Ikan bilis are dried anchovies, small ones and fried crisp. In the picture above, I have bought the smallest one I can find, because I like the crunchy texture these give. It’s a versatile fish, you can use it in a variety of ways. They are great as a snack – I rarely fry a big bunch of ikan bilis and store them in an airtight container. I always end up frying them with some sambal and peanuts and/or just snacking on them! Crunchy and full of yummy umami flavours these are my one of my go-to ingredients when I am feeling a bit homesick and craving for good Malaysian fare (which happens often, I must say). I add them to fried rice, mix it with sambal and eat it with ulam, even as a garnishing for simple ramen noodles.
I have to say, soak them first, not only because I am a clean freak but also to get rid of the excess salt and any other preservatives that may have been used during packaging.
- Soak the anchovies in water, and wash until the water runs clean. Drain, and air dry. I usually scatter the small fish on a paper towel and let it sit on the kitchen counter. Or you can pat it dry.
- Heat oil in a frying pan. Deep fry the fish until it turns golden brown.
- Drain the cooked fish onto a paper towel to drain off the excess oil.
- Store in an airtight container.
- I mix it up with peanuts to make the Kacang Ikan Bilis (Anchovy and Peanut) mix for Nasi Lemak.
- I add it as one of the last ingredients in my version of Nasi Goreng Ulam Kerabu (Fragrant Herbs Fried Rice)