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Gado Gado

As promised, here's my Gado Gado recipe.  I hope you'll enjoy it.


This classic salad of blanched vegetables dressed with a spicy peanut sauce is considered one of the national dishes of Indonesia.  Cucumber, bean sprouts, cabbage and green beans are traditional, but the variety of vegetables may differ.  Try using boiled and sliced potatoes, blanched broccoli florets, blanched spinach, or sliced jicama.  This salad should be served at room temperature with the vegetables tender-crisp.   I like to serve Gado Gado with a basket of crisp, deep fried krupuk (Indonesian shrimp crackers).

Serves 4 or 6 as part of a multicourse meal

1 medium cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
4 cups bean sprouts, parboiled for 20 seconds, rinsed in cold water and drained well
3 cups shredded green cabbage, parboiled for 1 minute, rinsed in cold water and drained well
 1/2 pound green beans, ends snapped and broken into 2" long pieces.  Parboiled for 5 minutes, rinsed in cold water and drained well
1 medium carrot, julienned, parboiled for 1 minute, rinsed in cold water and drained well
2 hard boiled eggs, shelled and cut into wedges
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fried shallots

Peanut Sauce for Gado Gado
Yield: about 2 cups

This sauce, known as Sambal Kacang (pronounced Ka-chang), is equally delicious as a lukewarm dip for a crudite platter or sauce for chicken and beef satays.

3/4 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky
1/4 cup lime juice
2 - 3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce ( Ketjap Manis) or regular soy sauce.  If using regular soy sauce use the larger amount of sugar.
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce, or more to taste
1 cup coconut milk

Combine all the ingredients together in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir constantly with a spoon or wire whisk.  When smooth, add 1/4 cup water and continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil  Turn down heat and allow to simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking and burning.  Remove pan from heat.  The sauce will thicken as it cools.  Serve lukewarm.  If the sauce becomes too thick, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

Assembling the Gado Gado:

Ring a large platter with the cucumber slices, then spread the bean sprouts, cabbage and green beans in layers in the center.  Pour 1 cup of warm peanut sauce over the vegetables and arrange carrots and egg wedges on top, then garnish with the fried shallots.  Place any extra peanut sauce in a small bowl on the table so people may add extra sauce as desired.  Serve with deep fried krupuk crackers, if desired.

Gado Gado for 2 in a Delft, Netherlands Indonesian restaurant

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Like so many of us, Helen Chen learned to cook at her mother's side. But few of us had a mother like Joyce Chen. Helen grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her mother prepared the authentic dishes of her native Shanghai and Beijing with the sort of regularity the rest of us came to expect of macaroni and cheese or meatloaf.

"I remember when I was little, watching my mother prepare meals for family and friends. I once wrote a list of my favorite Chinese dishes," Helen recalls, "I came up with 150 recipes. I do not have one or two favorites. All the dishes on the list are traditional and all are ones that I learned from my mother. That is what I love most about Chinese food: its variety. Taste, texture and color all come into play, as does personality and culture. I think this is what cooking is all about."

Soft spoken and intensely intelligent, Helen Chen was born in Shanghai and moved to the U.S. with her family while still a baby. Helen grew up, as she describes it, in a traditional Chinese-American household. "When I was young I wanted to be totally American," she remembers. "It wasn't until I was in high school that I realized how lucky I was to have two cultures."

Today, Helen Chen is a widely acknowledged expert in Chinese cooking. Besides her role as an educator and cookbook author, she also is a corporate spokesperson and business consultant to the house wares industry. In 2007 she created and developed a new line of Asian kitchenware under the brand name Helen’s Asian Kitchen®, expressly for Harold Import Company in New Jersey.

Having been born in China and raised and educated in the United States, Helen brings the best of both worlds to her approach to the art of Chinese cuisine. She understands the needs of the American cook as only a native can, yet she is intimately knowledgeable in the culinary practices and philosophy of China.

In her active role as a teacher and educator, Helen teaches Chinese cuisine at Boston University; and, through the Anderson Foundation’s enrichment program ‘Cooking Up Culture’ she teaches Boston area school children from grades 1-12 about Chinese cuisine and culture. She also teaches Asian cuisine in numerous cooking schools across the country.

Helen has lectured to various professional and culinary organizations such as the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Boston University Seminars in the Arts and Culinary Arts, Oldways Preservations and Exchange Trust, Small Business Development Center, The Culinary Historians of Boston, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and the Culinary Guild of New England. In addition, she conducts culinary tours of Boston’s Chinatown and is a frequent guest chef at cooking schools around the U.S.

Helen is the author of Helen Chen’s Chinese Home Cooking (Hearst Books, 1994), Peking Cuisine (Orion Books,1997) and Helen’s Asian Kitchen: Easy Chinese Stir-Fries (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). A second book in the Helen’s Asian Kitchen series, Helen’s Asian Kitchen: Easy Asian Noodles is scheduled for publication in January, 2010.