Return from the Emerald – at least we’ve still got the gado gado

Welcome back! Did you have a nice summer? Did you enjoy the holidays? I sure did, and because I don’t want to go back to the harsh and rainy realities of real life, I’m going to pretend I’m still in Indonesia and post some interesting recipes I gathered there!

So seeing that my previous attempts at Indonesian were cute, but not quite as informed as desirable, I decided I had to up my game while I was there. I studied everything I ate, asked unsuspecting cooks for their secret recipes, and took a 1-day cooking class for good measure.

The cooking class was great, although there was one slight disappointing factor: at this particular cooking school, they always put two people together to work at one cooking station. I didn’t like this. They don’t call me the Dictatress for nothing – it’s a reference to my inability (or possibly just unwillingness) to tolerate people in my immediate surroundings, touching ingredients and utensils, when I’m cooking.

Imagine my silent outrage when I realised I was getting teamed up with a German who had brought his kids along. He told me his wife was doing a yoga course on the beach or some free spirit activity like that, and it was his turn to drag the offspring along whilst his better half discovered her inner upward dog. Seeing that we were both alone, we’d just have to share. I was worried about the outcome of the next 2.5 hours.

Ah well, it actually turned out alright, and I learned how to make a bunch of stuff. (On top of that, I learned how to share, even when you really don’t want to.) One of the things I learned to prepare properly was gado gado! Remember how I had a shot at that a while ago? Well there I was, making actual Indonesian gado gado under the supervision of an actual Indonesian chef. The idea was largely the same as the one I made, but the execution was different. The sauce was a lot nicer and the vegetables a lot more Indonesian. I realise gado gado is already on the blog, but I figured it’d be interesting to put the new and improved version up here as well, so you can compare them. Up to you which one you prefer making!


For just one or two people, use:

For the sauce:

  • a good couple of fistfuls of peanuts
  • a small chili
  • a small chunk of palm sugar – if you can’t get palm sugar, use 1 tsp of brown sugar
  • a clove of garlic
  • a couple of tablespoons of the famous kecap manis or sweet soy sauce
  • some water


For the rest:

  • a handful of green beans
  • a few inches of carrot, more or less julienned
  • some water spinach, which you should be able to buy at your local Chinese shop
  • some cucumber
  • the cooking class recipe said tofu, but I’m not a massive fan, so I’m going to substitute white cabbage here – it’ll help add mass to the salad and it’s got a nice crunch


First, make the sauce. Fry the peanuts in some oil until they’re nice and brown. Grab yourself a mortar if you have one, and grind the sugar up with the garlic until you obtain a nice paste. Add in the peanuts and keep grinding until they’re pretty fine. If you don’t have a mortar, just chuck everything in a blender. Then add the kecap manis, a little bit of hot water and a pinch of salt. Mix well. I insist on adding a little bit of lemon or lime juice, although the course recipe doesn’t specify that you should.


Now for the vegetables. Cut everything in appropriate bits: julienne the carrots, slice the cucumber, cut inches out of the water spinach and green beans, and shred the cabbage.

Boil the vegetables – green beans and cabbage longest (about 4 minutes), then the water spinach and the carrots (about 2 mins). Don’t boil the cucumber!

Finally, chuck everything on a plate together and top it with the peanut sauce. So tasty!


About La dittatrice

After years of being based in Glasgow, I've recently made a home for myself in Turin, Italy, for the time being, at least. This blog is my captain's log. Here I note down what I did, and what I ate. A story, then a recipe. That's how this here works. Updates on Wednesdays.
This entry was posted in asian, cooking, Food, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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