A twist on a traditional Indonesian dish. Steamed vegetables, cubes of fried tofu, and hard-boiled egg come together with a spicy peanut sauce for dipping.
When Paul and I arrived in Bali in December, a day late and with no luggage, we were greeted at the airport by a man holding a sign with our names on it. Actually I think it just said “Mr. Paul,” but that’s neither here nor there.
The driver, who was to take us onward to a port where we’d catch a fast-speed boat to our first destination, was a friendly and well-spoken fellow with excellent English and cloudy eyes. I noticed this same cloudiness in the eyes of many of the locals throughout our trip, and although after doing a bit of research I now believe sun damage to be the likely culprit, it immediately took me back to the international nutrition classes I took during my undergrad, where we learned about the problem vitamin A deficiency and eye health.
One of the things I most remember is how deep rooted cultural norms can be one of the biggest barriers to resolving vitamin A deficiency. For example, a ripe papaya would have beta-carotene – a precursor to Vitamin A – in abundance, but so often the papaya is eaten when green, for example in a green papaya salad. Or, white sweet potatoes may be the cultural norm, whereas orange sweet potatoes are chock full of beta-carotene.
I thought of this often over the course of our trip, and especially when eating gado-gado – the dish I’m sharing with you today. It’s a simple dish of lightly boiled or steamed vegetables, some tofu, a hard-boiled egg, and a spicy peanut sauce for dipping. In Indonesia it’s usually served with shrimp crackers, which always make me think of my maternal grandmother.
This dish is easy as can be; it’s basically just a recipe for peanut sauce. The vegetables you use are up to you and can be switched up seasonally, or according to whatever you’ve got on hand. Instead of the usual plain potatoes, I’ve used orange-fleshed sweet potatoes in this gado-gado to beef up the vitamin A content, and I’ve often included steamed or roasted butternut squash as well. If you’re vegan simply leave out the hard-boiled egg and add extra tofu. If you’re looking for a more substantial dish – although this is pretty substantial already – you can serve it with a side of brown rice.
Gado-gado also packs reasonably well for lunches, although the nature of steamed vegetables is a fairly short life in the fridge due to all the moisture, so I recommend packing this for lunches on the early end of the week. If packing for lunches, don’t chop the boiled egg in advance, as it tends to dry out. I pack it with the egg whole, tucked alongside the veg with a little jar of peanut sauce, then peel and chop it right before lunch.
Two years ago: Pizza Sallad
- PEANUT SAUCE
- ½ cup smooth natural peanut butter
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp liquid aminos (I use Braggs) or light soy sauce
- ½ cup warm water (less for a thicker sauce)
- 1 head broccoli, broken into florets and steamed
- ½ medium cauliflower, broken into florets steamed
- 1 medium sweet potato, sliced into rounds and steamed
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped and steamed
- 1 250g pkg tofu, cubed and lightly pan fried
- 4 hardboiled eggs
- TO MAKE THE PEANUT SAUCE
- In a medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, rice vinegar, and liquid aminos. Stream in the warm water a bit at a time, and whisk until well combined.
- FOR GADO-GADO
- Arrange steamed vegetables, quartered hard-boiled eggs, and fried tofu on a large platter. Serve with peanut sauce in small pots for dipping.
-To pack for lunches don't chop the hard boiled eggs as they can dry out