Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Recipe - How To Make Crispy Ikan Bilis (Anchovies)

This humble ikan bilis (anchovies) may be a tiny fish but it is packed with nutrients. It has iron, calcium (credit to the bones) and omega-3 fatty acids. One good thing it has over other fish is that its life cycle is short, so it is less prone to heavy metal contamination such as mercury.

The bad thing is that the sodium content is high. Most ikan bilis are prepared at sea and sun dried. They are not washed with fresh water before they are dried, so they tend to be salty. To lower the salt content, wash with fresh water. But there are some that may not be so salty. It all depends on the source.

They are available at the markets with or without bones. As a principle, the fairer they are, the better.

Ikan bilis have potent flavour. They can be used to make stock or fried with vegetables for their flavour.

In this recipe, I am going to make them crispy using the microwave. Crispy ikan bilis are flavourful and also very versatile. They can be eaten on its own or as a garnishing for a variety of dishes, like fried rice, porridge or fish head bee hoon soup. A very popular way to eat this crsipy ikan bilis is to mix them with fried chilli paste as in nasi lemak or even plain rice.

To make crispy ikan bilis, lay a handful of ikan bilis, about 50 grams, on a plate. Rinse with fresh water if you do not like the salt.  Add a finely chopped garlic for flavour. For added flavour, I sprinkle a teaspoon of oil. Microwave on high for 1 minute and it should be done.

Note: This 1 minute timing is for ikan bilis without rinsing. If you rinse the ikan bilis, you may have to add more time. The timing also depends on the quantity of ikan bilis, how dry they are and also the power of the microwave. Always start with about 1 minute and add increments of 20 to 30 seconds to make sure the ikan bilis are not burnt.

This 3 minute video shows how to make Sambal Ikan Bilis or Ikan Bilis With Chilli Paste using the frying method.

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