Sunday, July 6, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Nyonya Achar (Singapore-style Refrigerator Pickles)

Zach loves pickles and is always coming up with new and interesting ways to make his own. This year alone, we've probably eaten over 10 pounds of pickled beets! And there's also the pickled cabbage that he loves to make when we have tacos for dinner ... we've probably also eaten 10 pounds of that! Since pickles are a staple in our kitchen, I approached my mom for a mixed pickled vegetables recipe (known locally as achar) that we can easily replicate in the U.S. 

1 large cucumber
1/2 of a cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cup of shredded cabbage
1 medium carrot, cut into fine strips
1/2 cup pineapple, chopped (optional; use this if you like your pickles on the sweeter side)
1 medium green papaya, skinned, finely grated, and dried in the sun (optional)
2 tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped finely
2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water

Spice Paste
2-3 shallots
1 slice ginger
4-6 fresh red chilies
2-3 macadamia nuts
1 tsp ground tumeric 
1 tbsp sugar (or to taste)

Wash the cucumber, remove seeds and soft centers but leave the skin intact. Cut into thin strips. 
Sprinkle some salt over the cucumbers and leave them for at least 1/2hr to sweat; then rinse, drain, and squeeze dry. Set aside.
Wash cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, then lay them out to dry (either in the sun or in the oven over low heat). Do not skip this step if you want to keep the crispness of the vegetables!
Using a food processor, blend together the ingredients for the spice paste.
With a little bit of oil, stir-fry spice paste over medium high heat until fragrant. Let cool.
In the meantime, combine vinegar and water with 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, and bring to a boil. Let cool.
In a large bowl, mix together vegetables, vinegar, spice paste, pineapples, shredded green papaya, peanuts and sesame seeds.
Cover and refrigerate overnight (or a day or 2!) for flavors to develop.

You may store pickles (in air-tight jars) in the refrigerator for up to a month.

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