Kitchen by TILAH

Soy Sauce Anchovies (Ikan Bilis Masak Kicap)

Simplicity at its best.  When I am totally not in the mood for anything elaborated or complicated, I usually go back to basics.  The dish that was ever so common to my siblings and I during our childhood days but never failed to satisfy us at each and every meal.  We grew up with it!

My father wasn't really earning much when we were kids. In order to make ends meet and to meet the monthly budget of maintaining the family, my mother had limited expenditure for everything including our food. Anchovies and eggs were quite the daily source of food except for certain days of the month when we were the happiest kids on earth! We were all carefree kids then. What we saw was what we got and what we got was what we ate and soy sauce anchovies with fried omelette is an all time favourite even now. All the more so when I am sick or just "lost" in the kitchen!

As I had a terrible asthma attack together with flu over the course of last week,  I did not really have that much appetite.  Whenever this happens and whenever I am out of ideas on what to cook for the meal of the day, soy sauce anchovies would be just the right kind of dish to save my taste bud.  In fact, I tend to eat more than usual amount of rice whenever I cook this dish and this is not really a good thing for someone like me.  You see, I suffer from temporary amnesia whenever I am eating.  I only remembered the fact that I was supposed to be on a diet after I had finished my food.  Oh well...I am just being the supermodel me! Hehe... :)

So last Thursday, I cooked Soy Sauce Anchovies or Ikan Bilis Masak Kicap as we always call it at home.  Honestly, all you need is just white rice with soy sauce anchovies (though it is a habit in our family to always have the one and only thing that is just perfect to go with it and that is fried omelette!) and you are all set to heaven with this sweet, sour and spicy dish. You also have the choice of having your anchovies just right or really crispy and chewy.  My siblings and I love it crispy and chewy but this is definitely not an option for people with weak teeth or dentures (to all the bold and beautiful oldies out there, you better stick it up!). ;p

I think most of the Malays, are very familiar with this dish. It is quite a common dish amongst us. All I can say is that it will be a guaranteed favourite regardless of race, language or religion!  Definitely a must when you are out of ideas as to what to cook for a meal or when you need something savoury and satisfying to be done chop-chop in just a matter of minutes.  Here it is the way my beloved mum does it.


2 rice bowls of anchovies or "ikan bilis" as it is known in Malay - rinsed and set aside
6-8 nos of calamansi - juice extracted
3/4 teacup of sweet soya sauce - more or less depending on your preference (I used Habhal's brand)
2 large onions - finely sliced
2 garlics - finely sliced
1 fresh red chilly - finely sliced      } use more or substitute with bird's eye chillies if you dare!
1 fresh green chilly - finely sliced  }
1 teaspoon of Ajinamoto - optional
salt to taste


1.  Heat up oil in pan.

2.  Add in the anchovies. Fry for about one to two minutes.  If you want it crispy and chewy, you can fry it for about another one to two minutes but no longer than that or the anchovies will get too hard.

2.  Add in the sliced onions, garlics and chillies.

3.  Stir fry until the onions are withered or translucent.  Add in Ajinamoto (if you prefer) and salt to taste.

4.  Add in the sweet soya sauce. 

5.  Let simmer for a minute or two.

6.  Add in the calamansi extract.  I squeeze them straight with the seeds in and this adds to the aroma of the dish.  Give a stir to combine and do a taste check to see if you need to add whatever it is that you need to your taste!

7.  Off fire and serve.

Serve with white rice and oh, remember the fried omelette!  Happy Kitchen-ing!!


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