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Gado gado is an Indonesian salad of mixed cooked and uncooked vegetables served with a peanut sauce dressing. Gado gado means “mix mix”; a fitting name for a salad with as many ways of making and mixing it as there are families in Indonesia. Although this salad is most often made with tempeh, tofu, long beans, chayote, bitter gourd, shrimp crackers, and other hard to find ingredients, I made mine with what I had available on hand. I also replaced the soy products with pheasant, braised in a rich sauce, which adds so much amazing flavour to this dish.
Use whatever you have on hand to make yours. Feel free to replace the ingredients I listed with more traditional ones, or with things like green beans, potatoes, rice noodles, cabbage, spinach, corn, etc.
When it comes to the sauce though, I won’t be allowing so many substitutions! Make your way over to an Asian grocer, or find one online to supply yourself with the red curry paste, chili paste, and kecap manis. If the kecap manis (an Indonesian sweet soy sauce) proves to be too hard to find, substitute 2:1 good soy sauce and brown sugar.
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Gado Gado Salad with Braised PheasantCourse: Wild Recipes
- For the Pheasant
1 pheasant, or 4 pheasant breasts
2 tablespoons lard or oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chili, deseeded and minced
2 cups pheasant (or chicken) broth
2 tablespoon kecap manis (or 2 tbsp soy with 2 tsp brown sugar)
2 tablespoons lime juice
- For the Dressing
½ cup natural peanut butter
1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon kecap manis (or 1 tbsp soy with 1 tsp brown sugar)
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 teaspoon sambal oelek (or any chili paste)
- For the Salad
4 eggs (room temperature if possible)
2 big handfuls bean sprouts
½ package chow mein noodles
6 asparagus spears
1 cucumber, sliced
½ red pepper, cut into strips
½ yellow pepper, cut into strips
½ orange pepper, cut into strips
½ green pepper, cut into strips
1 chili pepper, sliced
Cilantro to garnish
- Either debone the pheasant and chop the meat into bite-sized pieces, or use a cleaver to chop the whole pheasant into bite-sized pieces, bone-in (this is commonly how poultry is served in Asia).
- Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the chopped pheasant, season with salt and pepper, and cook until well-browned. Pour off the majority of the oil. Add the ginger, garlic, and chili and cook for 1 more minute.
- Add the broth, kecap manis, and lime juice and reduce heat to low. Braise the pheasant for 15-45 minutes. Young birds or farm-raised won’t need long to braise, but an old rooster will take a while to soften up (you may need to add more broth). Use your discretion. Cook off the liquid until it becomes a sticky glaze on the pheasant. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Gently add the 4 eggs and boil for exactly 8 minutes. Immediately transfer to a bowl of cold water. Set aside for the time being. Keep the water on the boil.
- Add the bean sprouts and boil for 3 minutes. Transfer to cold water.
- Add the noodles to the water and cook as per package instructions. Rinse with cold water.
- Lastly, add the asparagus to the water. Boil for 3 minutes, then transfer to cold water.
- Mix all of the dressing ingredients except for the coconut milk together in a bowl. Spoon out the coconut cream from the can and stir it into the dressing. Slowly pour in the separated coconut water, stirring, until the dressing is a pourable consistency. Discard any leftover coconut water.
- Peel the eggs and cut them into quarters.
- Cut all of the vegetables. Cut the asparagus spears into 4 pieces each on a bias.
- Get a big plate or salad bowl and start arranging the above items artfully in clumps: the pheasant, the cucumbers, the eggs, the peppers, the asparagus, the bean sprouts, the noodles. Pour over about ¼ of the dressing, then include the dressing bowl as part of the presentation.
- Garnish with sliced chilies and cilantro leaves. Serve in the middle of the table, with serving spoons. Everyone takes what they want from the main bowl, creating custom personal salad bowls and dressing them with the extra dressing. Enjoy!