Despite the warped logic, my appetite rockets in summer, when the produce starts flooding the markets, tempting me into a dream of a life outdoors, eating endless feasts with gaggles of people, sipping delicious, chilled wines and cocktails. I think of holidays, of French tarts, Spanish gazpachos and other dishes I have eaten in the sunshine, where work is a distant memory and life feels giddy with promise. I had gado gado, an Indonesian dish, on one such trip: it was such a perfect thing to eat in hot weather that I have made it ever since.
Gado gado with summer vegetables
A chilli-spiked, lime-seasoned peanut sauce mellowed with coconut cream to season summer vegetables. Adjust the chilli heat to levels that make you happy.
Prep 20 min
Cook 25 min
For the gado gado sauce
125g roasted unsalted peanuts
2 banana shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1-4 red bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped
6 tbsp coconut cream
3 tbsp kecap manis (or 2½ tbsp soy sauce and ½ tbsp honey)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp palm or brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce (or soy)
Juice of 1-2 limes
For the salad
300g new potatoes, cleaned
2 bunches radishes, halved
2 big handfuls green beans
1 cucumber, cut into large wedges
2 handfuls beansprouts, washed
1 carrot, shredded
Put the potatoes in a large pan of salted water, bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, until soft. Add the eggs for the final seven and a half minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put the peanuts, shallots, garlic and chilli in a blender or food processor and pulse/blitz until the blades stop turning. Scrape down the sides and add four tablespoons of water. Pulse/blitz again until the blades stop then scrape down the sides, add the coconut cream and kecap manis, and blitz smooth. Taste, and add more chilli if you like, bearing in mind the sugar and salt will balance the flavours in the next stage of the recipe.
Put a medium pan on a medium heat and warm the oil. Once hot, add the chilli paste and cook, stirring, for two to three minutes, until fragrant. Add the sugar, fish sauce, half a teaspoon of salt, the juice of one lime and 200ml water, and stir for another few minutes until the sauce comes together. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce and/or lime juice, to add more body or freshness, and a splash more water if it’s looking a little thick (the sauce should be the consistency of pourable double cream).
When the potato and egg cooking time is up, drain and run the eggs under cold water to cool them down and stop them cooking further. Peel the eggs, cut them into quarters and arrange on a big platter with the potatoes and the rest of the salad ingredients. Drizzle over a little gado gado and serve the rest in a bowl on the side, so everyone can dip the salad in or help themselves to more.
And for the rest of the week …
The gado gado sauce is delicious with chunks of roast sweet potato and red peppers, or alongside tofu and fried rice; it’s also great with pan-fried slivers of pork tenderloin, even if that’s not remotely authentic.