There are many variations of acar, which is a sort of pickling the vegetables, usually with vinegar, salt and water (or brine).  The acar I was accustomed to was the localised version with more pungent flavours that would linger in our memory and tastebud for a long, long time.

As far as I could remember, the pickled cucumbers I grew up snacking were most popularly served at festive occasions, in particular, the Chinese New Year. I had mentioned in my post here, that this morsel of a dish is one of my many favourites.  Here’s how I like to nibble on my acar timun 😀

Acar Timun + Keropok = Marriage made in Heaven :-D

Acar Timun + Keropok = Marriage made in Heaven 😀

Those schoolgirl days…

I remembered having to rush after school, on the third day of Chinese New Year, house visiting my Chinese schoolmates and relatives.  I remembered my cousin and I eyeing for Aunt Maureen’s delicious acar chilli nyonya, stuffed with the most delicious and tasty filling of sundried grated young papaya, green chillies, dried shrimps and all the spices and pickling ingredients. Mmmmm….. yummy!

Then there’s the acar timun, which incredibly go so well with prawn crackers (keropok).  We were one satisfied customer and nothing else mattered, so to speak…

The crisper the better… S.W.A.T … and a miracle…

Making acar timun is not that simple as you think. It involves a whole lot of “physical” energy and strength.  A connoisseur of the finest tasting acar timun could distinguish between a top notch nosh and a badly made one.

The crisper the vegetables the superior the taste of the acar timun” seemed to be the chanting phrase from any acar timun addict.

To make the crispy effect, the vegetables need to be cut in strips or julienned and then sprinkled with some salt and let stand in a colander for at least 2 hours or until the vegetables become limp and water dripping from the colander.  The subsequent step involved S.W.A.T – Special “Weapon” And Tactics.

I have heard of several artistic ways of making the vegetables crispy.  One of my classmates Mum actually used the back tyres of her car to squeeze out the excess water from the salted vegetables, but of course packed in strong tea towels or even sarongs! The more common method is simply drying the vegetables under very hot sun, and making sure that every portion is tossed and turned to completely dry out the vegetables.

And by the way, my S.W.A.T is my bare hands.  I must have soiled and damaged at least two new tea towels. LOL

The chilli. The salt. The onion, garlic. OMG!  My hands were screaming for life.  If you’re at it, there was no turning back.  I could use a pair of gloves, but I did not, however, a miraculous thing happened to me. A wart that I had since I was a child on one of my fingers was completely gone as a result of the wringing madness.  I kid you not!

Here’s my version of Acar Timun (Pickled Cucumber) adapted from the cookbook “Traditional Malaysian Cuisine:  A Rich Selection in Culinary Heritage”

2. Acar Timun_Traditional Malaysian Cuisine

Ingredients –

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 8 dried chillies
  • 8 shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cm piece ginger
  • 3 candlenuts
  • ½ cup dried shrimps
  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ cup vinegar (I used the Chinese white wine vinegar, to taste)
  • 3 ½ Tbsp sugar (to taste)

Method –

  • Cut cucumbers and carrot into 2 ½ cm strips. Cut the red chillies into 5 cm strips and the large onion into 5 cm wedges.
  • Sprinkle salt over the cut vegetables and let them stand for at least 2 hours.
  • When the vegetables are limp, wash away the salt and spread them on a clean tea towel in a cool place to dry. (After which I wring out the excess water with my bare hands)
  • Grind together the chillies, shallots, garlic, ginger and candlenuts.  Pound the dried prawns.
  • Heat the oil and fry the mustard seeds for ½ minute before adding in the ground ingredients and turmeric powder. Fry for another 5 minutes.
  • When the oil separates, add in the dried prawns and continue cooking for another 3 minutes before adding the vinegar and sugar.
  • Cook slowly until the mixture is fairly thick. Add in more salt and sugar if necessary.
  • Stir in the prepared vegetables and toss quickly to mix well. When the vegetables are well mixed with the spices, remove the pan from the heat.
  • Cool slightly before storing in clean, dry jars. (I used sterilized airtight jars)


Chinese rice wine vinegar (white)

Chinese rice wine vinegar (white)

Evenly cut strips of cucumbers and carrot

Evenly cut strips of cucumbers and carrot

Salted strips of cucumbers, carrot, onion, garlic and chilli. Let stand for at least 2 hours

Salted strips of cucumbers, carrot, onion, garlic and chilli. Let stand for at least 2 hours

Wash away salt. Squeeze and wring out excess water.

