Achar (Nyonya Pickles)
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Tumeric is permanently staining on clothes, certain materials (such as plastic bowls) and surfaces. Use non-staining crockery and cookware. I use an old wok and spatula specifically for cooking anything with tumeric in it.
- 1 medium cucumber (about 400 to 450 grams)
- 1 small carrot (about 150 to 200 grams)
- 150 grams Chinese cabbage leaves
- 40 grams skinless roasted peanuts pounded
- 2 tbsp skinless roasted sesame seeds
- 200 grams pineapple flesh cut to small chunks
- 3 tsp sea salt divided
(A) Achar Paste
- 80 grams peeled shallots
- 2 peeled garlic cloves
- 2 candle nuts
- 3 dried chilli soaked in hot water to soften, then de-seeded & cut to shorter lengths
- 3 fresh red finger-length chilli de-seeded & cut to shorter lengths
- 1 stalk lemongrass use only the bottom white portion, sliced as finely as possible
- 5 grams peeled galangal (blue ginger) sliced; may substitute with ginger
- 1 tsp tumeric powder add it separately if you do not want to stain your food processor
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 125 ml rice vinegar
- 100 ml water
- 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder for extra heat; to taste
- 100 grams granulated gula melaka or brown sugar to taste
- 1/2 tsp salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp ikan bilis seasoning powder to taste; optional
- Cucumber. Cut cucumber into 3.5 cm sections (crosswise). Quarter each section (lengthwise) by cutting around and discarding the seed block. Slice thinly. Coat sliced cucumber evenly with 1 tsp salt for 1 hour. After an hour, rinse cucumber and place them in a coconut squeezer bag. Wring out excess water. Spread out cucumber on a wide plate. Air dry for one hour.
- Carrot. Peel carrot and cut into 3.5 cm sections (crosswise). Halve each section (lengthwise) and slice thinly. Stack the slices and cut (julienne) into thin matchsticks. Coat carrot with 1 tsp salt for 1 hour. After an hour, rinse and pat dry on paper towels. Spread out cut carrot on a wide plate. Air dry one hour.
- Cabbage. Cut cabbage into bite-sized pieces and coat evenly with 1 tsp salt for an hour. After an hour, rinse cabbage and pat dry on paper towels. Spread out cabbage on a wide plate. Air dry one hour.
- In a food processor or mortar and pestle, blend or pound (A) into a smooth paste.
Cook and Store
- In a wok, stir fry to cook acar paste until aromatic.
- Add (B). Mix well and bring to a simmer.
- Turn off the stove. Stir in prepared cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, pineapple, peanuts and sesame seeds. Season to taste.
- When cooled, store acar in sealed glass containers, refrigerated. Allow the acar to pickle overnight before consuming. Store for about 4 weeks in the fridge.