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Ikan Bilis Stock

Ikan Bilis Stock (Anchovies Stock)

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Making ikan bilis (anchovies) stock is fast and easy. Unlike making chicken or vegetable stock, you just have to simmer it for about 10-15 minutes; prolonged simmering is unnecessary and may result in a bitter taste.

See Also: Ikan Bilis Powder Recipe

A container of ikan bilis stock is handy to keep in the fridge for making porridge, as soup bases for dishes (such as spinach in superior stock) or noodles soup (such as mee suah soup and fish ball noodle soup).

Ikan Bilis (Anchovies)

Ikan Bilis (Anchovies)

The choice of ikan bilis is important. If you go to an Asian dried foods stall, you can ask the assistant which variety is the most ideal for stock making. I personally used the “Pangkor” variety which is good for soups. Wheras I use degutted ikan bilis for making ikan bilis powder, I use whole ikan bilis (head and tail in tact) for extra flavour in the soup stock.

Ikan Bilis Stock (Step-by-Step Photos)
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Rinsing Ikan Bilis (Anchovies)
Rinse the ikan bilis (anchovies) in a few changes of water. This will reduce the excess saltiness. Ikan bilis come in vary degrees of saltiness depending on the type you buy and as a general guide, I recommend rinsing them in two changes of water; but if your ikan bilis is the extra-salty variety, you may need another 1-2 rinses. At the same time, do not over-rinse the ikan bilis or the stock will taste bland.

Making anchovies (ikan bilis) stock
2. In a pot, bring water to boil. Add washed ikan bilis, red dates and ginger to the pot. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Do not simmer for too long or the broth may become bitter.

Making anchovies stock
3. Using a slotted ladle, remove ikan bilis, red dates and ginger. Strain the broth through a sieve. When the broth has cooled, transfer to a storing container.

Leave a Comment

86 Responses to “Ikan Bilis Stock”

  1. Min — April 14, 2010 @ 12:19 am

    when i buy from the market.. i will tell the auntie that i don’t want the “head and the tail” for the ikan bilis. and i think should be one of the expensive grades of anchovies.

    i also boil them with yellow beans (80% soaked yellow beans, 20 % ikan) as yang tau foo soup base


    • wiffy replied: — April 14th, 2010 @ 9:10 am

      Thanks for the tip Min! really appreciate it. Now I know what type of anchovies to buy next time :)

      How long did u soak the yellow beans? I’d like to try it for my ytf soup next time :)


  2. Min — April 14, 2010 @ 10:19 am

    i normally soak the beans for 1 hr then i will pinch the ‘skin’ out.. but some say must soak overnight. i realise after adding YTF stuffs.. the soup is tasty enough after boiling the beans for about 30 min


  3. wiffy — April 14, 2010 @ 10:38 am

    Thank you so much for sharing Min, I can’t wait to try it out after I buy the anchovies :)


  4. kuriouskat — April 14, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

    what to do with the cooked ikan bilis and red dates? eat?
    fry with spinach? throw?


    • wiffy replied: — April 14th, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

      Hi, I throw them away.


  5. M. — April 28, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

    I’ve been searching for Pangkor ikan bilis for the longest time! Where did you manage to find it??


    • wiffy replied: — April 28th, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

      Hi, you’re from Singapore right? I found them at Fu Hua


  6. M. — April 28, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

    Yep, am from Singapore! Fu Hua….are you referring to a Chinese medical hall?


    • wiffy replied: — April 29th, 2010 @ 3:19 pm

      yes that’s the one! :)


      • M. replied: — April 29th, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

        Thanks a lot!!!

  7. Leh Hong — June 11, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

    I am very curious how the soup taste like , is it sweet or salty ?
    I never add red dates before.


    • wiffy replied: — June 11th, 2010 @ 9:52 pm

      Hi Leh Hong, it’s more of a stock than soup… I guess it’s more salty than sweet.


      • Leh Hong replied: — June 12th, 2010 @ 12:06 am

        Hi Wiffy,

        Thanks for your reply . I am reading your blog right now. There are so much things can learn from you. Thanks for your sharing .

  8. Evelyn — June 16, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

    I’ve always used the silver fish to make the soup stock for my 2 year old son. By the most expensive variety for the best quality.
    Thot it might be useful to some of you here. I don’t leave it floating on top of the water. I put it into one of those little bags meant for tea leaves and then throw it away when I’m done with it. Bags are available at Daiso, NTUC and cold storage supermarkets.


    • wiffy replied: — June 17th, 2010 @ 10:48 am

      Hi Evelyn, thanks for sharing. I’ve never used silver fish for my ikan bilis stock before … will try it out next time, sounds good :)


  9. Anyhow-Cook — June 21, 2010 @ 5:07 pm

    Yes use pangkor ikan bilis for boiling soup – that’s what my mum used to tell me also. She also said it’s best to dry fry the ikan bilis for a while, before actually using them to cook cos it will reduce the mercury found in them. The next time I’ll try adding red dates and ginger also. Thanks!


  10. cigi — July 26, 2010 @ 12:54 pm

    Hi Wiffy,

    I tried the receipe but it did not work for me. I cook the anchovies for 10 min, the broth was tasteless. I cook for another 20 min more then i tasted some saltiness from the anchovies. However there is no sweetness from the red dates at all. I cut open the red dates to try and they did taste sweet. Where did i go wrong? Was it my expectation?

    BTW, I am no cook. Very amateur… that’s why i am hunting around for easy receipe :)


    • wiffy replied: — July 26th, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

      hi cigi, sorry to hear that. What type of anchovies did you use? Can you ask the shop to recommend you the saltier types? because anchovies are supposed to be really salty.


      • cigi replied: — July 30th, 2010 @ 10:17 am

        I bought degutted anchovies fr a nearby Malay provision shop. I passed by Hock Hwa the other day and saw orignal and degutted anchovies on sale – but did not label Pangkor anchovies. Is that the type u refering to? thinking of trying again leh… what about red dates? normal ones? there is a type called 蜜枣, not that one?

        • wiffy replied: — July 30th, 2010 @ 11:36 am

          mine labelled Pangkor. Actually you can ask the Fu Hua salespeople to recommend, tell them you’re making anchovies stock. No, not 蜜枣. Just normal red dates. You can skip the red dates, it’s not supposed to make the soup really sweet because anchovies stock supposed to be a tad salty. The red dates just give a mild subtle aroma :)