A Summer Indonesian Dish So Good They Named It Twice

I remember flipping through cookbooks as a kid, reading how Marguerite Patten made lasagna. Later, I would have opened several books while I came across different recipes for the same dish.

We get sold versions of traditional recipes, they are modified and manipulated according to the availability of ingredients, trends and sometimes even the preferences and style of writers or chefs. Of course, there’s really no substitute for going to Italy and tasting the real deal, seeing handmade pasta and smelling beef stew simmered for hours.

I pored over several recipes looking for this week’s Indonesian dish, Gado Gado. It’s part of the process and that’s what I like the most. I’ve read about who uses cabbage, who cooks it, who leaves it raw; get to know a dish thoroughly. I love how extremely helpful social media apps are in this regard.

Simply searching the hashtag #GadoGado on Instagram and Tiktok, I’m instantly transported to a Californian raw food vegan restaurant doing their version of the dish, and stalls on the bustling streets of Jakarta, where women deftly mow whole pods of corn and thinly slice the cucumber with the flick of your wrist and a huge carving knife, over a huge pot of simmering peanut sauce.

I also get to see the cooking of a German couple as they try to recreate the dish from their honeymoon. Another girl films as her grandmother shares her family recipe. All this is priceless to me. It is extremely beneficial and infinitely informative.

I see the sauce should be quite thick and textured, just like the reviewers wrote of Jamie Oliver’s 2018 version of the dish. Some vegetables are cooked and not all raw. These little details are what make a recipe what it is, and what makes a culture cherish and value it. It’s their comfort food, their grandmothers’ cooking, their home cooking.

I had tried this Indonesian dish years ago and wanted to make it to kick off salad season, but didn’t have the recipe. So now, with multiple reference points ranging from books to videos, I’m sharing this wonderful recipe I picked after tweaking until the sauce tasted the way I remembered it.

It might seem like a bit of work to put it all together, but the end result is delicious and you can make it as easy as you want. You can use leftover potatoes with green beans and tofu or eggs for protein with this delicious sauce. A real taste of summer.

Recipe: Gado Gado