I don't know about you but I don't need much persuasion to eat sambal ikan bilis. The salty little fishies and deep-fried peanuts make a perfect ménage à trois with the sweet and spicy sambal.
Nasi lemak simply woudn't be complete without some sambal ikan bilis. No coconut rice? Never mind, it also goes well with Teochew porridge and steamed rice. Or just eat it on its own, but be warned that once you start nibbling, you won't stop till you eat everything. Which is fine if it's everything on the plate. Just don't go eating every anchovy in the oceans.
9 July 2012 Update
|SAMBAL IKAN BILIS (ANCHOVIES WITH CHILLI PASTE)|
(Recipe for 6 cups)Sambal (makes 1 cup)
40 g lemongrass, white part only
150 g shallots
75 g garlic
20 g ginger
50 g red chillies
15 g dried chillies
trim stems, cut 2 cm long, soak in warm water till soft, about 30 minutes; squeeze dry and discard water15 g belachan
roast at 150°C or dry-fry over medium-low heat till dry and crumbly80 ml vegetable oil
20 g tamarind paste
mash with 2 tbsp hot water, drain and discard seeds30 g palm sugar, roughly chopped
vegetable oil for deep-frying
150 g peanut
½ tsp salt
250 g ikan bilis, gutted and split
4 tbsp sugar
Rempah (spice paste): Wash, trim, peel and roughly chop lemongrass, shallots, garlic, ginger and red chillies as appropriate. Grind or pound with dried chillies and belachan till smooth. Set aside.
Peanuts: Deep-fry in warm vegetable oil over medium-low heat, stirring, till light brown. This should take 4 minutes or so. Turn off heat. Remove peanuts from oil. Immediately season with salt. Set aside.
Anchovies: Rinse briefly and immediately dry with paper towels. Heat oil till just smoking. Add anchovies and deep-fry over high heat, stirring, till lightly golden. Push anchovies to side of wok. Let oil reheat to just smoking. Stir anchovies into oil and fry till almost golden brown. Turn off heat. Continue stirring till residual heat dissipates. Place anchovies with peanuts.
Sambal: Remove excess oil from wok, leaving about 80 ml. Stir-fry spice paste over medium-low heat till fragrant, colour darkens and oil separates. Add palm sugar. Stir till melted. Add tamarind water. Stir till evaporated. Turn off heat. Remove to a bowl.
Mix: Remove oil from the wok. Over medium heat, stir sugar till melted. Reduce heat to very low. Add peanuts and anchovies. Toss till evenly coated. Add sambal. Toss thoroughly. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Turn off heat. Remove to a plate to cool down completely.
Serve: sambal ikan bilis is excellent with steamed rice, nasi lemak, or Teochew porridge. Also makes a great nibble. Store leftovers in the fridge, tightly covered unless you like your fridge smelling of fish.