My aunt (or Mak Cik in Malay) is well known for her Vegetable Acar (pronounced 'ut-char') which is pickled vegetables in a spicy, vinegary and sweet base. I like to eat it as a side dish when I eat plain chicken or beef ramen or sometimes just on it's own as a snack! Unlike the Korean Kimchi, this is not as pungent as it does not use garlic. Without the addition of the peanuts, the acar can actually last refridgerated for about 6 months (or about 1 week with the peanuts).
MAK CIK’S VEGETABLE ACAR
Makes about 8 – 10 20-oz jars
2 pounds (about 4-5) carrots, peeled and cut into 2”x1/8” sticks
3 pounds (about 6-7) pickling cucumbers, deseeded and cut into 2”x¼” sticks
4 pounds (1 large) cabbage, separate the leaves and cut into 2" squares
5 tbsp chili powder
4 stalks lemongrass
2 big onions
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp galangal powder
1 tbsp belacan powder
2 cups white vinegar
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
½ cup oil
1 cup ground roasted peanuts, optional
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, optional
To prepare the vegetables:
- Boil a big pot of water and add in ½ cup vinegar, ¼ cup sugar and 2 tbsp salt. Lower heat to simmer and blanch vegetables for 1 minute, a few handfuls at a time. Use a salad spinner to spin dry. Set aside.
For the spice mix:
- Finely grind the lemongrass and onions with ¼ cup water. Mix in the chili, turmeric, galangal and belacan powders.
- Heat ½ cup cooking oil, fry ground ingredients for spice mix for about 1 hour until fragrant and oil rises to the top. Add in vinegar, sugar and salt.
- Cool then add in the vegetables and the ground roasted peanuts if used. Mix well.
- Keep in clean jars for at least 1 day before eating.
- Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top before serving.