Sarah B’s Balinese Gado Gado

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First of all, hello you. It’s been a while. I can hardly believe that the holidays are behind us and even the whole of January. What happened?!

Well, before I launch into the recipe, I just wanted to update you all on a couple things.

I need to start by saying that the Wild Heart High Spirit Bali Retreat was, without a doubt, one of the coolest projects I’ve ever had the pleasure to work on. Mikkala Marilyn Kissi and I welcomed and held space for 16 women to totally transform, and come out on the other side of seven days, new humans. We all landed back into our physical bodies, rediscovering the euphoria of movement and breath, the taste of real food, the feeling of laughter in our cells, sun on our skin, smiles in our hearts. I could go on forever about how deeply moved I feel about the whole thing, but I will just say thank you to everyone who came, and that we are going to do another one very, very soon. There are a few photos from the retreat at the bottom of this post – I hope you enjoy, and join us next time.

Also. Cookbook tour. It’s happening. Naturally Nourished officially lands in North America February 14th and I am close behind. I’ll be visiting New York, Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are more details at the bottom of this post and on my Events page, so please have a look. For all other countries, please stay tuned!

Now, it’s recipe time.

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If you’re a vegetarian traveling through Indonesia, gado gado will save your life. It’s the dish that is on every single menu, a veggie-loaded, protein-rich salad drenched in the most flavourful, luscious peanut sauce that you’ve ever tasted. Combining raw and slightly steamed or blanched vegetables and bean sprouts, it is typically served with fried tofu or boiled eggs and prawn crackers, but so easily made vegan. The first time I traveled to this part of the world, I ate gado gado so often, that I almost grew tired of it. Almost.

What was my initial meal to celebrate the return to the magical island of Bali this time? Naturally, gado gado, and it did not disappoint. There is something incredibly satisfying about the dish, something that grabs a hold and makes you coming back for more – I believe it is the exquisite balancing act of flavours and textures. The veggies are light and tender (never mushy!), the sprouts are crunchy and fresh, but the true magic lies da sauce. It hits all the notes with its creamy, rich, salty, sweet, acidic, toasty and spiciness. While eating it you’re coming up with ways to justify pouring it on everything (Rice? Yes! Spring rolls? Obviously! Roasted veggies? Of course! Bean salad? Why not?!). Of all the dishes I taught during my retreat cooking classes in Bali, this is the one that the ladies really went wild for. Because sauce.

I will mention that I am taking major liberties with the traditional recipe, keeping my version vegan and soy-free, and switching out the peanuts for more health-supportive almonds. I realize that this is akin to making pasta out of vegetables (i.e. not at all pasta), but we often and readily make allowances for the promise of something healthier, so just roll with me on this one, okay? Thanks.

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But Sarah, what’s wrong with peanuts?
You may recall me tackling this subject before, but for those of you who are hearing just learning that peanuts and the things made with it are less-than-awesome, let’s recap! Although there are a lot worse things you could be eating, there are also plenty of healthier choices than peanuts, and here’s why.

First of all, peanuts are a bit of an odd duck plant. Not a true nut, but a bean in fact, peanuts grow underground in their thin-skinned pods, which come into direct contact with the surrounding soil. Because this soil is often moist and warm, it presents the ideal environment for fungus to proliferate. Now, it’s not the fungus that is the issue in this case, but the poison it releases, called alflatoxin, which is a cancer-causing agent that attacks the liver. What is the most shocking news, is that the highest levels of alflatoxin aren’t found in big brand peanut butters, but in the peanut butter ground fresh in health food stores.

Second of all, conventionally-grown peanuts are sprayed with very high levels of pesticides and are one of the most contaminated crops in the North America. They are also often genetically modified.

Thirdly, peanuts contain very high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids, an essential fat that we consume too much of in general. Ideally, Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats should be consumed in a 3:1 ratio (like the ratio found in hemp seeds!), otherwise inflammation erupts in the body.

