Home > Gado Gado (Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce Dressing)

Gado Gado (Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce Dressing)

Posting Date: 07/31/16

Gado Gado (Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce Dressing)

Gado Gado (Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce Dressing) can be found in the menu of every Indonesian restaurants outside Indonesia. That shows how popular this dish in Indonesia. The other popular ones are Nasi Goreng, Bakmi Goreng, and Beef Rendang. So, what is Gado-Gado? It is a dish composed of blanched vegetables, cooked sliced potato, slices of hard boiled egg, fried tofu, and fried tempeh with peanut sauce dressing (called bumbu Gado-Gado in Indonesia) and topped with shrimp chips or crackers and fried shallots or onions. It sounds like salad. However, if you look at the ingredients, this dish is very filling and can be considered as a full meal. That's what it is normally considered in Indonesia although in Indonesian restaurants outside Indonesia, it is normally listed under salad in the menu. In Indonesia, it can be served with lontong (compressed rice) or rice on a side. The reason the dish is very filling is because one of the vegetables used in the ingredients is boiled potato. As you know, potato is a carbohydrate source. You also get protein from the egg, tofu, and tempeh. You also get fiber from the blanched or cooked vegetables. Typical vegetables used in Indonesia are spinach, long beans, chayote, cabbage, bean sprouts, slices of cucumber, and Romaine lettuce. I sometimes see people use bitter melon. I in fact use bitter melon from time to time if I can find it in the Asian stores because I like the bitterness taste from it. After listing the ingredients, you can now understand why it is filling and considered as a full meal in Indonesia. I always think it is a healthy dish because you get all your body needs in 1 dish. It is also good for vegetarians. However, some people may use terasi (shrimp paste) as 1 of the ingredients in the peanut sauce dressing. Most people don't use it but just confirm the peanut sauce dressing ingredients if you are a vegetarian and ordering it from a restaurant. As for the peanut dressing, it consists of ground peanuts, tamarind juice, lime juice, palm sugar, garlic, and chili peppers. Some people may use coconut milk, too. However, I don't use it in the recipe. To make the peanut sauce dressing, it is traditionally made on a pestle. When I was growing up, some restaurants made the dressing to order, i.e. you could tell them if you wanted it hot, medium, or mild. However, I think nowadays, they make it ahead of time and just need to mix the vegetables with the already made dressing before serving it. You can in fact buy a ready made Gado-Gado dressing nowadays in grocery stores in Indonesia and Asian stores in US. It is sold in a jar, a box, or a rectangle shape wrapped in plastic. In Asian stores in US, you can normally find it in where they sell Indonesian items. The ready made dressing tastes good and saves you time and thus, feel free to skip my peanut dressing sauce recipe and use the ready made one if you can find it. I, myself, normally just buy the ready made one and prepare the other ingredients. Once the other ingredients are ready, you just need to follow the instructions for the dressing to make it. Once the dressing is ready, mix all ingredients with the dressing and you get yourself a meal. To make the dressing, you normally just mix water with some of the ready made gado-gado sauce. I normally buy the one in a box or wrapped in plastic and they are dry solid like a brick. So, that's why you need to use water to make it liquid. I normally use boiling water because it makes it easier to soften it. The amount of the water used determines the consistency of the sauce since some people may like it thick and some may like it thin. I have never used the one from a jar, so if you happen to buy it, please follow the instructions. Click here to see a picture of the ready made bumbu gado-gado that is sold in plastic wrap package.

If you look at the picture, you will notice that I didn't mix the dressing with the other ingredients. I just drizzled it on top. This is not a typical way to serve Gado-Gado. I only did it this way for picture purpose so that you can clearly see the other ingredients in the picture.

One thing that I noticed about my peanut sauce dressing recipe is it seems it gets better the next day. So, you can prepare the dressing a day ahead if you prefer.

Some people may not like tofu because it tastes bland to them. This is because tofu needs to be prepared prior to cooking it. Tofu you just get from the store has liquid in it and thus, if you cook it without getting rid of it, it will not absorb the flavor of the seasoning you put on it. To prepare the tofu, please see the note below.

Some people may not like tempeh and thus, I put tempeh as optional in the ingredients. If you want to use it and have never bought it before, you can find it in the fridge section of organic items in your regular grocery stores. If you are not familiar with it, tempeh originated from Indonesia and is made of fermented soy bean. It is a source of protein and thus, it is eaten by vegetarians to replace meat. Like tofu, you can fry, stir fry, bake, or grill it. Indonesians normally fry and stir fry it. You can marinate it to give more flavors and process it by grilling or baking it.

This recipe serves for 4 people.


