Penang Acar | Penang Achar (Penang Spicy Pickled Vegetables)


Penang Acar | Penang Achar (Penang Spicy Pickled Vegetables)

Penang Acar (also spelled as Achar) is a very special pickled vegetable dish. I think every Penangite loves it because of the appetizing, sour and spicy great taste. Who wouldn’t? There’s this lady at the pasar (wet morning market) near my Penang childhood home that sells mouth watering acar. Besides buying from the pasar, many economy rice vendors also include acar into their dishes. Maybe that’s the reason why my Mama never made acar before.

Penang Acar | Penang Achar (Penang Spicy Pickled Vegetables)

As usual, I was not aware of the origin of Penang dishes, including Penang Acar. As long as they taste good, it just goes into my tummy. But now it’s good to come to my knowledge that Penang Acar is a Penang Peranakan Nyonya dish when I decide to attempt it for Chinese New Year earlier this year. Now this Penang gal knows a bit more. This dish can be prepared a few days ahead, so it’s 1 less dish to prepare for the big feast. Alas my “blur-ness” during the preparation had me adding  double amount of the vinegar than recommended. The extreme sourness + the chilli = heat gone through the roof! Luckily none of my relatives noticed that as they seem to enjoy the dish.

Penang Acar | Penang Achar (Penang Spicy Pickled Vegetables)

Be prepared for a lot of slicing action (it’s a good practice of your knife skills). The recipe postsed here is adapted from the recipe I found here. I decided to seasoned the vegetables with some salt first to retain crunchiness texture, as I’m a gal who likes some crunch in my food. As with most spicy dish, Penang acar tastes better when the pickle is left overnight to allow all spice ingredients to mingle. You can keep it up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator and slowly enjoy them (most likely there’s none left after 2 days).

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest, Penang Month hosted by Alan of Travellingfoodies

5.0 from 3 reviews
Penang Acar | Penang Achar (Penang Spicy Pickled Vegetables)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Penang Acar | Penang Achar (Penang Spicy Pickled Vegetables) - appetizing, sour & spicy appetiser
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Malaysian
Serves: 500g
  • 300g Cucumber - cut lengthwise 1½ inch
  • 150g Cabbage - roughly cut into big pieces
  • 50g Carrot - peeled and cut into 1½ inch
  • 50g Long Beans - cut into 1½ inch
  • 50g Roasted Peanuts - ground
  • 2 tablespoon White Sesame Seeds - roasted
  • 1 tablespoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Sugar, or to taste (or sweetener of choice)
  • 3 tablespoons Cooking Oil
  • 50ml Rice vinegar
  • 30ml Water
Spice Paste
  1. Mix all the vegetables with 1 tbs salt. Leave aside in a colander to dry excess liquid for about 30 minutes.
  2. Blend the spice paste in a food processor.
  3. Heat up the wok on medium heat. Add oil to stir-fry the spice paste until aromatic. Add vinegar and water, bring to boil. Add salt and sugar to taste.
  4. Turn off fire, add all vegetables, ground peanuts & sesame seeds into the wok and stir well.
  5. Dish out, let it cool to store in a jar or container. It can be served immediately but acar taste best overnight after the flavours have developed.
  6. Keep chilled in the fridge. It can last for at least 4 weeks.



  1. Hi Shannon,
    Can you please tell me if your achar can be frozen or not?

  2. I made your achar it was delicioussssh I am from Penang now living in Glasgow Scotland,for the last 41yrs.Refused to give up my Malaysian passport so to renew my passport I have to go London,while I was there with my partner we went to China Town for lunch I had nasi lemak with a spoonful of achar.when I got Home i used my granddaughter’s IPad and googled for recipe Penang achar I picked your recipe I made first time in my life and thank God I did,now I made your salted egg.Thank you so so much for making a old lady very happy.

  3. Hi Shannon,

    Thank you so much for your recipe 🙂
    I’m from Singapore but have been living in Tasmania for many years.

    I have been wanting to make achar for such a long time.

    Finally, I have gained enough confidence to try it – and it worked!
    Thanks to you.

    My mum always made delicious achar – and she usually adds a bit of ginger and shallots (sliced) as well. She doesn’t include cabbage.

    I added a tiny bit of ginger – tastes good.

    Pushpa 🙂

    • Hi Puspa, glad you get to have achar after a long time. well done. I haven’t tasted Singapore version of achar, maybe there is ginger and shallots added. Adding cabbage is my mom’s trick. every household might have different recipes too 😀

  4. Hi hi Shannon 🙂 Wanna thank you so much for sharing this amazing achar recipe! I am a Singaporean transplanted to Canada and I was craving achar so much that I decided to make it myself. I found your recipe and it is so good that it reminds me of the homemade achar that I used to enjoy as a kid! I didn’t have all the ingredients and I added pineapples which I love! Thanks for sharing your passion for real food and letting me enjoy a taste of home! Much appreciation 🙂

    • Hi Shai, glad you found and tried the achar recipe. Good to know it’s rather similar to the Singapore version 😀 Pineapples would indeed make a great addition to the acar. Just thinking about it now makes me crave for it. Haven’t made this in a while, time to make it soon 😀

  5. Hi Shannon,
    I have an acar recipe from my auntie that includes raw papaya and bunga kantan which gives the aromatic smell. However all the ingredients are sliced and sun-dried beforehand so that it will soak up the spices gravy fully.
    Justin S

    • Dried raw papaya and bunga kantan? that’s really interesting and sounds delicious! I love both the ingredients. Thanks so much for sharing Justin!

  6. Pingback: Recipe – Achar (Nonya Spicy Mixed Vegetables) | News360 | Australias best News | News360ComAu

  7. Pingback: Malaysian Food Fest Penang Month Round-Up | travellingfoodies

  8. Shannon, I love Penang Acar! I can just eat it by the bowls 🙂
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  9. Never heard of penang before this post – but I will certainly be making this recipe. Great photos and post! Thanks!

  10. Look at all of those veggies!!!! Love it! This is definitely a recipe I would enjoy. Love the sweet and spicy and then the sour from the vinegar. Delicious!

  11. I love sour spicy dish. This acar looking great! The best part is can keep longer and enjoy!

  12. Shannon, I like Penang Achar. In fact, my neighbor just gave me one bowl last week. This Achar is slightly differently from Sarawak Achar and for me, this is called fresh achar and Sarawak achar is called preserved achar which can kept for months with lots of vinegar. How do you serve your achar. In Sarawak, during Chinese new year, we like to crunch the acar with keropok, is this the same as in Penang? BTW, is your post a post? Nice post

    • Hi Kenneth, thanks for introducing Sarawak Achar to me. I’ve never come across it yet, didn’t know there’s achar in Sarawak. From the recipes I found online, there’s a lot of vinegar & sugar in it. In Penang, we eat achar mostly with rice, throughout the year, not just special occasion.
      Yup, My blog is created with wordpress.
      Thanks for dropping by

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