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If you’re a serious peanut and peanut butter lover, there are a few things you can do. For starters, find a brand of peanuts that have been grown organically in a dry environment (New Mexico for instance). Dry environments mean drier soils, which means less fungus. Make sure the nuts you are buying are very fresh and raw, since the word “roasted” cruelly translates to “deep fried”. Dry-roasted are okay since they don’t use oil in the cooking process, but these nuts are typically old.

But the best alternative of all? Other nuts! Like almonds. Almonds are high in vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that makes our skin look radiant, and helps protect again heart disease. Almonds have been proven to help lower cholesterol, the risk of weight gain and diabetes. They have about half the amount of Omega-6 fats that peanuts do, along with fewer calories. I snack on almonds and almond butter whenever I can, and have successfully replaced peanuts with this healthier option. I hope you’re inspired to do the same!

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The cool thing about this dish is that you can make it any time of year with seasonal veggies and prepare them the way that suits you and the outdoor temperature, while keeping the sauce exactly the same. I like to eat veggies almost entirely raw in the summer, and include things like cucumber, green beans, radish, and lettuces. In the winter however, gado gado is truly the prefect cold-weather salad since everything can be slightly cooked and enjoyed warm. For this version, I chose two kinds of cabbage, kale, carrots, sweet potato, and freshly sprouted mung beans. An improvement I’ve made since teaching this recipe at the retreat was tossing the still-warm vegetables in virgin coconut oil – best decision. This adds a whole other layer of flavour and creaminess, plus adds even more richness, which need this time of year. Did I mention there’s also sauce?!

There are a couple ways of making my version of gado gado sauce. The best method, for sure, is roasting your own almonds and making your own fresh nut butter. The flavour will truly blow your mind if you go in this direction. But! If you are pressed for time and / or don’t feel like going through the rigmarole, you can totally use store-bought almond butter. Just make sure that it is unsweetened and made from roasted almonds, not raw. We want the full depth of flavour here – raw almond butter is too mild and will be overwhelmed by the other sauce ingredients.

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Here are some shots I took during the retreat in Bali. It was beyond magical.
If you’d like to stay updated about the next one, please sign up for our newsletter and be the first to know once we announce!

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And now for the book tour! I am so insanely excited to get on the road with my latest cookbook, Naturally Nourished, which you can preorder here. I’ll be in New York City and Toronto first, and tickets for the events in those cities are now available. Check the Events page, Instagram and Facebook for the remaining cities, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. See you soon!

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February 20th
My New Roots x The Aerie Collective: WisdomShare
“Turning Your Creativity Into a Career”
Spend an evening with Sarah for an inspiring presentation about how she has grown her food blogging passion into a thriving career.
Her book is available for purchase & signing.

Click here for tickets and more details


February 21st
My New Roots + Food52 Livestream

Tune in to Food52’s Facebook at 3pm EST, for a live broadcast of Sarah Britton demonstrating two of her favourite recipes from her new cookbook Naturally Nourished.

Live event link: www.facebook.com/food52


February 21st
My New Roots + Jessica Murnane + Julia Turshen
A very special night of inspiring conversation + a celebration + great women in food! Join us for the launch party of two beautiful & brilliant new cookbooks: Sarah Britton’s Naturally Nourished and Jessica Murnane’s One Part Plant With the conversation led by the highly acclaimed author & chef, Julia Turshen. Come for the bites, drinks, and book signings by all three women – stay for the good times & (selfies)!

Click here for tickets and more details


February 22nd
My New Roots + Amy Chaplin + The Finch: Plant-based Dinner Celebration
We’re thrilled to invite you to a very special dinner collaboration at Michelin-starred restaurant The Finch, celebrating two fantastic women in food. Join us for this inspired & intimate gathering.

Click here for tickets and more details


TORONTO


February 24th
My New Roots x The Aerie Collective: WisdomShare
“Turning Your Creativity Into a Career”
Spend an evening with Sarah for an inspiring presentation about how she has grown her food blogging passion into a thriving career.
Her book is available for purchase & signing.

Click here for tickets and more details


February 25th
Naturally Nourished Book Launch at Appetito!
We’re very happy to welcome you to join us for an excting interview with Sarah, Q&A, recipe tasting from the cookbook, book purchasing & signing.

