Gado Gado (Indonesian Salad with Peanut Dressing)

published Mar 26, 2024
Gado Gado Recipe (Indonesian Salad with Peanut Dressing)

The star of this hearty, easy-to-make Indonesian salad is the garlicky peanut sauce.

Serves4 to 6

Prep30 minutes

Cook30 minutes

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overhead shot of fully constructed gado gado in a large white bowl, with a side of peanut dressing.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

For those unfamiliar with Indonesian cuisine, gado gado, which translates as “mix mix,” is a fantastic introduction to the dynamic flavors of Indonesian cooking. The salad features different blanched vegetables like bean sprouts, spinach, and chayote, plus tofu and tempeh for heft. It’s served alongside a savory, spicy peanut sauce, sprinkles of fried shallots, and crispy shrimp chips. Typically, gado gado is eaten for breakfast or lunch as a stand-alone meal. 

I first tasted this humble dish thanks to my dear friend, Umi Syam, who was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. She introduced the dish as one of her comfort foods and kindly walked me through the different flavor notes that made gado gado so distinct. In Asian cuisine, there are so many types of peanut sauce, but she explained that gado gado’s peanut sauce is heavily garlicky with a punch of spices from peppers. As one of her favorite street foods, she taught me how to make it at home.

After some trial and error, we tasted the final version together, and I immediately fell in love. It was so flavorful, and each bite was exciting because of all the different textures. Whether you eat it for lunch or breakfast, it’ll be a delicious first look at the flavors of Indonesian cuisine in your home. 

Why You’ll Love It

  • The garlicky, spicy peanut sauce is so flavorful — you’ll want to put it on everything!
  • Gado gado is a great way to experience the flavors of Indonesia in your home. Plus, it’s a delicious, exciting way to enjoy a variety of different vegetables.

Key Ingredients in Gado Gado

  • Roasted unsalted peanuts: Using roasted peanuts makes the sauce extra flavorful.
  • Kecap manis: This sweet soy sauce is one of the essential seasonings in Indonesian cuisine. It has a dark color with a syrupy consistency and tastes similar to molasses.
  • Fish sauce: Traditionally, gado gado sauce is made with dried shrimp paste, but since this recipe calls for such a small amount, fish sauce is a great substitute to mimic its umami, salty flavors, according to Umi. If you happen to have dried shrimp paste, you can use it in its place. 
  • Thai or small bird’s eye chiles: The key difference in Indonesian peanut sauce, compared with other peanut sauce, is the level of heat. It should taste spicy but not overwhelmingly, and the flavors of chiles should be pronounced.
  • Vegetables: Typically, spinach, bean sprouts, and green beans are included, but you can use any vegetables you have to make gado gado.
  • Tempeh: This traditional Indonesian food is made from fermented soybeans. It has a hard exterior, but when it’s fried in oil, it forms a nice crispy crust with a savory, funky taste.  
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

How to Make Gado Gado

  1. Make the peanut sauce. Make the savory peanut sauce by grinding the ingredients in a food processor
  2. Blanch the vegetables. Blanch the vegetables, such as spinach, bean sprouts, and green beans, and cook the eggs.
  3. Fry the tofu and tempeh. Cut the tofu and tempeh into bite-size pieces and fry until they form a nice crispy crust. 
  4. Assemble the salad. Assemble the blanched vegetables, fried tofu, and fried tempeh in a large platter (or a bowl) and add a generous amount of peanut sauce. Garnish with fried shallots and fried shrimp chips. 

Helpful Swaps

  • Swap bunched spinach with any type of leafy greens, like yu choy or bok choy.
  • Swap tempeh with extra-firm tofu.
  • Swap Thai bird’s eye chilies with serrano peppers or any spicy red peppers.
  • You can also add cooked baby Yukon potatoes to make the salad even more hearty. 

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

  • You can make the peanut sauce in advance and keep it for up to 5 days in the fridge. 
  • You can blanch the vegetables in advance, then assemble the salad with the peanut sauce when ready to serve.
  • If the premade peanut sauce seems too hard, loosen it by mixing it with warm water. 

