This vegan gado gado salad is a variation of a traditional Indonesian gado gado salad recipe. Fresh and crunchy salad and steamed vegetables are drizzled with sweet-savoury peanut coconut lime dressing and garnished with crunchy toppings. My vegan version of this popular Indonesian dish is healthy and quick and easy to make. It's fresh, crunchy, spicy and it's packed with healthy veggies and tempeh which is high in plant-based protein. Feel free to customize this recipe with your favourite vegetables - that's the idea of this dish - just mix the delicious gado gado dressing with whatever veggies you fancy and whatever is available. This a perfect summer lunch meal and it's great for meal prep, too! This recipe comes together in just 30 minutes.
My five-week stay in Bali a few years ago was officially the holidays of my lifetime. Ubud and pretty much the whole island turned out to be a vegan paradise, full of like-minded hippie weirdoes like myself. It was so nice to feel like I really belong to that place, for a change. I can't wait to come back to Bali soon. Hopefully, I will be able to stay for a little longer than five weeks next time but until it's going to happen all I can do is reminiscence Bali in my kitchen. I love recreating my favourite Indonesian dishes I got to enjoy in Ubud countless amount of times.
One of the traditional Indonesian meals that just wouldn't leave me alone in Bali was gado gado salad. It was always the star of the menu in every vegan café or warung (a type of small local family-owned café or restaurant in Indonesia) I went to. I fell in love with that incredibly flavourful peanut lime coconut sauce and gado-gado salad ended up being that one Indonesian dish I was ordering on repeat (ok, right after bubur injin for breakfast, of course). It was very interesting to see so many different versions of that dish. Every vegan café was using different vegetables and fresh salads ingredients of choice, some of them served their gado gado salad with tofu and some with tempeh.
What is gado-gado salad?
Gado-gado is an Indonesian salad of steamed vegetables and hard-boiled eggs, boiled potato, fried tofu or tempeh, and sometimes lontong (rice wrapped in a banana leaf), served with a special sweet and savoury peanut lime coconut sauce. Gado-gado is officially one of six national dishes of Indonesia.
Gado-gado in Indonesian literally means "mix-mix" since the salad is made of a rich medley of vegetables such as potatoes, green beans, crunchy bean sprouts, corn and cabbage, with tofu, tempeh and hard-boiled eggs, all mixed in special peanut dressing, sometimes also topped with fried onions.
It's a popular Indonesian street food dish and it is widely sold in almost every part of the country, with each area having its own unique modifications. It is widely available from food carts, stalls, warungs (small local family-owned cafes) and restaurants in Indonesia.
Although it is usually called a salad, this dish is so much more than that. It is a wholesome, filling and satisfying main course meal. It is not some boring bland starter with a bit of dressing on top which in Western cafes and restaurants would be in the sides section on the menu. The peanut sauce is the highlight of gado-gado. It's definitely more than just a bit of salad dressing. The vegetables should be well coated with the sauce. Gado-gado peanut coconut lime sauce combines slightly sweet, spicy and savoury flavours. The common ingredients of the peanut sauce are usually ground fried peanuts, coconut sugar, chillies, terasi (dried shrimp paste), salt, tamarind pulp and lime juice.
As I already mentioned, the composition of vegetables in this salad varies greatly depending on what's local and available in particular season and also on chef's recipe and preferences. Usually gado-gado comprises a medley of some of the following:
- raw vegetables such as cabbage, bell peppers, lettuce, bean sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers
- boiled young jack fruit
- steamed vegetables like green bean, string bean, bitter melon, corn, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower
- sliced steamed potatoes
- peeled and sliced boiled eggs (in an original non-vegan version)
- sliced fried tofu or tempeh
It is usually served with glutinous rice cake or with steamed rice and Indonesian style fried crackers, for even more crunch. A common garnish is chopped peanuts and a sprinkle of finely-chopped fried onions.
Why you will love this Indonesian gado gado salad recipe:
Because it's a gorgeous and colourful summer meal that is light, healthy and very nourishing and filling at the same time. It's a delicious and exotic way to get your veggies in. That sweet and savoury peanut sauce makes plain vegetables irresistible. Fresh crunchy salad, filling potatoes and protein-packed tempeh smothered in the creamy and flavourful sauce are a winning combination.
This vegan gado gado salad offers an amazing variety of colours and textures and it makes a great vegan lunch or dinner meal. It's also perfect for meal prep and you can take it for work the next day!
It's a quick and easy and fuss-free meal that doesn't really require any cooking skills. Assembling this salad is so easy! All you need to is make quick and easy peanut sauce, prepare your veggies and fry some tempeh. It's that simple.
This recipe is also very versatile so feel free to customise it with your favourite veggies and with whatever is in the fridge, really. The highlight of this dish is always peanut coconut lime sauce. This recipe is perfect for using up any leftovers you have crying in the fridge, actually.
