When we talk about vegetable salad with peanut sauce in our family, we often think of Gado Gado. But there are more Indonesian vegetable salads like: lotek, pecel, karedok and ketoprak. They may look similar but each is slightly different, depending on region or ethnic community. These salads can have cooked and uncooked ingredients, such as string beans, cucumber, cabbage, beansprouts, deep fried tempeh and firm tofu, drenched with creamy, sweet, sour and spicy peanut dressing, and topped with crunchy chips, creating a delicious medley of textures.
Take Gado Gado for instance; which literally means ‘mix-mix,’ a delicious dish, nutritious and fairly quick to prepare. This originally Indonesian dish enjoys worldwide fame as a meal and is served by street vendors, eateries as well as restaurants and hotels within and outside Indonesia. In Asia, nearly every country has its own version.
Depending on the dish most versions contain a combination of the following nutritious ingredients: carbohydrates provided by the lontong (compressed rice cakes), and potatoes. The tofu, tempeh and eggs provide the protein and finally a variety of vegetables. Gado Gado is suitable for example for pesco-vegetarians (who eat fish and seafood) as the peanut sauce contains shrimp paste. Also suitable for ovo-vegetarians (eat eggs or dairy).
Below an overview of main features and differences;
1) Gado Gado, from Jakarta. Blanched or cooked vegetables, mixed well with the peanut butter. The sauce contains palm sugar as a sweetener and can be prepared with coconut milk. Garnish with shrimp crackers. Served with rice and lontong. In terms of serving; in East Java they first put the vegetables on a plate and top it off with the peanut sauce. In West Java the peanuts and spices are crushed in a mortar and then the vegetables are added and mixed with the sauce.
2) Lotek: Sundanese/west Java. The vegetables are blanched (cooked but still crisp). The sauce is spicy and can be fortified with boiled potatoes and more garlic.
3) Pecel / Petjil; from central/East Java. Spicy (pedis) of taste. Tofu and tempeh without egg. Is often served with rice or lontong. Can be used with fish, chicken, beef. Sauce contains kentjur. Garnish with prawn crackers and fried onions.
4) Karedok: from west Java / Sundanese. Raw vegetables and tofu (related to the tempeh), topped with peanut sauce made with palm sugar as a sweetener and added kentjur. Garnished with shrimp crackers and / or emping.
5) Ketoprak (see picture above) from Jakarta (Betawi), street eateries, well known in Java. Named after a music style, as it resembles the sound of ingredients being chopped. The vegetable mix contains lontong, tofu, ebi, cabbage, rice noodles and bean sprouts. The sauce is made from ground peanuts, palm sugar, soy sauce and garlic. Garnished with shrimp crackers and some soy sauce drizzled over it.
Check out the following chart to highlight the main differences. Recipes differ from community and personal family cooking styles.