Click here for tickets and more details


February 26th
My New Roots + The First Mess: Cookbook Celebration Gathering
Together with Sarah, Laura and an incredible community we would love to invite you to meet, feast & celebrate in their cookbook launch!

Click here for tickets and more details

73 comments

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  4. Kara

    This tastes sooo good! I put 4 or 5 small thai chilis in the sauce and it absolutely has a kick to it, but in a great way. Toasting the almonds deeply really punched up the flavor too. The sauce that was left over thickened up quite a bit in the fridge. No biggie, but had to warm it up a bit and thin it with some water to get it back to the right consistency for my lunch the next day. Also on day two, I did no steaming. Just turned it into a salad of raw red and green cabbage, carrot, kale, sprouts, julienned red pepper and some sliced radishes and it was equally delish. Authentic gado gado, perhaps not, but no matter what you call it, I’ll be making it again. Thank you!

  5. Jenny

    I was excited when you described this beautiful recipe as soy-free – and then very disappointed to find out the sauce requires tamari. Do you think coconut aminos would work? That’s the usual soy-free substitute for tamari, but I’ve found it’s too sweet to work well in many recipes.

  6. Rob Syme

    Looks great! Such a shame about the aflatoxin risk in peanuts! A side issue – are you sure about your claim that peanuts are often genetically modified? I’m pretty sure that there aren’t any GM peanut varieties available. I could be wrong though.

    • Jessica

      Agreed. GE corn sneaks in to peanut butter often, and I think there are many, many people working on breeding (through GE) a ‘hypoallergenic’ peanut…but these aren’t yet released or approved on the market. Does anyone know more?

  7. Willis

    hen water rationing and high prices cut off their access, they began to drill water wells and pump out California’s precious ground water to pick up the slack. Not only does this have disastrous repercussions for the environment in wow

  8. Carlton L Barnes

    Sarah you are just awesome. Every time i want to try new thing in cooking and you helped me a lot providing the very new extraordinary recipes yet simple to prepare. Thanks for your simpleness and also your effort. You never let me down.

    Best Regards
    Carlton

  9. birgit

    yesterday the postman handed me your book
    i’m so glad
    and i will soon try gado gado
    it looks very delicious
    lg birgit

  10. Jennifer Wise

    Hi Sarah,

    First time visitor here. But I already fell in love with what you have here!

    Thank you for sharing this easy healthy recipe. It is so delicious. This will definitely be on my to-try list in the near future. Thanks for sharing it with us 🙂

    Jennifer

  11. Kevin

    Made this for dinner this evening. It was absolutely delicious. The sauce is wonderful. I have more of all the ingredients left over and plan on making another batch this Saturday.

  12. Allison Bost

    This recipe sounds incredible! It will be going into the dinner rotation this week at home, thanks for sharing! Also, I really appreciate the information about peanuts. I had no idea they were anything other than my childhood favorite food?! I’ll be switching to almond butter from now on.
    Good luck on your book tour!

  13. Emily

    Made this over the weekend. I often browse your site and recipes because they feel inspired and looks delicious but as a meat eater, these wouldn’t be my go-to meals, more like an occasion when I want a veggie-ful boost (was a vegetarian for 8 years, so I do appreciate my veggies).

    Made this for 3 people and everyone enjoyed it and I had seconds. My only comment — I thought the almond was overpowering. I added more of everything else to the sauce for balance but it’s very almondy. More coconut milk, more sugar, more tamari, more lime — that helped!

  14. Anna Becker

    Great article. The pictures are amazing! I travel a lot, but even so, I’m envious. I’ve known for quite awhile that peanuts are associated with cancer, but I didn’t know why. Thanks for that info. Most people think peanuts are healthy, so this will help me spread the word.

  15. Beyhan

    This is such a great post! Thank you so much for this ❤️ and I wish, I could come to New York or to any event option in Toronto…unfortunately germany isn’t next to this places 😉

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  17. sara forte

    Sarah! That peanut info was so helpful. I knew pieces of this information but not enough to ever explain it or have a strong enough reason to not buy it but this is so helpful to know. Thank you. Can’t wait to see your new book. It looks gorgeous. Good luck on your tour. Hoping to make it to your LA event.

