Patsy Ong has generously shared her special family recipe for Achar – a true heritage dish to many Nyonya Singaporeans to the Dads for Life Toolbox website.
“This recipe was passed down to me from my mother. My mother used to make it all the time but I only have the time to make it during Chinese New Year and I have been making it ever since my mother passed away. I will usually make a huge batch and give them away to my brothers (I am the only one who knows the recipe) who love it and we use the achar to reminisce about our mother and her cooking. This recipe is sacred to us because we don’t know any other achar recipe that uses peanut and sesame candy. Even though these candies are quite hard to find, they make the achar authentic.”
500g cauliflower, trimmed into little florets
500g cabbage (approx 1 head), cut into about 3cm by 3cm pieces
1kg cucumber, deseeded and cut to finger length (if possible, leave out to strain moisture)
1kg carrot, cut to finger length
To make pickling mixture:
3-4 tbsp turmeric
2-3 tbsp galangal
3 tbsp belachan
1½ bottle Chinese vinegar
1 cup sugar
To make sauce to mix with pickling mixture:
1 cup peanut candy sticks
1 cup sesame candy sticks
1½ cup grounded dried prawns
Blend all pickling mixture ingredients except for the Chinese vinegar and sugar.
Cook the blended mixture over a low fire.
Grind the peanut and sesame candy sticks.
Once cooked, add in the vinegar and ground peanut and sesame mixture.
Add sugar and dried prawns.
Gradually add all the vegetables in and stir well.
Once everything is stirred in and mixed well, turn off the heat and let the achar sit in the wok for another half hour to rest.
Scoop achar into another big pot and let it rest for another half an hour before spooning it into bottles or containers.
Let those cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.
Serve the next day.
Adapted from an article first published on 1 May 2013 on the Dads for Life Toolbox website.