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Acar – Acar Awak – Spicy Mixed Vegetable Pickle

Acar is a type of pickling made in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. It is made from different vegetables such as yardlong beans, carrots and cabbage which are pickled in vinegar and dried chillies. The vegetables are then tossed in ground peanuts.

Variants of acar include acar awak or Nyonya acar, and Malay acar. Acar awak is more elaborate, containing other vegetables such as eggplants as well as aromatic spices in the pickling mix.

Acar is commonly served as a condiment to be eaten with a main course.

In Indonesia, acar is commonly made from small chunks of cucumber, carrot, shallot and occasionally pineapple, and marinated in a sweet and sour solution of sugar and vinegar. Some households add lemongrass or ginger to spice it up.

The salad has also been adopted in to Thai cuisine where it is called achat (Thai language: อาจาด). It is made with cucumber, red chillies, red onions or shallots, vinegar, sugar and salt. It is served as a side dish with the Thai version of satay (สะเต๊ะ).

Acar - Acar Awak - Spicy Mixed Vegetable Pickle
This dish acts as an appetiser in any meal. It adds zest to a plain dish of fried bee hoon.
Ingredients
  • 500 g cucumber, cut into 3 cm thick strips ( Do not peel the skin )
  • 300 g cabbage, cut into 3 cm thick strips
  • 100 g carrots, cut into 3cm long strips
  • 100 g long beans (snake beans), cut into 3 cm lengths
  • 100 g French beans, cut into 3cm lengths
  • 100 g pineapple, cut into small pieces
For scalding vegetables
  • 600 ml water
  • 400 ml vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
Spice grind to paste
  • 50 g dried red chillies (soaked a while until softened)
  • 100 g shallots, peeled
  • 40 g cloves garlic, peeled
  • 15 g fresh turmeric, remove skin
  • 5 g galangal, cut into thin slices
  • 10 g candlenuts
  • 20 g toasted dried shrimp paste (belachan)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (use only the bottom inner white tender part), cut into thin slices
  • 20 g coriander seeds
  • 100 g peanuts, roasted and pound coarsely
  • 4 tablespoons roasted white sesame seeds
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
also required
  • ¾ cup cooking oil
Instructions
  1. Quarter the cucumber lengthwise without peeling and remove the core. Cut into 3cm long strips. Knead 1 tablespoon salt into the cucumber slices and leave aside to marinate for 1 hour. Wrap the cucumber slices in a clean towel or muslin cloth and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Lay the cucumber slices on a tray, cover with a thin cloth and sun-dry for 2-3 hours. (This will give the cucumber a nice crunch).
  2. For the other vegetables, sun-dry them separately in trays for 1-2 hours.
  3. Bring water, vinegar, salt and sugar for scalding vegetables to a rapid boil. Blanch the sun-dried vegetables, one type at a time: 2-3 seconds for the cabbage, and 8-10 seconds for the rest of the vegetables. Never overcook the vegetables or they will lose their crunchiness. Drain vegetables and set aside.
  4. Fry the spice paste in hot oil until it rises and separates from the paste. Season with 9 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons salt. Bring it to a boil. Stir in 2 tablespoons vinegar, turn off heat and set aside.
  5. Add in all the vegetables, ground peanuts and toasted sesame seeds and mix well.

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