I spent the month of January travelling in northern Indonesia on an island called Sulawesi. Despite the fact it's the 8th largest island in the world, few seem to know about it as most who head to this gorgeous country stick to Lombok and Bali. We were in the mood for something a little more off the beaten path, and we got exactly what we were looking by heading there.
I'm sure it's no surprise that most of what I seek out when I travel is food and wine. Sadly, wine in Indonesia is:
1. Hard to find
2. Banned in most Muslim areas
3. Incredibly expensive if you're lucky enough to find it
In the entire month we were there, the only bottle of wine we had, was at a 5 star hotel for a few nights on the last leg of our trip. A bottle of Chilean Cab for the bargain retail price of - wait for it - 80 DOLLARS (a bottle that would be found here for around 12 bucks). Suffice it to say, we drank a lot of beer.
A dish we revisited again and again was called gado gado, which literally translates to "hodgepodge" in English. Crunchy, spicy, sweet, salty, and fresh. Absolutely delicious. Here is the "Canadian" version I made shortly after arriving home. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! The great news is it's also vegan and gluten free, so safe for all those with dietary restrictions in your life. You can add hard boiled eggs if you so choose.
Vegetables (feel free to substitute for anything you don't like)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 bunch Napa cabbage
1 bunch green beans
Slice in thin, lengthy strips that can be easily assembled into an aesthetically pleasing pile. I did not cook any of my vegetables as I wanted to retain the crunch, and freshness.
1 cup peanuts
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup of water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2-3 cloves of garlic (add more or less depending on your tolerance)
1-2 thai chillies (add more or less depending on your tolerance)
1 small knob of ginger
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 bunch of scallions
Splash of Tamari
Process all of these ingredients in a high powered blender or magic bullet. If it is too thick, add more water to thin out. You want it to be thicker than a salad dressing, but not so thick that it can't be drizzled over the vegetables.
Pour the sauce over your vegetables, and garnish with peanuts, sesame seeds, wedges of lime and additional chillies.
There are so many possibilities for this dish - there's an abundance of flavour going on here so you could go in so many different directions. My top picks:
1. Off Dry Riesling - Okanagan, Mosel or Wachau. You need acid for this dish, but also a little sweetness to combat the spice. The fruit character of say, an older Riesling, will have evolved into a more tropical fruit flavour, than say under ripe or green apple flavours - that would lend well to the aromatics of the dressing.
2. Chenin Blanc - I'm thinking Vouvray here. It has the viscosity that'll stand up to the body of this dish, but have enough complexity, fruit and acid that it'll help keep your palate salivating for that next bite.
3. Dry Muscat - Alsace, or Okanagan (a number of fabulous examples have emerged as of late). Aromas and flavours that come to mind are lychee and ginger - flavours that would obviously work extremely well in this case.