Gado-Gado: Aunthentic Indonesian Food

Gado-Gado: Traditional Indonesian Food
by Ronald Darmawan

Gado-Gado (complete set) Gado-Gado, a traditional Indonesian food eaten by the natives during the early Dutch colonialism (1600s), is a kind of salad served with peanut sauce dressing. During colonialism, Gado-Gado was the common food to eat among the poor because it was cheap and easy to find the ingredients yet very healthy.

Gado-Gado is rich in essential nutrients like carbohydrate, protein, fats, vitamina and also fiber. Carbohydrate mainly comes from compressed rice, Lontong or Ketupat, and this is the main source of energy for the body. Both Lontong and Ketupat taste essentially the same and only differentiated by the shape, Lontong is in cylindrical shape while Ketupat is in their shapes. Some people choose not to include any Lontong or Ketupat or sometimes just use plain steamed white rice. The protein in Gado-Gado mainly comes from the egg, tofu and tempeh (a sesame-based food). This dish has important nutrients needed by the body to build up, repair, and replace the tissues in our bodies. The protein source is considered to be healthier because it comes from plant and not from animal.

Gado-Gado contains very little fats and almost no cholesterol at all. The very little amount of fats comes mostly from the peanut sauce. The rest of the ingredients to make Gado-Gado are vegetables, which are rich sources of vitamin and fibers. Fiber helps the body with bowel function, and helps prevent heart disease. Most vegetables in Gado-Gado are green in color and are a rich source of folate, a B vitamin, which is important in producing healthy red-blood cells and preventing a certain type of anemia, and is also needed to reduce risks for spina bifida, a serious birth defect. Most Gado-Gado contains bitter melon which some think helps prevent malaria.

Gado-Gado is usually served with Kerupuk (a kind of cracker) made from flour. There are some variations of Gado-Gado across the Indonesian archipelago. In some parts of Sumatra and Central Java, Gado-Gado is usually served with chicken curry or broth along with the peanut dressing. Some Gado-Gado sellers in East Java substitute the bitter melon with potato and add young jackfruit. Eating Gado-Gado will help a person fulfill the requirement of the ‘3 serving of vegetable and 2 serving of Fruits”. The ingredients of Gado-Gado are cheap to buy and easy to find especially in Southeast Asian countries. It is healthy, it is cheap and easy to make.

Recipe to make Gado-Gado (Jakarta and West Java style):Form top left, clockwise: Long Bean, Bitter Melon, Corn, Cucumber, Water Spinach, Chayote, Bean Sprout, Tempeh, Plam Sugar, Chili


4 strings of Chinese Long Bean (Vigna Sesquipedalis)
1 Bitter Melon (Momordica Charantia)
1 Corn (sweet)
1 Cucumber
1 Water Spinach/ Water-Morning Glory (Ipomoea Aquatica)
1 Chayote (Sechium Edule)
50 g Bean Sprout
1 Fried Tempeh
1 Fried Tofu
1 Boiled Egg

50 g Peanuts
1 Block of Palm Sugar
1/2 clove of Garlic
1 tb of Salt
Chili and Lime as desired


1. Wash and Cut the vegetables
2. Boil the vegetables in warm water 50'C - 70'C max for 2-3 minutes
3. Remove the vegetables from water

For Peanut Dressing

1. Fry the peanuts until red-brown in color
2. Mix the fried peanuts, garlic, palm sugar, salt and crush them with mortar&pestle or blender for smoother dressing
3. Add some lime juice for the aroma and chili as desired to the mixture
4. Add some water to the mixture so it looks like pasta dressing

- Pour the peanut dressing to the vegetables, stir it until the dressing fully mingle with the vegetable and finally add the slices of boiled egg
- Add Kerupuk as desired.
- Add Lontong or Ketupat
It is ready to serve (for 2 servings).

Lontong (compressed boiled rice)Gado-Gado (ready to be served)

See Wikipedia for more information about the vegetable
Photos of Gado-Gado: Courtesy of my Father

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