Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Oh my Gado Gado Salad!

M Cafe de Chaya's Gado Gado salad

Sooo good.” I moan over a mouthful of crunchy peanuts, crispy onions and greens laced with peanut dressing. “I don’t think I can ever order anything different here again!”

Ashley looks skeptical. “But you’ve never had the M Chopped before.” She points out, referring to her favorite salad at M Café de Chaya, the trendy macrobiotic eatery where we are eating dinner.

“I bet I could make this.” I continue, so caught up in the different textures and flavors in the Gado Gado salad that I can’t seem to focus on what she is saying.

Ashley shakes her head. “I think it would be easier just to get it here.”

“It wouldn’t be that hard!” I continue, again oblivious to the wise words coming out of my most practical friend’s mouth.

It’s already too late for me. As usual, once I get it in my head that I want to make something, there’s no convincing me do otherwise.

For better or worse.

Till death do we (the food item and my lips) part.

I took on M Café’s Gado Gado salad this past Saturday at a most inopportune time. Not only was I baking chocolate chip cookies for my friend, but I was also attempting to pack up to spend a week down in Orange County with my family. Of course, none of this seemed to matter to me. I was set on making the salad right then – even if it meant quadruple tasking and over-extending myself as usual.

Did I mention I was also running on five hours of sleep? And had further exhausted myself by working out for an hour at the gym that morning? And had to run to Nordstrom’s at the Grove to pick up a bag of Big Train Vanilla Chai for another friend’s birthday?

Right. Good. Just wanted to make it perfectly clear that I’m insane.

Instead of just grabbing the Gado Gado from M Café’s West Hollywood location that is only a mile from my apartment, I opted to do the following:

1. Make crispy onions by slicing shallots into absurdly thin pieces and then roasting them in the oven for 30-45 minutes (at 375 degrees).
2. Cook brown rice.
3. Marinate tempeh in soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar, and sauté in pan with garlic.
4. Whip up a dressing with peanut butter, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, rice wine vinegar.
5. Slice green beans into inch long pieces and lightly steam them
6. Julienne baby carrots and red pepper.
7. Chop up roasted and salted peanuts.
8. Combine everything with arugula and top with the onions and peanuts.

The end result was good. Heartier than the version I had at M Café because of my addition of the brown rice (I heart carbs), but the dressing was a touch too gingery for the recreation. And my onions just didn’t have the same crunchy goodness as the ones topping M’s salad.

But it was a nice lunch. Not perfect, probably completely inauthentic in terms of traditional Indonesian preparations of the Gado Gado salad, but fine for my purposes (eating lunch).

Ultimately, however, I think Ashley was right. (She always is.) It probably would have been easier to just pick up one from the café.

But where’s the fun/insanity in that?

My version of the Gado Gado salad


burumun said...

I had to check this out because "Gado Gado" is originally an Indonesian salad w peanut dressing! It's definitely not the same although I see common ingredients :)
Let me know if you want to try the real gado gado one day.

Jenn said...

Now that looks fantastic!!! I have a craving for salad all of the sudden. Good thing, too as tomorrow will be a feast.

yutjangsah said...

I am very impressed. I think it's way better that you went to the effort of making it than buying it. Leave that to me. I will have to try this sob at that dang m cafe that i can't seem to leave behind no matter how many times i vow no more with you m cafe!

Diana said...

Fiona - Haha, yeah... this is my way bastardized version. Would love to try the real gado gado some day - where are the Indonesian restos in LA?

Jenn - I've been trying to eat a lot of salad this week in preparation for the big TDay! Hope you have a nice one!

Sook - I love M Cafe but it is definitely better for lunch when my belly beast is less aggressive than it is when it sees the light of the moon. Yeah that's werewolf reference. My mom's using bleach, so this is where my mind is going.

Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ said...

Your salad sound so delicious! I've never even heard of it before. Great recreation. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Chow and Chatter said...

oh wow great salad and good crunch

Anna A. said...

wah wah wah that salad sounds delish... next time can i come miss multitasker extrodinaire.

Diana said...

Reeni - Thanks! It's a traditional Indonesian dish so isn't too common -- I think M Cafe is the only place I've seen it near me! Happy Thanksgiving!

Chow & Chatter - The crunch is definitely the best part!

Anna - Yes, ma'am!

Gastronomer said...

I love it when you get crazy ideas in your head! Good crazy, of course.