I'm not good at cooking Malay food. The use of so many spices confuse me and I'm also wary of the large amount of oil and sugar used in most Malay dishes. I've only made acar once, and it was a failure because the pickle went bad after only 4 days. Apparently I hadn't squeezed-dried the veg enough. After all that effort!
My friend B recently gave me a jar of acar that her mom had made. I didn't even bother to try it because the last time a friend gave me a large precious jar of acar she'd carried from Miri, I gave it away. The acar was way too sweet for me, so sweet that the cuke slivers were transparent, almost crystalized. When I made nasi lemak a few weeks ago, I took out B's jar of acar and almost ate the whole bottle by myself. The perfect acar! Crunchy, tasty veg with lots of crushed peanuts, very little oil and just the right level of sweetness.
B's mom has given her the recipe for me to share with you all. This will be the first recipe I'm posting which I have not tried out myself. It's just too much work when I can get it free...Quantities, like most Asian hand-me-down recipes, are adjustable according to your preference and also dependent on your experience. Good luck.
carrots, in thin strips
cauliflower, in small chunks
cabbage, cut into fine strips
long beans, in 3 cm lengths
cucumbers, in thin strips
fresh tumeric root, pared
dry chilies, washed and soaked
candlenuts (buah keras)
dry prawns. washed
--blend the above ingredients till fine.
white sesame seeds (dry-fry in a wok or pan till fragrant but not burnt)
peanuts, chopped coarsely
natural vinegar, salt and sugar
1. Boil water and vinegar. Scald the veg separately with the boiling vinegar water, except for the cucumber which is to be rubbed with lots of salt. Drain the veg and squeezed out as much water as you can. This is a back-breaking but important step. Leave to cool completely.
2. Heat oil in a wok and fry the blended spices in low heat without adding any water till spices are fragrant. This should take quite a while. Add salt, sugar and vinegar; taste should be quite intense because you've got all that veg to pickle. Let it cool.
3. Mix the dried veg, fried spices, sesame seeds and peanuts and fill into dry, clean glass bottles. Keep in fridge. The drier the veg, and the more sugar/salt/vinegar, the longer the acar will keep.