Gado Gado Recipe (Indonesian Salad with Peanut Dressing)

The star of this hearty, easy-to-make Indonesian salad is the garlicky peanut sauce.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


For the sauce:

  • 2

    fresh Thai or small bird’s eye chilies

  • 3 cloves


  • 8 ounces

    roasted unsalted peanuts (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons

    kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)

  • 1 tablespoon

    packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    fish sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    rice vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup

    water, plus more as needed

For the vegetables:

  • 4

    large eggs

  • 1/4

    medium green cabbage (about 10 ounces)

  • 4 ounces

    green beans

  • 1

    medium chayote (about 8 ounces)

  • 8 ounces

    bean sprouts (about 4 cups)

  • 1 pound

    bunched spinach (not baby)

  • 8 ounces

    drained firm tofu

  • 8 ounces


  • 2 tablespoons

    neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola, divided

  • 2

    medium roma tomatoes

  • 3

    Persian cucumbers

  • 1

    medium lime

  • Fried shrimp chips (cooked according to package directions if needed), for serving

  • Fried shallots, for garnish


Make the sauce:

  1. Trim the stems from 2 fresh Thai or small bird’s eye chilies. Roughly cut the chilies in half. Place the chilies and 3 peeled garlic cloves in the food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until garlic cloves and peppers are coarsely chopped and combined, about 8 (1-second) pulses.

  2. Add 8 ounces roasted unsalted peanuts and pulse until ground, about 25 (1-second) pulses. Add 2 tablespoons kecap manis, 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse until combined, about 15 (1-second) pulses.

  3. Measure out 3/4 cup water. Add about half to the food processor and pulse until combined, about 15 (1-second) pulses. While pulsing, pour in the remaining water and continue pulsing until combined and pourable but not too thin. Pulse in more water 1 tablespoon at a time to thin out if too thick. You should have about 2 cups.

Make the vegetables:

  1. Place 4 large eggs in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to fill the saucepan about three-quarters full. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Cover and let the eggs sit for 10 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, make an ice water bath by filling a medium bowl halfway full with ice and cold water. Core and slice 1/4 medium green cabbage into 1/2-inch wide shreds (about 5 cups). Trim the stem ends from 4 ounces green beans. Cut 1 medium chayote into 1/2-inch chunks (no need to peel). Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

  3. When the eggs are ready, use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to the ice water bath.

  4. Return the water in the saucepan to a boil. Blanch the vegetables one at a time in the boiling water in the following order, transferring each one with a slotted spoon to the baking sheet when cooked and returning the water to a boil in between each:

    • Cook the cabbage until tender, about 2 minutes.
    • Cook the green beans until crisp tender and bright green, 1 to 2 minutes.
    • Cook 8 ounces of bean sprouts until tender, about 1 minutes.
    • Cook the chayote until fork tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
    • Cook 1 pound spinach until tender and wilted and tender, about 2 minutes.
  5. Cut 8 ounces tempeh into 1-inch-long triangles that are about 1/4-inch thick. Cut 8 ounces firm tofu into 1-inch cubes.

  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of the neutral oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the tempeh and cook until golden brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

  7. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of neutral oil to the pan. Add the tofu and cook until golden brown and crisp on at least 2 sides, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to the plate with the tempeh.

  8. Cut 2 medium roma tomatoes into 8 wedges each. Cut 3 Persian cucumbers crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Cut 1 medium lime into wedges. Remove the eggs from the ice water bath, peel, and halve lengthwise.

  9. Arrange all the vegetables, eggs, tempeh, and tofu on a platter or wide shallow bowl. Drizzle with about 1/4 cup of the sauce. Garnish with fried shallots. Serve with the lime wedges, fried shrimp chips, and the remaining sauce.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The vegetables and sauce can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in separate airtight containers. Cook the tofu and tempeh when ready to serve.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.