After my first trip to Bali, gado gado swiftly rose to the top of my favorite salads list. With a combination of fresh and blanched veggies, heaps of herbs, perfectly crispy tofu, lots of chili, fresh lime juice, and luscious peanut sauce, what’s not to love?
Since my first visit in 2015, I’ve traveled to Indonesia five different times, taken a few Indonesian cooking classes, and learned a thing or two about how to make a delicious gado gado at home. And, of course, how to make it vegan (which is very easy to do).
Vegan gado gado is usually on our menu at home once or twice a month. And that’s because it’s very easy to make and we always have the ingredients on hand. Plus, it’s super healthy and totally delicious!
So if you want to know how to make your very own vegan gado gado, come with me. I’ll show you how.Jump to Recipe
What is Gado Gado?
The ingredients and methods for making gado gado vary, depending on who’s making it, what’s in season, and which region of Indonesia you’re in.
For those who are unfamiliar with Indonesian cuisine, gado gado is typically a salad comprised of blanched (or boiled, or steamed) vegetables, fresh vegetables and herbs, sometimes potatoes, fried tofu or tempeh, hard-boiled eggs, and peanut sauce for the dressing. Prawn crackers almost always come on the side.
Gado gado literally translates to “mix mix,” because it’s a culmination of all kinds of veggies and flavor components.
Ingredients for Vegan Gado Gado
My version of gado gado is pretty authentic; however, to make it vegan, I omit and substitute certain ingredients.
To make this salad, you will need the following ingredients:
- Cabbage (purple or green are fine, but if available, napa cabbage is best)
- Green beans
- Tomatoes (cherry tomatoes or de-seeded roma are fine, but if available, heirloom are best)
- Bean sprouts
- Mint (optional)
- Roasted peanuts
Optional garnishes to mix and match:
- Lime wedges
- Fresh chili slices
- Dried chili flakes
- Fried shallots
- Rice crackers
- Extra roasted peanuts
Ingredients for the Peanut Sauce/Dressing
To make the peanut sauce for your gado gado, you will need:
- Peanut butter (smooth or chunky, up to you)
- Soy sauce (or tamari for GF)
- Rice wine vinegar
- Lime juice
- Agave (or coconut sugar)
- Sambal oelek
- Kefir lime leaves
- Hot water
This combination leaves you with a perfectly balanced peanut sauce, that’s equally parts salty, sweet, spicy, and tangy. The kefir lime leaves and lemongrass give the sauce a deep citrusy flavor, while the sambal oelek, garlic, and ginger give it a kick of spice. You’re going to want to put it on everything, not just gado gado!
Hot tip: Make lots of this sauce and keep it in your freezer for a rainy day. You can use it as the dipping sauce for rice paper rolls, you can throw it atop some rice noodles and make a bit of a spicy peanut noodle salad, or just stick to gado gado. Whatever!
Another hot tip: I always keep a giant stash of kefir lime leaves and lemongrass in my freezer for whenever a peanut sauce craving strikes. I recommend you do the same.
The Method: How to Make Vegan Gado Gado
Making this salad is super easy. The process just includes a few different steps, which I’ll outline here. You can find all of the specifics in the recipe below!
- First, wrap up the tofu in a clean kitchen cloth, and put something heavy on top of it (like a cast-iron pan) to press out any extra moisture. This helps ensure the tofu does not stick to the pan!
- Then, chop up all of your vegetables. Refer to the images or ingredients list for specific chopping sizes for each veggie.
- Blanch the cabbage, spinach, and green beans. (The cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, bean sprouts, cilantro, and mint all stay fresh.)
- Next, fry off the tofu in a bit of oil, until all sides are lightly browned and crispy.
- Lastly, to make the peanut sauce, mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.
- All that’s left to do is put the vegetables and tofu into a large bowl, toss through the desired amount of dressing, serve, and garnish with your favorite accompaniments, such as peanuts, lime wedges, fresh chili, chili flakes, rice crackers, and fried shallots!
And there you have it: Vegan Gado Gado!
I really hope you love this recipe as much as I do.
This salad is so light and healthy. It’s full of veggie and herb goodness, and topped with the ultimately rich peanut sauce. You can dress it up with whatever garnishes you like, such as roasted peanuts, extra lime wedges, chili flakes, fried shallots – and maybe even some sriracha – if you want an extra kick. (I do.)
Once you’ve made it, let me know what you think in the comments below. Enjoy!
How to Make Vegan Gado Gado Salad
Craving Indonesian cuisine? This vegan gado gado recipe is a combination of fresh and blanched veggies, heaps of herbs, perfectly crispy tofu, chili, fresh lime juice, and luscious peanut sauce. Super healthy, quick, and easy to make.
- 2 cups cabbage shredded
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 cup green beans cut into 2-cm pieces
- 2 carrots grated
- 1 heirloom tomato sliced, halved
- 1 cucumber sliced
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/2 cup mint (optional)
- 2/3 cup roasted peanuts
- 1 packet firm tofu sliced, moisture pressed out
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
Peanut Sauce Ingredients
- 2/3 cup peanut butter
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 4 kefir lime leaves minced
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 1 tsp lemongrass grated
- 2 tsp agave syrup
- 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tsp sambal oelek
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup hot water
To prepare the peanut sauce
Add all ingredients into a small mixing bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
To prepare the salad
Press the tofu: Remove tofu from packet, cut into desired size, and arrange one by one onto a clean kitchen cloth/towel. Cover up the pieces with the clean towel, place a flat, heavy object (such as a dutch oven or cast iron pan) on top of the tofu to press out extra moisture. This ensures that the tofu will not stick to the frying pan as much. Set aside to continue pressing.
Blanch the cabbage, green beans, and spinach: Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil on high heat. Plunge the cabbage and green beans into the water. After 2-3 minutes, add in the spinach for 15 seconds. Strain out hot water and plunge the cabbage, green beans, and spinach into ice water to stop the cooking process. Allow to strain and dry.
Fry the tofu: Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Heat oil. Fry tofu on all sides until golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes on each side.
Make the salad: Add all salad components into a large bowl. Add desired amount of peanut dressing and toss through. Garnish with desired accompaniments (extra peanuts, fresh chili, lime wedges, fried shallots, chili flakes, rice crackers) and enjoy.
If you have extra peanut sauce, it will keep in the fridge up to one week. You can use it for rice paper rolls, noodle salads, etc. After removing from fridge, stir in a bit of hot water before use. The peanut sauce will keep in the freezer up to two months.
SAVE THIS RECIPE FOR LATER, ON PINTEREST:
Want more vegan Asian-inspired recipes? Check out these favorites:
- Vietnamese Noodle Salad (Bún Chay)
- Thai Mango Sticky Rice
- Indian Chickpea and Potato Curry (Chana Aloo Masala)