Acar Timun (Spicy Pickled Cucumber)


I was never really fond of Acar when I was still living back home. It’s amazing what one will crave after years of not having it. This recipe is from one of my mom’s old Female Cookbooks and I have adapted it to my taste as well as availability of ingredients.

1 English cucumber (about 1 pound), halved, seeded, and sliced thin
1/3 carrot (about 1½ ounces), peeled and shredded
3 shallots (about 2½ ounces trimmed), sliced thin
2 chillies (I used Serrano peppers), halved
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic (about ½ ounce trimmed), minced
½-inch ginger (about 1/8 ounce trimmed), minced
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
5 teaspoons Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
5 whole macadamia nuts, grated
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seed

  1. Toss the vegetables (cucumber, carrot, and shallots) with ½ teaspoon salt and allow to sit in a colander for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Squeeze the vegetables to remove as much liquid as possible. Add the chillies, and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric powder, chili sauce, and macadamia nuts, and cook until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes). Add the salt, sugar, and vinegar, and cook until mixture thickens slightly and oil has separated from it (about 3-5 minutes). Transfer the mixture into a glass food storage container and cool.
  3. Once mixture is cool, add the vegetables and roasted sesame seed. Toss to combine. Acar does not need to be refrigerated and we typically serve it room temperature. I expect it would last longer if stored in the fridge but it never lasts long enough for us to find out. :D

Note: To get the garlic, ginger, and macadamia nuts finely minced/grated, I actually zested them with my Microplane zester. I would recommend using food handling gloves when squeezing the vegetables to remove excess moisture. This helps prevent your hand from smelling like shallots for the next 24 hours. If using food handling gloves, go ahead and add the halved chillies into the vegetable mix and squeeze them all together. Do not attempt to squeeze the chillies with your bare hand. I actually forgot and did just that and my hand was in agonizing, burning pain for 4 hours and was in fact still stinging even after 12 hours (but the pain was tolerable then). I could not believe how strong those Serrano peppers were. That was a lesson I will never forget.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

14 Replies to “Acar Timun (Spicy Pickled Cucumber)”

  1. will use your acar recipe this weekend. my first time…wish me luck!

  2. Good luck! I hope you and your family will like the acar as much as we do. :)Thanks for checking out my blog!Chris

  3. Hi,can you post the original ingredients needed to make the acar? Or can you email them to me. I'm desperate to make one and eat it with prawn crackers. Thanks!!

  4. Hi Effy! Thanks for stopping by! I'll be glad to email you the original recipe. Let me know how to get in touch with you…just send it through the comment section (I won't publish it).

  5. Acar with keropok is a distinctly Sarawakian dish! But I am wondering about the macadamia nuts. Is that part of the original recipe?

  6. Nate,The original recipe calls for candlenut, for which macadamia nut is a close substitute. I'll be glad to email you the original recipe if you're interested. Mine is a more simplified version (less work) but I think you'll find the taste acceptably close.

  7. […] we eat them with acar – a delicious cucumber pickle! What an awesome combination! Click here for the […]

  8. Lovely! I was just wondering about the recipe for acar. Yours looks very tasty!

    1. Thanks, Kelly! This is the kind of acar I grew up with back in Sarawak. Give it a try, you’ll love it! :D

      1. Yeap very similar to my Grandma’s (I’m from Sarawak too!)

        1. Didn’t know that. :D Whereabouts?

          1. Kuching and Sibu :)

  9. […] – Acar, traditionally (for my family anyway) served with shrimp/prawn crackers. Yum! Click here to get the […]

Leave a Reply to 2natlp Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.