Westdale Exotica

This just in!  Recipe from Chef Jarret for the Gado Gado:

Gado Gado

Serves 4 –   Like many Malay dishes, this is over the top and addictive.

Ingredients Satay Sauce

4                      garlic cloves

1                      stalk lemongrass, chopped

2½ Tbsp         Sambal Olek (Sauce made of chilies with no other additives such as garlic or spices for a more simpler taste. Used to add heat to a dish without altering the other delicate flavors).

4                      medium shallots

80ml                vegetable oil

½                     Tbsp salt

90g                 sugar

½ Tbsp           paprika

2 Tbsp            thick tamarind water (tamarind paste whisked in water)

225g               roasted peanuts, without skins

450ml             water

200ml             coconut milk

Ingredients – Salad

1 tsp                 turmeric


2                      potatoes, peeled and cut in wedges


½                    medium cabbage, cut into chunks


70g                  bean sprouts


100g                French beans, trimmed


½                   medium cucumber, sliced thickly


4                      hard-boiled eggs, quartered


100g               tofu, sliced




Cassava chips (or something deep-fried and crunchy: wonton skins, say)


3 Tbsp                        picked coriander leaves


Fried shallots (ready-bought)



In a food processor, whizz the garlic, lemongrass, sambal olek, galangal and shallots into a paste. Add a touch of the oil to bring it all together, if needed. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan, add the paste and cook, stirring regularly, over a low heat for 40-50 minutes, until the oil separates. Mix the salt, sugar and paprika, add to the sauce, along with the tamarind water, and cook for 10 minutes. Now roughly crush the nuts, then tip into a pan with the water, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the mixture thickens and most of the water has evaporated. Tip into the sauce, stir in the coconut milk and that’s your sauce done. Keep warm.

Have ready two pots of boiling water, one with the turmeric added. Blanch the spuds in the turmeric water until cooked. In the other pot, blanch the cabbage for a minute, then remove, the bean sprouts for 30 seconds, and the beans for four minutes.

Take a large serving plate and pile up the vegetables, eggs, tofu and most of the chips. Spoon the warm satay sauce on top (you’ll probably have a fair bit left over, which is no hardship) and sprinkle with the remaining chips, coriander and shallots. Serve warm-ish.


One version of “gado gado”

Gado gado” may sound like some sort of exotic Balinese dance, but, in fact, it is a Malaysian specialty that Chef Jarret Kramer from Hamilton’s The Bean Bar will be making for our Go Cooking session this Monday on July 28th.  The dish is unusual.  Kramer suggests that you imagine a cabbage-based salad which incorporates tofu, hard-boiled eggs, sprouts and potatoes — really a one dish meal.


Chef Jarret Kramer

The Chef is a Hamilton native who actually grew up in Dunnville.  But his background is Dutch and (as we’ve been very sadly reminded this last week), the Dutch have special links with Indonesia, both cultural and political.  (You do recall the spice trade, surely, and the Dutch East India Company.)  Indonesia was colonised by the Dutch until the middle of the last century so it’s hardly surprising that a Malaysian dish would be part of the Chef’s repertoire.   Still, Kramer insists that Malaysian is only “the tip of the ice berg.”  He’s vitally interested in all kinds of cuisines.

“I don’t want to get in a rut,” he says. ” In the past, I’ve had a larger interest in Asian cooking and had a trip to Japan when fusion cooking was so popular.  Right now, I’ve become really interested in South American and Caribbean dishes.  Having said that, when I go out to dinner, I like to try out things I don’t know — Indian, Ethiopian, Vietnamese — all sorts of ethnic dishes.”

Kramer is a very experienced chef who has been in the food business for 20 years.  His last gig, before The Bean Bar, was as executive chef at Milestones in both Hamilton and Mississauga.  He considers teaching as one of three necessary roles of the chef (the  other two being cooking, of course, and accounting).  He started cooking when he got his own first apartment.

“I was trying to get a job in the music and recording business but it was very tough.  I found a job in a kitchen and I loved it.  I went to Niagara College to get certified and have been working as a Chef for about 15 years.”

He found out that he had a gluten sensitivity through his girlfriend, a vegetarian who also does not eat gluten.  He had been suffering from swollen glands in his cheeks and his girlfriend persuaded him to give up gluten for a month to see if it would help.  He tried the experiment, immediately felt better, in general, and doesn’t have the swelling problem anymore.  The menu for our Go Cooking session will be gluten-free and along with the gado gado, I am very intrigued by the dessert:  an avocado tart with pepita (pumpkin seeds) almond crust and pomegranates.

Kramer is busy right now re-writing the menu at The Bean Bar and notes that when it is finished, it will be about 60% gluten free.


Okay, then, I am, this moment, putting in a special personal plea about The Bean Bar menu!

I’m sure you’re all aware of the Bean Bar’s location in Westdale next door to the wonderful old Westdale cinema.  I have been going to the Bean Bar since it opened in the 1990’s as an Internet cafe. (I know, how quaint!)  Over the years, it has evolved into a busy, lively full service restaurant with what I find a truly wonderful menu and it’s the place where my friends and I always end up after a movie next door.  So — please — do  not remove the French onion soup, a cold weather must, usually finished with cheese dripping down my chin.  And the salads are perfect for a hot summer day: please don’t pencil out the smoked salmon Niçoise, with its abundance of smoked salmon nor the huge Cobb.  And leave the nachos platter as is and don’t fool around with the best sweet potato fries in the city.  And, finally, please don’t “gluten-free” all of the cakes.  The Bean Bar has a huge selection of delicious, decadent cakes displayed in a glass case where one can stand and ponder and argue the merits of chocolate versus apricot and walnuts versus almonds, before deciding.  And when the choice is made, the individual servings are definitely large enough to share.

Anyway, we look forward to trying Chef Jarret’s specialties on Monday.  While we wait for the recipes for Monday, you might like to try one of my favorite summer salads, a dish that is based on a tonnato (tuna) sauce that is usually served with cold veal.

Green Bean Salad with Tuna Sauce and Olives

adapted from a recipe in Gourmet magazine, June 2003. jarretgreenb


1 lb green beans, trimmed

1 3 oz can white tuna packed in oil, drained and flaked

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. water

1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp anchovy paste

2 tbsp Niçoise or Kalamata olives

2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley


1)  Cook beans in a large pot of boiling salted water uncovered until tender crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.  Drain in a colander and immediately transfer to a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop the cooking.  When the beans are cold, drain and pat dry with paper towels, then arrange on a platter and season with salt.

2)  Puree tuna with olive oil, water, lemon juice and anchovy past in a blender, scraping down sides as necessary until very smooth.

3)  Season sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over beans.  Scatter olives and parsley leave on top.

Serves 4

My Notes:

Don’t overcook the beans.  And be sure to use the Italian tuna packed in oil. (I use Unico.)  It is much tastier and makes a big difference in the flavour.





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