Note: This recipe is adapted from The Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland.
- For the Javanese peanut sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted skinned roasted peanuts
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried shrimp paste
- 1 fresh red Holland or green thai chile, or fresno, cayenne, or serrano
- 2 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 3 to 4 tablespoons palm sugar, thinly sliced, or dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon cider or rice vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup water
- For the Gado Gado
- 3 cups mung bean sprouts
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 6 ounces cotton tofu, drained and sliced into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1 large cucumber, cut into 2-inch long matchsticks, 1/4 inch on each side
- 1/2 head leafy green lettuce, torn into large bite-size pieces
For the peanut sauce: Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, about 1 minute. Add the peanuts and toast, shaking the pan every few seconds, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and allow to cool completely.
Place shrimp paste in the center of a small square of foil. Fold edges of the foil over to enclose the shrimp paste. Using a pair of tongs, place foil over direct heat of burner set to medium-high. Toast on both sides until fragrant, about 1 minute total. Using a spoon, scrape paste into a small bowl and allow it to cool.
Transfer peanuts to food processor and pulse until they are the consistency of sand, about 12 one-second pulses. Add toasted shrimp paste, chile, garlic, and sugar to the peanuts in the food processor. Pulse until mixture is grainy, about 8 to 10 one-second pulses.
Return mixture to skillet. Add coconut milk and bring to gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the milk is thick and will coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add vinegar and salt and stir well to combine. Add water. Sauce should have consistency of thick cream.
Set aside to cool before using.
Stores well in fridge for up to a week, reheat briefly, then allow to cool to room temp . If sauce becomes too thick, stir in a little water.
To assemble gado gado: Fill saucepan 3 quarts water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the bean spouts and blanch just until they begin to soften, 10 to 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bean sprouts to a colander and run cold water over them until cool.
Heat oil in nonstick 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tofu and cook until golden brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes total.
Place the bean sprouts, cucumbers, lettuce, and tofu into large mixing bowl. Add the peanut sauce and toss thoroughly. Serve immediately to retain the crispness of the vegetables.