Nyonya loves pickled vegetables of all kinds. So, there is no surprise that my family in Penang is partial to pickled or preserved foods—vegetables, fish stomach (perut ikan), and cincaluk (preserved baby shrimp). Grandmother was a huge fan of pickled Nyonya dishes.
I grew up watching her and my aunt making lots of acar (also called acar awak) or pickled mixed vegetables in a spicy and sour “pickle” sauce.
My aunt who in her 70’s now still makes acar religiously for celebrations or prayers to our ancestors. After I told her on the phone that I launched a Nyonya food blog, she made a big serving of acar for the purpose of this blog.
Too bad I am based in the United States, but my siblings are the lucky ones who got to savor her fabulous acar…
Because of the appetizing, sour and spicy great taste, acar is always a popular and high-demand “commodity” in my family. Here is my aunt’s recipe for acar (acar awak).
Do try it out as Nyonya pickles offer layers of flavors unlike other pickles. Just the color alone is enough to set my stomach rumbling and mouth watering.
Acar Awak Recipe (Nyonya Spicy Mixed Vegetable Pickle)
Acar Awak Recipe (Nyonya Spicy Mixed Vegetable Pickle).
- 300 g cucumber, cut lengthwise with the skin and seeds on
- 150 g cabbage, cut into big pieces
- 50 g carrot, skin peeled and cut lengthwise
- 50 g French beans, cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
- 50 g long beans, cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
- 50 g roasted peanuts, ground
- salt to taste
- sugar to taste
- 5 tablespoons oil
- 5 shallots
- 12 fresh red chilies
- 1/2 inch fresh turmeric, or some turmeric powder
- 2 candle nuts
- tamarind pulp, about golf ball size
- 1 cup water
Soak the tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze and extract the juice and set aside.
Blend the spice paste in a food processor and set aside.
Heat up a wok and add oil. Stir-fry the spice paste until aromatic. Add tamarind juice and bring to boil. Add salt and sugar to taste.
Add all vegetables into the wok and turn off the fire immediately. Add ground peanut, stir to mix well.
Dish out, let cool and serve. Acar is best served overnight.
You can keep acar in the refrigerator for a few days.