Ingredients you will need to make this easy Indonesian gado gado salad:
- coconut sugar
- steamed baby potatoes
- steamed fine green beans
- julienned carrot
- bean sprouts
- sliced cucumber
- red bell pepper
- shredded red cabbage
- finely chopped Romaine lettuce
- a packet of vegan Indonesian or (easier to find) Thai crackers
For the full ingredient list, exact measurements, complete recipe method, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom.
Peanut coconut lime sauce ingredients:
Traditionally, gado- gado peanut dressing is made from fresh peanuts, kecap manis (Indonesian soy sauce), terasi (dried shrimp paste), and tamarind pulp. I decided to really simplify the sauce recipe obviously by leaving the shrimp paste out to veganise it. I also decided to replace kecap manis with tamari for two reasons: kecap manis is not that easily accessible and because tamari is much easier to get and also lower in sodium than average soy sauce. If you guys have been using my recipes, you may have noticed that I don't really use soy sauce in my cooking. I also decided to use smooth peanut butter instead of fresh peanuts to make it quick and easy for you.
One more thing I didn't use was tamarind pulp as I was struggling to get hold of it at that time. It adds that special sweet and sour component but you can easily replace it with proper lime juice and coconut sugar ratio. It seems to me that tamarind pulp nowadays is more and more accessible and should be available in bigger supermarkets. It is worth it to have a jar of it in your kitchen cupboard as it is commonly used in so many Asian recipes.
So here are the ingredients I used in my super simple version of gado gado sauce:
- smooth peanut butter
- coconut sugar
- garlic cloves
- lime juice
- full fat coconut milk
- red chilli flakes
- ginger powder
- maple syrup
- hot water
- Himalayan salt (to taste)
It's all about toppings:
- crispy fried onions
- peanuts (finely chopped)
- chilli flakes
Vegan gado-gado salad:
Traditional gado gado salad recipe uses eggs and shrimp paste in ingredients but is easy to veganise this dish by just leaving those out.
How to make Indonesian gado gado salad:
Pretty self-explanatory. This is the easiest meal to put together.
- Prepare the peanut coconut lime sauce. Ideally, the sauce should be served warm but if you're pressed for time or can't be bothered just whisk all sauce ingredients together until smooth and serve it as it is. Traditionally, you should simmer the sauce on the hob for five-ten minutes but, hey, this sauce recipe is already simplified - we are using peanut butter instead of fresh peanuts. I'm all about quick and easy!
- Prepare the vegetables - slice or shred raw salad ingredients, steam green beans and potatoes.
- Prepare the tempeh – fry it up right before serving so it's warm and crispy.
- Assemble your meal - either serve all fresh and cooked ingredients on a salad platter with a small bowl of peanut sauce on the side or dish salad up in individuals bowls.
- Don't forget about the toppings. It's all about the toppings, always! Serve garnished with chopped peanuts, crackers, red chilli flakes and crispy fried onions.
- Don't be shy with the peanut sauce. Properly douse your serving of veggies in it!
How to serve:
Traditionally, this dish is served hot with freshly cooked veggies, freshly fried tempeh and warm peanut sauce but I can assure you that the lazy cold version is equally delicious. And I know I keep calling it a salad but gado gado is more of a super filling main course meal, really. All the veggies, potatoes loaded in healthy carbs, protein-packed tempeh and rich and flavourful peanut dressing make this dish higlhy nutritious and satisfying. As you can see, this recipe is really loaded so it's perfect and filling as it is but feel free to serve it with some brown rice if you'd like.
Variations and substitutions:
As I already mentioned, feel free to customise it with other vegetables of choice. And if you can't get hold of tempeh just replace it with more accessible tofu. However, I always enjoy my gado gado salad with tempeh for that proper Indonesian experience (tempeh is a traditional Indonesian soy product).
Veggies that haven't been smothered in the peanut sauce should keep in the fridge for up to 48 hours and the peanut sauce stored in a separate container should be ok for a week, also refrigerated.
This Indonesian gado-gado salad is:
- 100% vegan (eggless and dairy-free)
- quick and easy to make
- healthy yet very satisfying
- colourful and versatile summer meal
- fresh and crunchy
- a great build-your-own-meal
- full of different flavours and textures
- a great quick vegan lunch option
- a wholesome vegan meal
- great for meal-prep
- the perfect, satisfying veggie-packed meal
- ultra-easy to put together
- filled with authentic Indonesian flavours
- comes together in just 30 minutes
- high in fiber and plant-based protein
Other easy vegan recipes:
Vegan smashed potato chaat - a healthier version of popular aloo tikki (potato patty) chaat for Indian food lovers.
Vegan Mumbai toastie - when a grilled cheese sandwich goes to India to find itself...
Deconstructed summer roll salad - a cold noodle salad with tofu, fresh crunchy salad and peanut butter miso dressing.
Vietnamese cold vermicelli salad - with fresh salad, mint, coriander, crushed peanuts and sweet chilli dressing.
Easy roasted chickpeas - what vegans can't stop snacking on.