Ikan Bilis Powder
One of most rewarding things about keeping a recipes blog is that I get to learn many neat tricks and tips from my readers. When I posted my recipe for ikan bilis (anchovies) stock a while back, a reader lynette shared this awesome idea:
“I hate the freezer space that the anchovies takes so I bake them and then use the blender to turn them into ikan bilis powder. It’s my secret ingredient to all my soups. A giant plastic bag turns into a handy small jar. We use the ikan bilis that has been cleaned (i.e. without the heads and entrails) as it has a lower cholesterol content but retains its calcium value.”
and then adding on to this comment, another reader jsager shared:
“With ikan bilis in powder form, there is no waste or boiled-out ikan bilis to throw away. More importantly, if the backbone has not been removed (as happens in some of the super clean ikan bilis you find in the stores nowadays), you will get a very healthy dose of good calcium, that most of us are short of.”
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I was sold. I embarked on making the ikan bilis powder with the help of my oven and electric grinder, finding the process satisfying and effortlessly easy. This is a great condiment for porridge (baby food!) and also a secret ingredient for many Chinese dishes, particularly soup and stir fries. These ikan bilis have a naturally sweet and salty taste that complements many types of savoury dishes.
|First, 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; the ikan bilis powder needs to be quite salty to work its magic as a seasoning condiment.|
|After washing the ikan bilis, pat dry on paper towels and arrange them one flat layer on a baking tray. For best results, allow to air dry before baking in the oven.|
|Bake the ikan bilis in the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes, until the ikan bilis have just turned a light brown shade (see above). Use a spatula to stir and spread them evenly.|
|Return to oven and continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until the ikan bilis turn a shade of golden brown, as seen in the photo above. At this point, they are crispy and makes a great snack or a savoury topping for many Chinese dishes.|
|Pulse the baked ikan bilis in an electric grinder until they become powder. If you do not have an electric grinder, you can see a mortar and pestle to pound them.|
|What you get is fine ikan bilis powder which is very versatile – you can use it as a condiment for plain porridge or as a secret seasoning ingredient in many types of dishes (such as soups and stir fries). Store in an air tight container in a cool and dry place (such as the fridge).|