Vegetable pickle salad

Vegetable pickle salad

Leanne Kitchen

Technically a sweet, sour and spicy pickle from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, made from assorted vegetables and spices, we just love to eat acar as a salad. You are welcome to swap out the vegetables for varieties you prefer, or what’s in season. Ours is based on a Nonya version from Penang. You’ll find the pickle is better if left overnight, and you can easily halve the quantities to serve four.


Quantity Ingredient
2 lebanese cucumbers, halved lengthways and seeded
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 small carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
250g snake beans, trimmed and cut into 3 cm pieces
1/4 cabbage, tough outer leaves removed, cored and cut into 3 cm pieces
2 japanese eggplants, trimmed and cut into 1 cm thick rounds
8 red asian shallots, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
100ml white vinegar
55g caster sugar
50g roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
40g toasted sesame seeds, to serve


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon belacan (malaysian shrimp paste)
16 dried red chillies, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes, drained
8 candlenuts, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh turmeric
or 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons chopped fresh galangal

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
Fried nonya chicken
Sticky rice


  1. For the paste, wrap the belacan in foil. Heat a small, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, add the wrapped belacan then dry-fry for 2 minutes on each side, or until fragrant. Cool and unwrap then transfer to a food processor with the remaining paste ingredients and process until a coarse paste forms. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
  2. Cut the cucumbers into 2.5 cm thick slices, put in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Stand the colander over a sink for 20 minutes or until the cucumber has softened. Put the cucumber in a tea towel to dry any excess liquid.
  3. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the carrot and cook for 1–2 minutes or until just starting to soften. Remove using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander and drain well.
  4. Repeat with the beans, cabbage and eggplant, draining each well. Transfer the drained vegetables to a clean tea towel to absorb any remaining liquid.
  5. In a wok over medium heat, cook the paste, shallots and garlic in the oil, stirring constantly, for 2–3 minutes or until fragrant. Add the white vinegar, sugar and 80 ml water and bring to a simmer. Add the vegetables and toss to mix well. Cook, stirring gently to avoid breaking up the vegetables, for 3–4 minutes or until the vegetables are nearly cooked – they should still be a little crisp. Add the peanuts and cool to room temperature. Serve scattered with the sesame seeds. This salad will last about a week in the refrigerator.
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