A small bowl of appetising, yummy Nyonya Achar to be savoured with some rice
Hello there, dear friends
During hot and humid days, when appetites are poor and nothing seems to appeal to the taste buds, it is best to have something sour and spicy to get our appetites whetted. One of the best foods to have is the Nyonya Achar Awak or Nyonya Spicy Pickled Mixed Vegetables dish as its sourness, spicyness, sweetness, aroma and texture simply wake up the senses of our taste buds!
Last week, I had made some Achar to go with Nasi Lemak and here is my recipe. Be warned that the Achar is really sour and spicy and you may need to tone things down if you prefer not to have so much “zing” in your Achar.
Nyonya Achar Awak With A Zing
Ingredients to be washed and cut into 1 X 0.25 inch sticks -
4 medium cucumbers – unpeeled, quartered lengthwise, cut away the seed portion
3 carrots – unpeeled
5 long beans
10 french beans
1 small Beijing cabbage – cut into 1.5 inch squares (I prefer Beijing cabbage because the leaves are thicker and have more crunch, you can use the usual cabbage)
Ingredients to be blended together with enough water -
30 dried chili – washed and soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
10 chili padi or bird’s eye chili
5 fresh red chili
25 to 30 shallots, skin removed
6 to 8 cloves garlic, skin removed
10 candlenuts or buah keras
3 inch knob of fresh turmeric, skin removed, or 2 tbsp turmeric powder
2 inch knob of lengkuas or galangal or blue ginger
3 fat lemon grass or serai – use 1.5 inches of the bottom part only
3 tbsps toasted belacan or shrimp paste (**Tip - I usually buy 1 block of belacan and toast the whole thing in a non-stick pan until it becomes dry and grainy. Then I store the toasted belacan in a airtight bottle in the refrigerator, ready for use any time )
Other ingredients -
3 cups of white rice vinegar (I prefer Pearl River brand from China)
Juice of 5 key limes or 3 lemons (achar is more aromatic with this)
Sugar and Salt to taste
2 to 3 cups peanuts – toasted, skin removed and crunched with a rolling pin for rougher texture (don’t blend) (later, I’ll post about a simple method to de-skin toasted peanuts in a jiffy )
1 cup toasted sesame seeds
2 cups cooking or vegetable oil
1) Bring a pan containing about 1.5 litres of water, 1 cup vinegar, 2 tbsps salt and 2 sugar to a boil. Blanch for 1 minute the beans and cabbage, one type at a time. Remove with a slotted spoon, wipe away excess water with paper kitchen towels, and place in a baking tray. Dry under the fan or strong sunlight, about 1 hour or more.
2) Rub 3 tbsps of salt into the cucumber and carrot sticks in a large bowl. Set aside for about 2 hours. Rinse under tap water and wring vegetables dry with a clean tea towel.
3) Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients to be blended.
4) Fry the blended ingredients in oil in a large wok. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes for the spices to get aromatic, when it separates from the oil.
5) Add in 1 cup of vinegar, 2 tbsps salt and 2 tbsps sugar. Bring to a boil and turn off the fire immediately.
6) Add in the vegetables, starting with the carrots and beans and cabbage last. Mix thoroughly. Add in the lime or lemon juice.
7) Add in the toasted grounded panuts and sesame seeds. Don’t worry about the liquid coming out from the vegetables, the peanuts and sesame seeds will soak it up.
8 ) Mix achar thoroughly and adjust the taste to your preference by adding more vinegar, sugar and salt. I had used a total of 2 cups vinegar and an additional 5 tbsps of sugar in mine.
9) Place in a casserole or in clean bottles, and refrigerate. It tastes better overnight but if you were like me, impatient to taste it the same day, do wait for at least 2 hours or else, the beans will have no achar taste in them.
Bon Appetit! Let me know how your achar turns out if you do try this recipe, okay?
With best wishes,