Antler and Find Podcast: Pheasant Gado Gado Salad and the History of the Pheasant

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 flavor 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 to an Asian grocer, or find one online to supply yourself with 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.

Read the written version of this recipe as prepared by Adam Berkelmans


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About Pheasant History:

The common pheasant, or ring-necked pheasant as it is known in North America, may just be the king of all game birds. It’s even the State bird of South Dakota. But did you know they’re not native to North America?

Pheasants are actually native to Southeastern Europe and Asia, with a historic range from the Caucasis in modern-day Georgia, down through China, up into Siberia, and all of the way to Korea. 

In ancient times, they were brought over (or moved over naturally) to northern Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans, where the bird’s very last truly wild population exists. 

Western Europeans first encountered it while trading in modern-day Georgia. This can be seen in the Latin name for the bird, which is Phasianus colchicus. The Roman name for Georgia at the time was Colchis. 

The Romans were thought to have helped spread the bird around Europe, introducing it to wherever they conquered. It was probably the Romans who first introduced pheasants into modern-day Great Britain during their occupation of the region 2000 years ago. 

By 1059, the bird had basically become naturalized in Britain, but its population eventually dwindled down to very few by the 1700s. 

Gamekeepers began importing and introducing birds again in the 1800s to build up populations after a renewed interest in hunting them. 

The first birds to appear with the Romans were Caucasian varietals, but these newer birds being brought in were Chinese varietals and had the classic white band around the neck.

Over 30 million pheasants are released yearly on hunting estates across Great Britain. Those that don’t get harvested tend to die off within the year, fending for themselves in the wild. 

Pheasants were introduced into North America in the late 1700s but didn’t really develop a footing until the 1800s. Although both the Caucasian (aka The Old English) and the Chinese varietals were introduced, only the Chinese ring-necked pheasants were strong enough to survive the harsh climate here. 

There were multiple efforts at introduction in the States and at different times. The pheasants introduced from British game farms seemed to do the best and were the original breeding stock for most modern birds. 

About Adam Berkelmans:

Adam Berkelmans, also known as The Intrepid Eater, is a passionate ambassador for real food and a proponent of nose-to-tail eating. He spends his time between Ottawa and a cozy lake house north of Kingston, Ontario. When not cooking, he can be found hunting, fishing, foraging, gardening, reading, traveling, and discovering new ways to find and eat food.

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