Nyonya Vegetable Pickle

By Norman Musa From the book Amazing Malaysian
Nyonya Vegetable Pickle from Amazing Malaysian

When it comes to Malaysian pickles, I must say that the Nyonya kind are the best, partly due to the richness of the range of ingredients used. There is a good balance of vinegar and spiciness, and an array of beautiful textures and crunchiness from the vegetables and peanuts. You can keep this for up to 4 weeks in the fridge, but the longer you keep it, the more the vegetables will lose their crispness. Eat it as a condiment with rice. 

For how many? Serves 4-6


  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100g white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 150ml rice vinegar
  • 100g pineapple, cut into 2cm thick wedges
  • 150g peanuts, roasted and coarsely pounded
  • 4 tbsp sesame seeds (ideally 1 tbsp black and 3 tbsp white), roasted
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds, roasted
  • For the spice paste:
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (use the bottom part only)
  • 10 dried chillies, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes
  • 3 shallots
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2.5cm fresh turmeric
  • 2.5cm fresh galangal (or ginger)
  • 4 macadamia nuts
  • 1 1/2 tsp shrimp paste, dry-toasted
  • For the blanching:
  • 200ml vinegar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • For the vegetables:
  • 250g purple aubergines, cut into 5cm strips
  • 300g white cabbage, cut into 2cm wide pieces
  • 100g cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 100g carrots, peeled and cut into 5cm strips
  • 100g fine green beans, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 6 bird's-eye chillies
  • 500g cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into 5cm long strips


1. Blitz the spice paste ingredients in a food processor. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat and saute the spice paste for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the sugar and salt and cook for 1 minute, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the vinegar and give it a good mix, then turn the heat off and set aside. 

2. To blanch the vegetables, bring 600ml of water to the boil in a saucepan and add the vinegar, sugar and salt. Add the vegetables (apart from the cucumber - don't blanch this, as it will lose its crunchiness) and blanch for 10 seconds, until slightly wilted. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. 

3. Put the spice paste, the vegetables including the cucumber, the pineapple, peanuts, and sesame and coriander seeds in a glass bowl. Mix thoroughly, then transfer into a glass jar and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. 

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