The blanched vegetables and other ingredients are mixed well with the dressing.
Garnishes and rice
In Indonesia gado-gado is commonly served mixed with chopped lontong or ketupat (glutinous rice cake), or with steamed rice served separately. It is nearly always served with krupuk, e.g. tapioca crackers or emping, Indonesian style fried crackers, which are made from melinjo. A common garnish is bawang goreng, a sprinkle of finely-chopped fried shallot.
There are three common ways of serving the gado-gado dish in Indonesia. Firstly, gado-gado is sometimes prepared at home as a traditional Indonesian dish. It is relatively easy to prepare and cook, which is part of the reason why gado-gado can be commonly found in Indonesian households. Secondly, some street vendors and warungs in Indonesia are known to sell gado-gado. However, different cities may serve different variations of gado-gado depending on the region. Thirdly, gado-gado can also be found in restaurants that serve Indonesian cuisine. Amongst many Indonesian restaurants, gado-gado is a relatively common dish, because it is popular in Indonesia.
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