  18. Jessie Snyder

    Wow, I learned so much about peanuts in this post Sarah! Thank you for that <3. I sadly have an almond allergy, do you think cashew butter is a decent alternative too? Loved these Bali pictures, what an amazing experience! Cannot wait to see when you'll be in LA. Really hoping to drive up to celebrate your gorgeous new book with you! xx

  19. K Power

    I made this last night…. it was incredible!
    We added Japanese Horenso greens instead of kale; this dish is going to be a weekly staple. It’s quick easy, and we usually have all the ingredients in the house.
    Also made the banana bread granola from the cookbook….IT WAS ALSO AMAZING
    It has got to be the best granola I have ever tasted!
    Looking forward to your Vancouver visit.

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  22. Lorien Waldron

    So beautiful! 🙂 This recipe looks completely delicious Sarah, as does the retreat in Bali! 🙂 Blisss!! I look forward to attending your Toronto Wisdom Share talk in feb. 🙂 XX So beautiful. Thankyou for your inspiring sharings!! 🙂 xxx

  23. Pingback: Sarah B’s Balinese Gado Gado – ULLI Global News
  24. Emma

    I love your recipies and photos but do not always agree with some of the food advise, in this case about peanuts. People nowadays are really confused about what is healthy and what is not. In my opinion to help them eat less meat, more wholegrains and veggies this should be celebrated in a positieve, simple way! By focussing on the possibillity of small bad side effect, we missing the point. For example, after reading your book I almost got scared for rating raw nuts (because it says without soaking they have anti nutrients etc.). The information that they are more nutritious when soaked is correct, but this kind of information is confusing as raw nuts are still super healthy! And if you eat some raw nuts or peanuts instead of animal producs you make an awesome choice! Just to say Sarah, I think you have a beautifull blog and are a really cool person but in my opinion some of the detailled information might work against a healthy choice instead of stimulating it. Hope arw not offended you since Im a big fan!

  25. MARIALUISA

    Thanks for the info about peanuts…I´m not such an eater but my hubby does, I´m going to tell him all about it now.
    And WELCOME BACK!!
    The pictures in Bali are gorgeous….
    Love from Spain

  26. Dawn

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful retreat photos and the story behind this incredible recipe. I can’t wait to try it and be transported to Indonesia.
    I completely agree with your concerns about peanuts and can understand Alexandra’s point above and can appreciate her perspective – she’s correct about what’s going on here in the US in the almond farming industry. Many times I use natural, unsweet sunflower seed butter due to my daughter’s food allergies. That may be an interesting alternative for almond butter.

  27. Freja

    What Alexandra said. Absolutely vital information! Just be careful not to get stuck in the “everything is bad in some way so everything is equally bad”-swamp. It’s not a very good place, mostly because it’s just not true but also because it’s hard to make responsible decisions when you’re down there.

    Perhaps there is an even better, environment-wise, replacement than almonds? The recipe looks reeeally nice. Beautiful pictures.

  28. Mona

    Your retreat in Bali sounds wonderful, and this salad… it looks stunning. I have a lot of cabbage at home so I might just make this tonight. Unfortunately my blender isn’t strong enough to make nut butter so I will have to buy some. Thanks for your crazy awesomeness! I still need to preorder your book (its gonna be my reward for finishing uni) and I wonder if that ebook that you wrote for the preorder before Christmas is still available? I had to save some money for a skiing trip back then 😉

  29. Mizpah @Raw Food Solution

    Gado-gado was my favorite dish when I lived in Bali too! This is an interesting variation and I like how you’ve made it work with what you have available seasonally. It really does show how versatile gado-gado can be – but then with the right sauce you can put it on anything and it will be delicious 🙂

  30. Heather

    Absolutely delicious, Sarah! Made this tonight and will be on my regular go to list, so easy to make, finger–licking sauce and the crunch and flavours that I like. LOVE this!

