I think Acar is a great way to eat raw veggies. It's a pickled salad that's delightfully sweet, sour and summery all at once (wow, plenty of alliterations there).
You can get Acar quite easily in supermarkets here, but if I have the time, I like to make my own. Why? So that I get to control the amount of vinegar! Urgh, some of the commercially-made ones add soooo much vinegar, it is a health hazard to eat them. Truly, you can feel your oesophagus burn as the Acar makes its way down to your tum. Not good.
There are many recipe variations for Acar, given the cultural influences of every region, so there are no hard and fast rules. For me, I only like cucumbers, carrots, pineapples, shallots and peanuts in my Acar. I know some people add long beans, egg plant and cauliflower. Some also add belacan (shrimp paste). Well, it's your call :)
I love Acar as a side dish to Nasi Lemak or Chicken Curry. Oh yum! It brings a refreshing tang to a spicy meal.
(my own estimates making Acar today)
- 3 cucumbers, cored and sliced into strips (do NOT peel the skin)
- 1 large carrot, sliced into strips
- 1 Thai Honey pineapple, cut into chunks
- 1 handful shallots, peeled and sliced
- 100g peanuts, dry fried and crushed
- 3 tbsp rempah
- 1/2 cup white rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
1. To make your veggies crunchy, you need to dry them out. In Singapore, where the sun is so strong it dries your laundry to a crisp, I laid out the cut ingredients on trays and placed them under direct sunlight. Otherwise, you can use an oven.
2. Now, the good thing about having a tub of ready-made rempah on hand is that you already take half the work out of making Acar. I guess you can also substitute with ready-made curry paste, if you want instant gratification ;)
3. After the veggies are dried, fry 3 tbsp of rempah in oil. Add the water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil.
4. Throw in the veggies and quickly coat them thoroughly. Do not cook the veggies. Leave to cool before bottling. Refrigerate.