Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Clashing Flavours - Gado Gado (A Mixture of Cooked and Raw Vegetable Salad)

After my last Rojak post, I was immediately reminded of an altogether very different salad that we have back in Singapore - Gado Gado. Now this salad requires more effort so I can proudly say that I may have gotten my mojo back.  No more easy lazy cooking, not that there was anything wrong with simple supper.

The name literally translated into 'clash' and what an aptly named dish this is. Like Rojak, the components consist of many varieties of vegetable but rather unusually, you get an eclectic mix of cooked and raw vegetables. The potatoes are boiled and cubed; the beancurd are deep fried to yield a crispy sponge-like texture and even boiled eggs are included amongst this fantastic salad. All these are then dressed with the piquant peanut sauce....mmm....spicy and delicious. Then to top it all off, you must have some Keropok/ Prawn crackers at hand for that crouton equivalent crunchiness. This also proved to be an amazing vessels for scooping up all those leftover nutty sauce.

The most laborious part of this salad is perhaps prepping the different components. But the good news is that these can all be done in advance. Just keep everything int a airtight container and keep in the fridge and when you are ready to serve, throw everything onto a serving dish and drizzled with the dressing. A good cheat for the prawn crackers is that you can actually use a shop bought version straight out of a packet which will make life so much easier. If like me, you are frying you own, just follow the instructions on the packet. To be honest, it literally takes seconds and any leftover will be a great munchies for a chill out evening with a few pint of chilled beers.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

250g firm tofu, fried until golden brown and cut into 2cm cubes
1 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
3 hard boiled free range eggs, cut into wedges
150g french beans, trimmed and cut into 3cm lengths, blanch in boiling water for 3-4 minutes and leave to cooled
150g kangkong/water spinach or morning glory, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds and leave cooled
1 small yam bean / bangkwang / Jicama, peeled and cut into rough 2cm chunks
1/2 cucumber, halve lengthwise and cut into rough 2cm chunks
1 small handful of bean sprouts, lightly blanched in hot water and cooled in cold water, drained
8-10 keropok/prawns crackers

For the dressing:
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp Belacan / dried shrimp paste, toasted in a dry pan or hot oven
4 fresh red chillies, more if you like it spicy
500ml coconut milk
200g roasted peanut, skinned and finely chopped (do this in a food processor)
1 tbsp tamarind pureé
2 tbsp Gula Melaka / palm sugar
sea salt, to taste


If making your own prawn crackers , heat up some vegetable oil to 170ºC and in small batches, lower the raw prawn crackers into the hot oil and watch them puff up in a matter of seconds, Removed immediately and drain in some kitchen paper.

In a mortar and pestle, pound the toasted belacan and chilies to a soft paste. Heat up the oil  in a pan over a medium heat and fry the paste for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the coconut milk, tamarind, palm sugar and slowly bring to the boil. Season with salt to taste. Remove and leave to cool.

To assemble the dish, place the different vegetables together on a serving dish and spoon over the dressing. Garnish with the prawn crackers and serve immediately.

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