Friday, 10 February 2017

Gado Gado

Gado-Gado was one of the first explicitly vegetarian dishes I was introduced to as a teenager back in the '70s. My vague memory is that I thought it was okay; but I never felt much need to pursue it. However, when I was wracking my brains for a crunchy winter salad the idea came back.

In fact, a well-made Gado-Gado is delicious! Sweet and sour coconutty peanut sauce over crunchy vegetables with eggs and tofu? Yes indeedy. It's possible that that first Gado-Gado I had included tempeh, which I have to admit I have loathed from my first meeting with it. It's moldy soybeans and no-one will convince me otherwise. Feel free to use it if you like it, though, as well as or instead of the tofu.

This was a bit time consuming, what with cooking everything in advance. It can be simplified; if you live in the right place you can buy both tofu and shallots pre-fried. The shallots at least won't be local in that case, but there goes three-quarters of the work right there, which is worth considering. Otherwise, without much effort, the potatoes and eggs can be plan-overs from the day before. After that, everything is fast.

I say the fish sauce and cilantro are optional, but really they are the 2 ingredients that do the most to make this taste like something exciting from tropical lands, so please do include them if you possibly can. I talk about draining the tofu in the second part of the instructions, but it should be started the very first thing.

4 servings
1 hour 15 minutes prep time

Indonesian Mixed Salad with Peanut Dressing

Make the Peanut Sauce:
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 to 3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce
2 tablespoons apple butter
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional
3 tablespoons soy sauce
a little finely grated lime zest
the juice of 1 large lime
2/3 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup coconut milk

Into fairly small bowl grate the ginger. Peel and finely mince the garlic and add it. Add the chile-garlic sauce, apple butter, apple cider vinegar, fish sauce, and soy sauce. Grate in just a little of the zest from the lime, then add the lime juice. Add the peanut butter and coconut milk. Mix everything together gently (you will need to work the peanut butter without splashing other things around) but thoroughly. Set aside until wanted. 

Prepare the Cooked Ingredients:
200 to 225 grams (1/2 pound) firm tofu
8 shallots
3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
125 grams (1/4 pound) potatoes
2 or 3 large eggs

Cut the tofu into 8 thin slices, and put them on a perforated tray or shallow strainer, and weight them to remove as much liquid as possible. Let rest for 30 minutes or so - do this just before you make the Peanut Sauce.

Peel and slice the shallots into rings. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and add the shallots. Cook, stirring regularly, for about 30 minutes until crisp and golden. If they show any signs of browning too fast, reduce the heat. Turn them out onto a plate to cool.

While the shallots cook, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the slices of drained tofu for about 30 minutes, turning them as needed. They should be lightly browned and crisp on the outside when done. Turn them onto a plate to cool. Chop them roughly. 

Wash and trim the potatoes, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Put them into a pot of water with the eggs, and boil until tender; about 15 minutes. Remove the eggs at the 10 minute mark and cool them in cold water.

Finish the Salad:
2 cups finely shredded green OR green and red mixed cabbage
2 cups bean sprouts
1 large carrot
1 or 2 small greenhouse cucumbers
1 greenhouse tomato (optional)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
1/2 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts

Wash, trim, and shred the cabbage. Rinse and drain the bean sprouts well. Peel and finely grate the carrot. Wash, trim, an slice the cucumbers. Wash, core, and chop the tomato, if using. Wash, dry and chop the cilantro. Chop the peanuts.

Toss the raw chopped vegetables together and spread them out on a platter. Arrange the cucumbers, the cold boiled potatoes, the shallots, the eggs peeled and sliced or quartered, and the tofu over them. Sprinkle with the cilantro and the peanuts. Serve with the peanut sauce.

Last year at this time I made Pink Fir Apple Potatoes Fried in Duck Fat.

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