Penang Acar (also spelled as Achar) is a very special pickled vegetable dish. I think every Penangite loves it because of the appetizing, sour and spicy great taste. Who wouldn’t? There’s this lady at the pasar (morning market) near my Penang childhood home that sells mouth watering acar. Besides the market, many economy rice vendors also include acar into their dishes. Maybe that’s the reason why mama never made acar.
As usual, I was not aware of the origin of Penang dishes, including Penang Acar. As long as they taste good, it just goes into my tummy. But now it’s good to come to my knowledge that Penang Acar is a Penang Peranakan Nyonya dish when I decide to attempt it for Chinese New Year earlier this year. Now this Penang gal knows a bit more. This dish can be prepared a few days ahead, so it’s 1 less dish to prepare for the big feast. Alas my “blur-ness” during preparation added double amount of the vinegar. The extreme sourness + the chilli = heat gone through the roof! Luckily none of my relatives noticed that.
Be prepared for a lot of slicing action (good practice of knife skills). I adapted 2 recipes I found here, decided to seasoned the vegetables with some salt first to retain crunchiness texture. I’m a gal who likes some crunch in my food. As with most spicy dish, Penang acar tastes better when the pickle is left overnight to allow all spice ingredients to mingle. You can keep it up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator and slowly enjoy (most likely there’s none left after 2 days).
- 300g Cucumber – cut lengthwise 1½ inch
- 150g Cabbage – roughly cut into big pieces
- 50g Carrot – peeled and cut into 1½ inch
- 50g Long Beans – cut into 1½ inch
- 50g Roasted Peanuts – ground
- 2 tablespoon White Sesame Seeds – roasted
- 1 tablespoon Salt
- 1 tablespoon Sugar, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons Cooking Oil
- 50ml Rice vinegar
- 30ml Water
- 5 Shallots
- 6 fresh Red Chilies
- ½ inch Fresh Turmeric (or 1 teaspoon turmeric powder)
- 2 Candlenuts
- Mix all the vegetables with 1 tbs salt. Leave aside in a colander to dry excess liquid for about 30 minutes.
- Blend the spice paste in a food processor.
- Heat up the wok on medium heat. Add oil to stir-fry the spice paste until aromatic. Add vinegar and water, bring to boil. Add salt and sugar to taste.
- Turn off fire, add all vegetables, ground peanuts, sesame seeds & sugar into the wok and stir well.
- Dish out, let it cool to store in a jar or container. It can be served immediately but acar taste best overnight after the flavours have developed.
- Keep chilled in the fridge. It can last for at least 4 weeks.