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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.

86 comments on “Ikan Bilis Stock”

  1. Hi, great that my site can be of use to you, though I have already long never written in the blog. Any way the purpose of adding red dates is as we all know red dates improves blood circulation and has a sweet taste to it and as for ginger, it actually gets rid of the fishy smell and hences the aroma of the stock. I always add a few slices of giner to my stockbe it chicken or pork.

    Soyabean is a good choice and taste delicious. at times you can also add apiece of lean pork too. :) Happy cooking :)

    • I love your useful and detailed write up. And thanks so much for your tips, I find them very helpful! I will add some soya beans next time I make this stock :)

  2. 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. its 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.

    always thought the soya beans were meant add oomph and to take away the fishy flavour.

    love your idea of using red dates and ginger. i’ll give it a go. thanks

    • thanks so much for your sharing about the ikan bilis powder. I’m not sure if you subscribe to replied comments, but if you do, could you teach me how to make the anchovies powder? E.g. what type of anchovies to use and bake at what temperature, and for long? Thanks in advance :)

  3. i have also always made ikan bilis powder, and kept them in fridge for later use, to make into stock or base for fish porridge, etc. However, i do not bake them first but just dry in sun for a few hours, put thru blender, store in fridge, and then dry fry over low heat for a minute or so till i can just smell it, but definitely no charing or burning – maybe a little browning (to get rid of any off flavors) before use. I think the bake method could be better, or at least easier? and will try it.

    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.

    and yes, as previous posters have mentioned, definitely use deheaded and degutted ikan bilis – this is what causes the bitterness.

    i usually just buy the cheapest kind of ikan bilis that looks ‘fresh’, and not mouldy or too moist.

    • Hi jsager, thank you sooo much for sharing your recipe. I’ll try it out! Your instructions are clear. And it sounds like a great seasoning powder to add to many dishes, moreover no MSG :)

      btw, where did you buy your deheaded and degutted ikan bilis from? :)

  4. yes, no MSG, but ikan bilis is high in uric acid and those susceptible to gout may want to use it less frequently – or, come to think of it, they could follow your original recipe, ie boil for 10 minutes and then throw away the boiled-out ikan bilis. My guess, as i am not a food technologist, is that this will result in minimal uric acid in the stock (and also no need to degut and dehead the ikan bilis).

    i live in europe, and i can only buy whole ikan bilis from chinese grocery stores (about 10€ per kilo). i degut/dehead them myself (keeping as much of the bone/spine as possible). Yes, takes forever and not very pleasant. I have bought deheaded/degutted ikan bilis in singapore/malaysia – but it is so clean that all the bones are removed as well.

    You may wish to try the japanese dashi – i have used ikan bilis (instead of the dried small sardines called for in the recipes), and seaweed (konbu). Google for dashi and you will find many recipes for making this stock or soup base.

    As a noobcook, you may also want to check out egullet.com, if you have not already, great forum and many tips on cooking techniques,etc. There is an asian section, but this has not been very active recently, however previous posts are a source of very useful info, as least for me. For example, its where i found lots of discussions on dashi and motivated me to cook it myself.
    best wishes

  5. Oh dear, I never knew that I have to rinse the ikan bilis before cooking. I’m not exactly very savvy in the kitchen. Just learning how to cook now that I have kids.
    And the ikan bilis powder is an excellent idea. No waste, no fuss.
    I’m going to try making it this weekend.
    Love your website!

  6. I like ikan bilis stock. But I would usually fry it with little oil and 1-2 whole garlic(smashed), then add boling water. The stock turns out a little milky. But somehow it taste better than just putting ikan bilis to boil.

  7. Been enjoying your blog! Have half a mind to try the bak kwa when I return to Australia! There’s no pork here in the middle east :(. With regards to ikan bilis choice, my mum told me once that the smaller-sized ones tend to taste alot better with soup and even fried so maybe you could try that? I’ve tried making my easy-to-make Mee Hoon Kueh with those small ones and she’s right. The soup does taste alot better than with the larger ones I use in Aust but we can’t find small ones there so beggars can’t be choosers! :)

    • Thanks for sharing! I’m quite happy with the Pangkok variety for soup stock and for deep fried ones, I used the de-gutted type. Will try to find smaller-sized ones to try in future. Woah, you have any Mee Hoon Kueh recipe to share? ;) Hope you like the bak kwa when you try it.

  8. Split Ikan Billis (Dried Anchovies) – just remove the head, open up the Ikan Billis by pressing slightly the middle top and bottom of the Ikan Billis, remove the bones and guts, that’s it. A bit tedious but easily done

  9. Pingback: Ikan Bilis Powder Recipe (Anchovy Powder/江鱼仔粉)

  10. Pingback: Chinese Spinach in Superior Broth Recipe (上汤菠菜/苋菜)

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