Acar-awak is a classic Nyonya or Peranakan accompaniment that is commonly found on the Nyonya dinner table. Nyonya acar, in particular, is very elaborate - much more so than their Malay counterpart. The Penang Acar-awak showcases the degree of extra attention and refinement that has become the hall mark of the Nyonya kitchen. It makes a good vegetable dish for a party and keeps well in the refrigerator. You can make it in smaller quantities as a side dish for a family meal.

Ingredients :

  • 200g Fresh cucumber cut into 4 lengthwise, seeds removed (Do not peel)
  • 200g Carrot, cut into thin strips
  • 200g Cauliflower or cabbage
  • 200g Long beans or green beans
  • 200g Egg plant or aubergine
  • 6 stalks Shallots, sliced
  • 5 cloves Garlic, sliced
  • 3 pieces Red chillies, seeded and cut into 4 lengthwise
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Peanuts, unsalted and roasted
  • 1/4 cup Sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup White vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • Salt

Ingredients for Spice Paste
  • 10 pieces Dried chillies, seeded, soaked in warm water till soft and squeezed dry
  • 1 piece Shrimp paste (roasted), approx. 2.5 x 2.5cm cube
  • 4 pieces Candlenuts, smashed
  • 4 cm Fresh turmeric, chopped
  • 1 piece Galangal, chopped (approx. 4cm long)
Method :
  1. The vegetables need to be cut into single manageable pieces.
  2. Remove excess moisture from the cucumber by salting the cut pieces in a colander and allow to drain for ½ hour. Rinsing the contnets under the tap and draining. Pour the pieces onto a sheet of kitchen tissue and place another sheet on top. Press to remove excess water.
  3. Blanch each vegetable separately in boiling salted water for 1 minute.
  4. Lift out each batch, draining thoroughly then dry them on a kitchen towel, spreading them out to dry further while the cucumbers are draining.
  5. Prepare the spice paste by pounding the spices. Then dry fry until fragrant. Add the vinegar, sugar and salt and boil.
  6. Roughly crush the peanuts and set aside.
  7. Dry roast the sesame seeds in pan, cool and set aside.
  8. Fry the garlic and shallots in hot oil until golden brown and set aside.
  9. Add the shallots and garlic  with the vegetables and the spice mixture and stir until everything is well mixed. The vegetables should be cooked minimally and still have their crunch..
  10. Allow to cool. Add peanuts and sprinkle on the sesame seeds just before serving.