Sweet and Spicy Fried Anchovies and Peanuts

We recently got back from the Philippines and as usual, I have my stash of Filipino food staple to last me another year. They make up all my favorite goodies from down south of the Philippines where I hail from, right up to the north in my hubby’s place. But this time I also have a modest assortment of goodies from Singapore where we spent a weekend just right before heading back to Doha.

From the very start I knew every family trip for me would have to be about eating as much as it is about sightseeing . I took home some of my new favorites so I can replicate them in my own kitchen. I got borderline obsessed with the salted egg fish skin crackers and sambal on almost everything I eat so I hoarded a good amount of them to take home with me.

The first recipe I thought of making from the sambal is the Malaysian Ikan Bilis. It is peanuts and dried anchovies fried in sweet and spicy sambal coating. It was love at first bite for me and definitely a hit among family and friends. I have read online that it is usually eaten as a starter or side dish but for me it definitely is a perfect beer food or pulutan! If you haven’t tried it yet, let this post invite you into that tasty experience.❤

Packed and ready to be shared with friends and colleagues at work. Yum!

Recipe ingredients:

200 grams dried anchovies

200 grams peanuts

1 cup cooking oil

2 heads of garlic, pounded

Salt to taste

2 tbsp Sambal belacan ( adjust amount according to your heat preference; it’s quite hot, beware)

3 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp white sugar

1 thumbsized pc of ripe tamarind

Bay leaves, 2 pcs (optional)

1/2 cup water

1 tbsp cooking oil for sauteing

1 medium onion, chopped


  • Wash anchovies under running water. Strain and pat dry on paper towel.
  • Fry peanuts and garlic at medium heat, stirring constantly to cook evenly. Peanuts are done when garlic turn slightly golden. Remove from heat and strain. Season lightly with salt and set aside.
  • On the same oil fry the dried anchovies. Be careful not to overcook as they can turn bitter. Set aside.
  • In a separate pan, saute onion until caramelized. Add in the tamarind softened in the half a cup of water. Remove pit if there’s any. Add in the sugars and stir constantly until you achieve a thick syrup consistency then add in the sambal . Immediately toss in the nuts and anchovies and mix until all the pieces are coated. Serve as a side dish, snack or as an accompaniment to beer. Enjoy!

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