Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Gado-gado in Ho Chi Minh City

In culinary world, gado-gado is vegetables salad with peanut sauce. It can easily be found almost everywhere in Indonesia. 

In day-to-day world, the word of “gado-gado” is sometimes used as an adjective.
1) “How do you feel about it?” Gado-gado
2) “What have you been doing lately?” Gado-gado

Unofficial translation is below:
1) Mixed feelings
2) Lots of things to do

Left bowl: peanut sauce. Right place: cooked vegetables.

Gado-gado is a mixed of cooked vegetables and peanut sauce as dressing.  Whatever veggie we want to put in this dish, it is up to us.  Whatever side dish we want to have with it, it is also up to us.  It is normally either rice or lontong.  I prefer this second one which also rice but compressed and wrapped inside banana leaf that is then cut into small cakes.... Whenever we want to eat it, it is up to us: breakfast, brunch, lunch or late lunch.  Preferably, I do not eat it for dinner - it is as strange as if I have to eat omelette for dinner.

The common boiled veggies in gado-gado are such as spinach, morning glory, bean sprouts, pare (it is also called paria/bitter melon).  In some gado-gado, I can find boiled long beans, carrot, potato, sweet corn, egg and raw cucumber.  Non-boiled stuff can also be added such as fried tofu and/or tempe (fermented soy product).  As for condiments, krupuk/kerupuk (deep fried crackers) and fried shallots are perfect for gado-gado.

Indonesian eats kerupuk in almost every meals. Vietnamese eats kerupuk with salad.

Because the ingredients are so simple, I made my own gado-gado with the peanut sauce that I brought from Jakarta!  Voila this is the “gado-gado made in Vietnam”....!!!

Home made "gado-gado a la kadarnya" in Vietnam

There are other dishes that are similar to gado-gado, such as karedok, pecel, lotek or selada pengantin.  I like the name of the last dish ‘selada pengantin’ which blindly interpreted as ‘bridegroom salad’. LOL… There is another similar dish called ketroprak – however ketroprak does not have as much veggie as the others.  Still, all of these dishes is using peanut sauce as dressing.

There are real stories of my two Indonesian girlfriends who used to eat ‘salada pengantin’.  Years ago, we liked to go to hang out in Plaza Senayan on Saturday afternoon.  We often ate at the Sogo food court.  One of them got married and now lives in the US.  Another one got married later on and now she lives happily with two kids in Jakarta.  So ‘selada pengantin’ is proven as its name. LOL

The peanut sauce can be made easily.  The easiest one is to purchase it at the supermarket!  We can also use “bumbu pecel” (pecel seasoning) instead of “bumbu gado-gado” (gado-gado seasoning).  I could not differentiate the taste between the two.  We can choose either non-spicy or spicy sauces too.

Gado-gado & pecel seasoning

Gado-gado is easy to find in almost everywhere in Indonesia.  There are many streets in south Jakarta which are famous for its gado-gado: Kartanegara, Sriwijaya, Kartika in Pondok Indah and the one near to where I used to live is in Ciranjang. My mom used to bring an empty lunch box in her car. If she passed this street and the seller was not busy, she stopped and bought gado-gado for us.

Price varies from around Rp 10,000 (US$ 1.1) in the streets and up to Rp 80,000 (US$ 8.8) or perhaps Rp 100,000 (US$ 11) in the 5 star hotels.  There is one gado-gado in Jakarta that is very famous with its ‘cashew nut’ sauce. This sauce makes its price more expensive comparing to other gado-gado in town.

One says that the best gado-gado is at ‘gado-gado Cemara’ in Wahid Hasyim street-central Jakarta, where the first Indonesian President (President Soekarno) used to eat there often. 

Complete portion of gado-gado: veggie, peanut sauce & kerupuk

It is my coming eight month stay in Ho Chi Minh City.  How many times I made my own gado-gado?  A few times already….. How do I feel about living in this city?  How do I like it?  Gado-gado…

These links maybe useful:

List of Gado-gado restaurants in Jakarta:

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