I looked eagerly at the beautiful and colourful vegetables that was on my plate of “nasi lemak” (fatty rice). I had never came across such a dish before. Upon enquiring out of curiosity, I found out that it was some pickled vegetables known as “acar”.
As I have never tasted it before, I hesitated but was encouraged to give it a try. The moment I did, I knew there was no turning back. The pickled vegetables were so crunchy, slightly sourish, sweet and spicy at the same time. The explosive mix of flavours tantalizes and teases the tastebuds. It was incredibly appetizing! The only setback was the vegetables were cold and I love piping hot meals. I was advised to have the acar with a spoonful of steamed white rice. Hence, I got my first taste of having a combination of hot and cold food at the same time. From that moment onwards, I became a fan.
Since rice does not have much taste to it, the acar definitely is a good accompaniment. The warmth of the steamed white rice coupled with the coldness of the chilled acar makes every mouthful a delight.
The appetizing acar awak is ready to be served right after cooking. Pineapple or even brinjal can be added too, if you prefer. The pineapple adds a fruity and tangy node to the dish. If you cook a big batch, store them in a clean and dry airtight container. Can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Spicy Vegetables Relish is also known as: Acar Awak
Mix carrots and cucumber pieces with 2 tsp of salt. Store in the refrigerator. Boil a pot of water with 2 tsp of vinegar. Blanch cabbage and french beans. Remove from water once they are slightly wilted. Leave aside.
Preheat oven to 50 degrees Celcius. Dry carrots, cucumbers, cabbage and french beans with a paper towel. Optional: Add pineapples. Place all vegetables on a tray/baking pan and heat vegetables in the oven for 40 minutes.
Blend chillies, shallots, shrimp paste (belacan), galangal, garlic and lemongrass until smooth. Cook chilli paste with 2-3 tbsp of oil until fragrant/changes colour into a darker shade of red. Then, add 200 ml of water to the chilli paste along with the tamarind paste. Cook over medium heat. Once the paste begins to boil, lower the heat and add shrimp paste, sugar and vinegar.
Mix well before adding the crushed peanuts. Remove the pan of vegetables from the oven and add them to the pan of chilli paste. Mix well.
Serve or store it in a clean and dry bottle. If kept refrigerated, it can last up to one month.