Recently, I was asked to contribute a recipe for a pocket cookbook that was to accompany the latest issue of a food magazine. I submitted a recipe for my acar – Malay Vegetable Pickle – and as promised, once published, a copy of it was sent to me.
The Good – it was a collection of Malaysian recipes from such celebrity chefs as Rick Stein and Masterchef Australia winner Adam Liaw – so, I should be happy, right?
The Bad (in fact, horrible) – my recipe had been tampered with – one of the steps had been changed, which would FUNDAMENTALLY alter the taste of the final product. This was done without my knowledge, consultation or approval. Evidently, the food editor of this magazine had decided they knew my food better than I do.
Anyway, here is the recipe along with the instructions as they SHOULD have appeared.
Disclaimer – I’m a huge proponent of the ‘agak-agak’ (Malay for ‘estimating’) school of cooking.
Particularly with a dish like acar, where I don’t weigh the ingredients beforehand (eg. cabbages/carrots come in all different sizes after all) – do your own taste-testing and don’t be afraid to stray far from the amounts listed – DOUBLE or even TRIPLE the sugar/peanuts etc. if required –
2L white vinegar
2 cups water
1/4 cabbage, cut into 2cm strips
2 carrots, peeled, cut into thin 5cm-long sticks
4 cucumbers, pith removed, cut into thin 5cm lengths
1 cup snake beans, tips removed, cut into 5cm lengths
1 TBS salt
1 TBS turmeric powder
2 TBS chilli flakes
1 TBS minced garlic
3 TBS shrimp paste granules
1 cup sugar
2 cups skinless peanuts, roasted and crushed
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1. In a large pot, combine vinegar and water. Bring to a boil. (DO NOT add sugar to this mixture – for those who happen to have a copy of the cookbook at home)
2. Add cabbage, carrots, cucumber and snake beans (in this order) – then turn off the heat immediately.
3. Cover with lid for one minute. Strain liquid from pot and discard.
4. NOW add the damn sugar along with salt, chilli flakes, turmeric, garlic and shrimp paste. Mix well and adjust seasoning as required.
5. Add crushed peanuts and sesame seeds. Allow to chill before serving.
My Acar recipe as it appears in the cookbook.
Acar being made in my restaurant, post-blanching in vinegar solution. As you can see here, the sugar is added AFTER the liquid has been strained out.