Dream of the Med while dipping and dunking
There is a famous Provençal dish called ‘Le Grand Aioli’ that combines a mayonnaise with a colourful array of fresh and cooked vegetables, meat or fish. Hennie Fisher experiments
ON MANY levels Le Grand Aioli is a composite dish that represents the Mediterranean lifestyle in which food always plays an integral part, but at the same time remains simple to prepare (often being served at room temperature) and enjoy.
Le Grand Aioli is often placed on the table in a large bowl (or even in the mortar it was made in) surrounded by all things fresh and delicious to be dunked into the mayo: these include radishes, fennel, cocktail tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, blanched green beans, blanched carrot sticks, artichokes, beetroot, cauliflower, some sort of white fish (often salt cod, poached), snails, mussels or clams, shrimp or crab — the list goes on.
In a continuous search for food that is similarly simple and fuss free, and that can be served al fresco with drinks as the sun hits the horizon (while imagining that one lives on the Mediterranean) this version of a famous Indone- sian salad was found. Meaning mix-mix, “gado-gado” is a onedish meal found on street corners and in households from Malaysia to Indonesia.
Gado-gado is described as an Indonesian extravaganza, and rightly so — the sauce is at the same time slightly pungent and hot, but mellow and rich with a deep earthiness emanating from the shrimp paste, palm sugar and tamarind. This is a dish that is difficult to describe since every person invariably has their own opinion of it.
Recipe books either categorise it as a salad in which case most of the ingredients should be mixed together with the sauce, while others propose that it should be served in the manner of a Grand Aioli with an array of cooked or raw vegetables on the side. Opinions differ as to what a real gadogado should contain.
Perhaps gado-gado is just one of those complex dishes that one has to accept comes with as many variations and possibilities as there are people wanting to eat it. Perhaps instead of trying to recreate the most correct version, it may be simpler to make your own and savour the unusual flavours and textures that it offers.