when baking, follow directions.. when cooking, go by your own taste.. ~ Laiko Bahrs
this is the third and final entry for the nasi minyak series..
i always feel that nasi minyak is somehow incomplete without a side serving of acar or pickled vegetable/fruit..it can be either acar timun or nanas/pickled cucumber or pineapple..with acar timun, it’s usually plain pickled, with just white vinegar, sugar and a teeny bit of salt..as for acar nanas, it’s normally briefly cooked in a savoury pickle sauce using chilli sauce, chilli paste, a teeny bit of vinegar and seasonings..
i LOVE pickled cucumber..i can eat it with white rice and curry, just like that..i can even munch on it on its own, savoring the sweet and tart flavors dancing on my tastebuds..sometimes, i even eat it with homemade burgers..just arrange a few pieces in between meat patty and the rest of the stuff..it gives a lovely tart tang that nicely balances everything out..
now, it doesn’t really take a genius to know how to make acar timun/pickled cucumber..it’s so easy to whip up (i think i’m starting to overuse this phrase already!) and needs just a few ingredients which can easily be found in the pantry..white vinegar, sugar, salt, and kapur sirih..
kapur sirih, or limestone paste, or slaked lime is basically a form of calcium carbonate..it’s mainly used prior to pickling vegetables and fruits, and also in cooking..for example, in making kuih or sweet cakes (makes the resulting kuih feel springy when touched), and mixed in batter for frying..using a bit of kapur in wet batter helps to get really crispy fried batter..this is how those pisang goreng/fried banana sellers get their batter so crispy..a small jar like the one in the photo above cost me less than RM1 (less than USD0.30) and a small jar like that goes a long way too..
oh, did i mention that it’s good for our bones? but do remember, taken in excess is not good either..over-consumption may cause formation of gall stones in the bladder..so, take it in moderation..and drink lots and lots of water daily..water helps flush out toxins that accumulate in the body, remember that!
i soaked the cucumber and other vegetable slices in water mixed with some kapur sirih before pickling them..doing this helps to crisp the vegetables up..if you’re from Kuala Terengganu, you know how refreshingly crunchy those slivers of grated young papaya meat in rojak betik are? well, this is how it got that way..however, you can skip this step altogether if you don’t have any kapur sirih in hand..
now, first thing you’ll need for this recipe is of course cucumbers..
you know how it is when sometimes you bite into a piece of cucumber and it’s so bitter? i hate it when that happens..so, my mom taught me a simple yet effective way to prevent that..
first, clean the cucumber by gently scrubbing the skin off any dirt under running water..next, slice off a bit of the top end of the cucumber..then, rub both cut surfaces against each other vigorously for a few minutes..you’ll see some white foam start to collect around the cut edges..that’s the thing that makes a cucumber taste bitter..rubbing the two cut surfaces together kinda ‘forces’ the foamy thing out..then, wash it away under running water and the cucumber is ready..
above are photos showing how i get rid of the seeds, and then cut and slice the cucumber into thin, short slices..
i like to use other vegetables for acar timun as well..one of them is red onion..i like to slice it really thin, so that it’ll look really delicate and light tossed together with the rest of the ingredients..
i also used red chilli for this recipe..it doesn’t make the pickle spicy or anything, i just added it for its vibrant red color..julienne it, or cut it into thin rounds, it’s all up to you, really..
i normally add finely julienned ginger too, but i ran out of ginger that day, so had to make do without it..
next thing to do is to toss the sliced vegetables together, and then soak them for about half an hour, submerged in water mixed with some kapur sirih/slaked lime..again, this is to crisp the vegetables up..you’ll get a good crunch out of them upon first bite..
then, drain the vegetable slices off the soaking mixture and place them in a glass or ceramic container..prepare the pickling solution with water, white vinegar, sugar and a bit of salt..let the sugar and salt dissolve in the water and vinegar mixture before pouring it all over the vegetable slices..
stir around a bit, to mix the whole thing well and leave it to begin its pickling process for a few hours..you can store it in the fridge right away too..
Acar Timun / Pickled Cucumber