Wash away salt. Squeeze and wring out excess water.

Cooked spiced ingredients

Cooked spiced ingredients

Toss in wringed dried vegetables

Toss in wringed dried vegetables

Stir and mix well with the cooked spiced ingredients.  That's it!

Stir and mix well with the cooked spiced ingredients. That’s it!

My acar timun - the way I like it.  YUMMY :-P

My acar timun – the way I like it. YUMMY 😛

To end my “GINGER” post for the blog hop-over event, I am submitting this write-up to the following –


Cook Your Books

See you soon 😉


  1. Zoe says:

    I’m a big fan of acar!!! Once I start eating it, I can’t stop.

    Wow! that your SWAT method sounds pretty lethal to your tea towels… I reckon you must have very strong arm muscles :p I made mine once by sunning them on a hot 40 deg day… lazy me using the sun to do all the hard work :p


  2. The word “acar timun” already making my saliva glands working overtime! Haha! I love acar!
    Tyres? Seriously! Haha!
    This looks delicious! I could even eat a bowl of this on its own!
    And yes, have no eaten this with prawn crackers for ages! My in-laws used to make a similar acar and they would eat it cold straight out from the fridge with prawn crackers, where I prefer to eat it at room temperature.

    Thanks for sharing with CYB!

  3. Nasifriet says:

    Ha ha ha! Indeed, I completely ripped off my poor tea towels! I guess that came with the salt reaction as well 😀
    Strong arms? Erm… not sure. I had to squeeze out the excess water twice. Lucky you with such weather in OZ. Then again I won’t dare dry the veg under the sun here, for fear of birds’ shit. LOL! They seem to know where to find their targets…. Ha ha ha

  4. Nasifriet says:

    Re the “tyres” story, that was actually an alternative way. My friend’s Mum had meant to dry the veg under the sun that time but as there was hardly any sun and it was drizzling and raining then, she came with the thought of drying out the veg under the tyres, instead. And you know what? It worked a charm 😀

    Yup, acar and keropok, best combination ever 😉

  5. Just by looking at the list of ingredients, I know this acar is going to be full of flavour! Brilliant idea to eat with the crackers! I like!

  6. Nasifriet says:

    Agreed! And not forgetting the GINGER 😀

  7. Gerald Harry says:

    Can you courier one bottle for your abang here… 😀 Lau-nua… good with any keropok. (y) anyway, just kidding about the courier. Cheers!

  8. Nasifriet says:

    No worries, bro. Will make this when you come visit us. I can use a pair of strong arms 😀

  9. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks Ivy and welcome to my space 😀

  10. Perpetua says:

    Cuz, me mum would put crash Tao pang (candid peanut). Thanxx for the recipe xx

  11. Nasifriet says:

    Hey cuz, good to read you 😀
    Oh I never tried that, but I know aunty Ah Yong was a great cook. I had put roughly chopped roasted peanuts and they taste great, too. Sesame seeds do well, as well.

    You back already from your hols?
    Take care and hope to read you more often 😉

  12. Shelley says:

    I have tried a few acar recipes and this the best so far. Some of my friends even asked for the recipe. I am going to make this again tomorrow for a potluck this coming saturday.
    Thanks for the lovely recipe.

  13. Nasifriet says:

    Hi Shelley, nice to read you here AND thanks for the compliment😊

    I absolutely agree with you. This recipe is a keeper and I’m glad your friends love it as well. Now, you’re reminding me to make this acar again 😜

    Cheers and have a wonderful potluck this Saturday!

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