I remembered this time last year I was slaving over the stove, preparing a really elaborate dinner of shrimp bisque, beef wellington with truffle mash and lemon fool. This year, however looks to be a quiet one with just me, hubby and dog when plans were changed but today we are blessed with Chef Yaqian who is coming over to cook us a Chinese new year's dinner :). Blaming it on the pregnancy, I can't contribute much except making a White Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake and this - acar!
Acar is something you get as a pickled side dish when you are at a Nonya resturant, or some chicken rice places serve it along with the rice. I wasn't a big fan of it until recently because I find them too sourish. Making it on my own however, I was able to balance the flavours until it is to my liking. I adapted this from Rasa Malaysia's recipe of Acar Awak, adapted mostly because I just wanted to keep it simple and also due to lack of ingredients. This works fine though (I feel) and I've made it like three times already.
1 large carrot, julienned
1/2 cucumber, julienned
1/2 pineapple, skinned and cut into quarters
2 chili padi
2 candle nuts
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2-3 teaspoons tamarind pulp
- Add about a teaspoon of salt to the cucumber and let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then squeeze off the excess water and set aside. This also helps to give them a bit of saltish taste, which I like. You can omit this step otherwise.
- Pound/process the shallots, chili and candle nut until they are pretty mashed up. Don't worry if it's a bit coarse, it will still work.
- Using a small pot or a pan, add a little oil and fry the pounded ingredients and turmeric powder until it is fragrant, this should take about 5-10 minutes over medium heat.
- Add about 100-150ml of water to the tamarind pulp and 'lather' the pulp until you get the tamarind water and add it to the pot/pan. Remember to sieve out the seeds and pulp!
- Season with sugar and salt according to your liking, it should be sourish-sweet with a tinge of saltiness. I add about 3-4 teaspoons of sugar and 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt normally. I like to taste my pineapples to see if they are sweet or sour and adjust the seasoning accordingly, and also remember if you have salted the cucumber, this will also come into play in balancing the flavors.
- Turn off the heat and add the cucumber, carrots and pineapples and mixed well.
- You can serve it immediately or let it cool and store in the fridge. If you have ground peanuts, they add a nice touch when you topped it up when serving.
And with that, the last post for 2011, I wish all readers a really blessed 2012 year ahead! 2011 has been really good for us and I know we are looking forward to new experiences, parenthood and abundant favor for the new year and I hope the same for each of you too!