While those abroad call it salad, Indonesians have a similar dish of their own. Mixing various steamed or raw vegetables that are then doused with peanut sauce, it is a dish that has many names. Some know it as Gado-Gado or Lotek, while others may be more familiar with Karedok or Pecel. It may be slightly odd to have so many monikers for the same dish, but behind their different handles lay different characteristics. This time around, we shall discuss regarding Lotek and Gado-Gado along with the distinctive aspects that separate the two.
Lotek is a Javanese dish that can be found from one end of the island to the other. It comprises steamed vegetables that are drenched in peanut sauce. The same goes for Gado-Gado, which also originated from the island of Java. Each region has its own variation, and despite their similar backgrounds, the non-identical attributes that set them apart do not only stop at their names, but also the ingredients that make them.
The contents of Lotek and Gado-Gado are more or less the same as they both contain steamed vegetables. However, there are a few veggies that are deemed compulsory in a Lotek, and they are spinach, long beans, peas and soybean leaves. On the other hand, there are a number of raw elements found in a Gado-Gado, such as cucumber, tomato and lemon basil, along with a handful of other components including boiled egg, boiled potato or corn. The concoction is then topped with Emping (gnetum gnemon seed crackers).
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Dressing-wise, both may use peanut sauce, yet the type that is commonly applied to a Lotek contains kencur (aromatic ginger), which lends a more powerful aroma. Meanwhile, the peanut sauce for Gado-Gado is commonly made from ground peanuts that are grinded with a bit of water – a process that leads to its rather sticky texture. It does not require terasi (shrimp paste chilli sauce) or lime leaves to make it more savoury. Besides being eaten on its own like a salad, Gado-Gado and Lotek can also be accompanied by rice cakes, rice or noodles.
And then there is Pecel and Karedok – both very indistinguishable dishes. Pecel incorporates simpler ingredients compared to Lotek and Gado-Gado, while a Karedok only uses raw vegetables. The duo is also soaked in peanut sauce, yet they taste unlike one another due to the use of different condiments. Whatever its name, this wholesome treat is perfect for those who are following a diet regime.