J was having some craving for achar the other day. With the spare time we are having during Circuit Breaker, I have decided to try to make my own achar. Basically, when it comes to pickled cucumber, there are several recipes, the ang moh kind, the chinese ones and of course the Nonya achar. For this recipe, I am following the nonya ones.
There are basically 2 types of cucumber which are commonly found in the supermarkets in Singapore. I used the Japanese ones for this recipe as it is less bitter with lesser deverloped seeds.
Before we start, it is important to prepare the cucumber by removing the seeds and cut them into bite size. For 3 cucumbers, I have used 2 tsp salt to marinate them for 1 hour. This is to get rid of excess water as well as to give it that crunchy bite.
After an hour, rinse cucumber and drain them from excess water before spreading out cucumber on a baking tray to air dry them in the oven at very low heat. I use 35 degree here.
For the rempah, blend 6 shallots (skin removed), 1 clove of garlic (skin removed), 1 cm slice of ginger, 1-2 teaspoon ground turmeric (or 1cm slice of fresh turmeric), 3 dried red chillies, 3 birds’ eye chilli (add more if you prefer something more spicy) 1 tablespoon of belachan (fermented shrimp paste), you can find them in supermarket in a rectanglar block packaging) in a blender till smooth.
Stir fry the rempah with 2 tablespoons of oil over medium low heat till fragrant (about 10 to 15 min) before adding the 2 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, a pinch of sea salt taste. Remove from heat when it is reduced into a paste and let it cool.
Mix the rempah with the vegetables in a glass jug when the rempah is cool completely.
Allow the achar to be marinated overnight in the refrigerator before consuming. Store for about 4 weeks in the fridge.
Personally I find that the flavours of the achar are better after the vegetables have sat in the marinade for several days. As Asian, I love my food to be spicy so I have added more bird eyes chilli. If you can’t take spicy food, you can skip the bird eye chilli and just used the dried red chilli as those are not so spicy. If you want to add in carrot or cabbage, simply prepare it together with the cucumber using the same method. You can also add in canned pineapple as well. But remember to drain away the liquid in the can. Do give me your feedback on how you like this recipe. The shopping list is as follow –
1 clove of garlic
1 cm slice of ginger
1-2 teaspoon ground turmeric (or 1cm slice of fresh turmeric)
3 dried red chillies
5 birds’ eye chilli (add more if you prefer something more spicy)
1 tablespoon of belachan (dry fermented shrimp paste, rectangular block)
2 tablespoon (30g) of sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) rice vinegar
A pinch of sea salt taste
1 can pineapple