In my trip to Ipoh last month, I had my eye out for ikan bilis (dried anchovies) because they aren’t fresh or cheap (enough) in Singapore. They’re a great source of calcium and to make stock. My aunts upon hearing my thoughts, went to buy a big pack of them for me.
I’ve since found a super easy recipe for fried anchovies from this site (non-spicy version). I’ve made it thrice, making each batch when the prior one finishes so that I always have some in the fridge for me to dig into. I either reduce the amount of brown sugar or up the amount of anchovies (because The Mister doesn’t like his food too sweet), and so it becomes just right for us when it still has its savoury fishy taste. I also like its chewy texture than the hard crunchy texture from it being deep fried in oil.
Half a cup of anchovies typically last for less than 3 days, depending on how quickly I finish it. I don’t want to make a large batch at one go for fear of it sitting too long in the fridge and because The Mister is particular about eating fresh food.
The only tedious part about making these fried anchovies is the cleaning of the anchovies. I don’t like the idea of eating its black guts so I take time to peel its head and guts one by one, which half a cupful can take up to 30 minutes or so. I end up doing it while watching some Korean drama so it makes me feel super housewife-ish!
The Mister also says it’s much better than the regular Korean restaurant we go to and he isn’t saying it because he has too! The Korean restaurants we go to here seem to over-fry them or the quality of the anchovies aren’t great.