Mixed vegetable relish

Mixed vegetable relish

Acar awak or penang acar

South East Asian Food

Acar Awak shows the degree of extra attention and refinement that became the mark of the Nyonya kitchen. It makes quite a good vegetable dish for a party and keeps well in the refrigerator. Of course you can make it in smaller quantities as a side dish for a family meal.


Quantity Ingredient
300g cucumber
or 3 small lebanese cucumbers
200g cauliflower or cabbage
200g carrot
200g long beans or stringless green beans
200g cigar-shaped eggplant
3 red chillies, cut into four lengthwise, seeds removed
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 shallots, sliced
5 small garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 1/2-2 tablespoons sugar
salt, to taste
1/4 cup water

Paste spices

Quantity Ingredient
10 dried chillies, seeded soaked in warm water until soft and then squeezed dry
2.5 x 2.5cm slice shrimp paste, roasted in foil, (optional)
4 candlenuts, smashed
4cm fresh turmeric, chopped
or 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
4cm galangal, chopped


  1. Cut cucumbers into four lengthwise and remove seeds. Do not peel them. Cut all the vegetables into 4 x 1 cm strips (or florets in the case of cauliflower). Put the cucumber strips into a strainer, salt them, place a weight on top and leave to drain for 30 minutes or so. Heat a saucepan of salted water to boiling point and blanch, in separate batches, the carrot, beans, eggplant and cauliflower for about a minute. Lift out each batch, draining thoroughly then dry them and the chillies well on a clean teatowel, spreading them out to dry further while the cucumbers are draining. When the cucumbers are ready, rinse off the salt and thoroughly dry them with paper towels.
  2. Make the spice paste by pounding the spices. Roughly crush the peanuts and leave aside. Roast the sesame seeds in a dry pan, cool, and leave aside.
  3. Heat a little oil in a wok and fry the shallots and the garlic until golden brown. Remove, drain and set aside. Fry the spice paste until light brown and fragrant. Add the vinegar, sugar and salt to taste and bring to the boil. Add the shallots and the garlic and all the vegetables, and stir until everything is mixed and the vegetables are cooked but still crisp. Allow to cool to room temperature and mix in the peanuts. Sprinkle on sesame seeds before serving.
  4. Serve as a side dish or as a flavourer with a plate of plain rice. The pickle will keep in a covered dish in the refrigerator for a few days.
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