  31. Jo

    Ohh heck! You have no idea how much I look forward to your posts. Thank you for delicious recipes, uplifting words, and the lovely photos!

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  34. Silvia

    Hi Sarah! Are you selling your book anywhere outside the US or CA? Would love to buy it for me and a friend but I am in Ireland 🙂

    thanks a mill,
    silvia

  35. Sarah | Well and Full

    So many amazing things in this post – this beautiful recipe, the Bali retreat photos, and cookbook info!!! I pre-ordered your cookbook and I can’t wait for it to come out!! The first MNR book is by far my favorite cookbook I have, so I can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with in this one! 😀

  36. Susan

    My brain is doing acrobatics over this Gado Gado. It has been a favorite dish since I first had it at a restaurant in West Los Angeles back in the 1970s. I remember that it had cooked green beans and potatoes, and of course, the wonderful peanut sauce. I have not been aware of the problems with peanuts that you mentioned. I guess that roasting the almonds would make up for the difference in flavor. I’m having a hard time imagining that even roasted almonds would be enough like the peanut flavor, but I’m willing to try it (and that’s even though I do not like roasted almonds). Fortunately, almond butter is easy to make. You’ve definitely put me in the mood for Gado Gado – and another visit to Bali. I hope your book tour goes well.

  37. Alexandra

    I love your work and this recipe sounds delicious and amazing. However, the rant about peanuts perturbed me. Your concern over the damage that peanut farming does to the environment seems hypocritical when you then champion almonds as a replacement without any comment or analysis. Almond farming is held responsible by many for exacerbating the California drought. California produces 80 percent of the world’s crop. Much of that crop is grown in former desert or land without access to water. It takes a gallon of water to grow a single almond. 80 percent of the California water supply goes to agriculture and of that 10 percent is used by almond farmers. In fact, almonds are the second thirstiest crop grown in California, after alfalfa. However, unlike alfalfa, almond farmers cannot stop watering and choose to let their fields go fallow in drought years. Farmers were watering their crops with water trucked or piped in from other states or Northern California. When water rationing and high prices cut off their access, they began to drill water wells and pump out California’s precious ground water to pick up the slack. Not only does this have disastrous repercussions for the environment in depletion of the aquifer but the pumping is so severe that millions of acres are sinking in a phenomenon called subsidence. Beyond how terrible almond farming as currently practiced by the majority of farmers has been to the California environment and contributed to the extremely severe drought, it is no better pesticide-wise than peanut farming, one of your other criticisms. Only a few million pounds of the 200 billion pounds of almonds grown each year are organic. The rest of the farmers use large quantities of pesticides that have subsequently been linked to and banned for harming aquatic insects and killing the bees brought in to pollinate the orchards. One chemical they use to treat all almonds now after past salmonella outbreaks has been linked to cancer in humans (propylene oxide). The cost of water and the pesticides necessary to produce almonds now has pushed most small farmers out of business. I could go on but I guess my point is that neither nut is ideologically or environmentally or even morally pure. It bothers me to see you attack one and champion the other. The fact is the vast majority of our food is grown in ways that hurt our environment, contribute to making us more sick and make it increasingly difficult for small American family farms to stay afloat and not see their heritage turned into subdivisions. No one’s hands are clean. No food is ideologically pure. The best we can do is to try to buy as much as we can afford from local, small family-owned farms who grow organic crops in a responsible manner.

    • Amy

      I agree and want to add, every single almond has to be pollinated by a bee, meaning that bees from all over the country are driven to the almond orchards (which can’t sustain insect life outside that small window due to monoculture) and mites and whatnot are spread (and bees are weakened by the voyage). This is in contrast to other but crops like hazelnuts that are wind pollinated.

    • Sorayah

      Agreed.

      Additionally, as an Indonesian myself, I really dislike the fact that you used almonds in the recipe instead of peanuts. Or that you used kale, sweet potato… spiralized carrots? Are you kidding me? I know you said that you are taking “major liberties”, but this is NOTHING close to gado-gado folks. Call it what it actually is: a salad with almond dressing.

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