  • 1 12 oz firm tofu. Please see methods or note below to find out how to prepare tofu.
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, sliced lengthwise
  • Optional: 1 tempeh, sliced into bite size
  • Vegetable oil to fry tofu, tempeh
  • Ice cubes to make ice water bath
  • 1.5 cups of sliced long beans that is cut into 2" length
  • 1 chayote, peeled and diced into cubes
  • 2 cups sliced cabbage
  • 1 medium size potato, peeled and diced into cubes
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
  • 4 Romaine lettuce leaves, sliced
  • For peanut sauce dressing: 1/2 teaspoon tamarind dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • For peanut sauce dressing: 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • For peanut sauce dressing: 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • For peanut sauce dressing: 1 tablespoon sambal oelek or to taste. I use Huy Fong brand for sambal oelek since they don't add shrimp paste or garlic to it and thus, I got the chili pepper I need without any other flavors I don't want.
  • For peanut sauce dressing: 1.5 cups water
  • For peanut sauce dressing: 1 piece of palm sugar or to taste. The palm sugar I bought comes with several round pieces of solid palm sugar. So, I use 1. You can use less or more depending on your preference. If you want to use less, slice it with a knife and use it according to the amount you want.
  • For peanut sauce dressing: 3/4 cup peanut butter. Use smooth peanut butter type since we want the dressing to be smooth.
  • For peanut sauce dressing: 1.5 limes, juced. You can use more limes or less lime depending on your preference.
  • For peanut sauce dressing: 1 teaspoon onion powder or to taste
  • For peanut sauce dressing: 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Optional: shrimp chips. Omit it if you are vegetarian.
  • Optional: fried onions


  1. Prepare tofu by draining, rinsing, and patting it dry with paper towel. After that, place it on top of strainer and place a container on top of the tofu. Leave it for 15 min or so. The weight of the container on top of the tofu will further drain more liquid off from the tofu. You can leave it longer than 15 min if you have more time and more liquid will be drawn out of it. After that, pat the tofu dry with paper towel and dice it into cubes.
  2. Turn on the stove and heat vegetable oil on a frying pan. Add tofu to the pan to fry it. Do not move or flip it until the bottom side has become light golden brown. Once the bottom is light golden brown, flip it to cook the top side. Cook until it becomes golden brown. Once done, using slotted spoon, take the tofu out of the pan and put it on the plate lined with paper towel. If you use tempeh, do the same thing to it, i.e. fry until the bottom is golden brown, flip it to the other side to cook until golden brown, and drain the tofu on a plate lined with paper towel.
  3. Boil some water in a pot. While waiting for the water to start boiling, prepare ice water bath by filling up two third of a big bowl with ice cubes and water. When the water is boiling, add long beans and cook them to your preferred doneness. I prefer mine slightly crispy but most people like them completely cooked. Once they are done, drain the water and put the long beans in the ice water bath for about 2 min. This will stop the cooking process and maintain the color of it. Take the long beans out the ice water and let it drain on colander to remove excess water.
  4. Do step 3 above for the chayote and cabbage. For chayote, I prefer it to be fully cooked since crunchy chayote feels raw to me. If you prefer the cabbage raw, you can skip cooking it. However, traditionally the cabbage is cooked. I prefer the cabbage tender crisp. So, I only put it in boiling water for about 1 min or even less.
  5. Cook potato in water until it is fully cooked. Once cook, drain it.
  6. Set all vegetables aside while we are making peanut sauce dressing.
  7. Reserve tamarind juice while discarding the tamarind.
  8. Heat up vegetable oil on a pot. Saute the garlic and sambal oelek until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add 1.5 cups water, tamarind juice, and palm sugar. Let the palm sugar dissolve in water before adding peanut butter, lime juice, onion powder, and salt. Stir the pot to make sure the dressing is smooth. Taste it and add more salt, lime juice if needed.
  9. Once the dressing has become smooth, remove from the heat and let it cool.
  10. To serve it, divide all vegetables (including cucumber, Romaine lettuce, and bean sprouts), tofu/tempeh, and slices of hard boiled eggs equally into 4 plates. Divide peanut sauce dressing into 4 portions and pour each portion into each plate. Mix the dressing with the vegetables. Top it with shrimp chips and fried onions if used.


  • Prepare tofu by draining, rinsing, and patting it dry with paper towel. After that, place it on top of strainer and place a container on top of the tofu. Leave it for 15 min or so. The weight of the container on top of the tofu will further drain more liquid off from the tofu. You can leave it longer than 15 min if you have more time and more liquid will be drawn out of it. After that, pat the tofu dry with paper towel and dice it into cubes.
  • Nowadays you can buy ready made peanut sauce dressing (bumbu gado-gado) in Asian grocery stores. So, if you want to save time, feel free to use it and skip the peanut sauce dressing recipe above. Please confirm the ingredients shown in the package doesn't contain shrimp paste if you are a vegetarian.

All images, materials, and recipes on Indonesiancooking101.com are protected by copyright. Please do not use or republish the recipes, materials, or images without prior written permission from Indonesian Cooking 101. If you want to share this recipe, please share the link rather than the whole recipe.

Follow Us: twitter button twitter button instagram button