The most useful cooking tip I learn when I first became a mother was how to prepare Ikan Bilis (Anchovies) Powder. It was from a leaflet from a Infant Formula Company. I’m still using the same method to do it after 6 years except now it’s easier for me with the use of oven.
The kids still loves porridge sprinkled with Ikan Bilis Powder. No other seasonings is required and it’s amazing how fast they can finish their bowl of porridge and ask for seconds. 🙂 Hmmm … maybe I shouldn’t crack my head so much thinking of what to cook for them. 😉
Previously, without an oven, I would dry fry (no oil) the Ikan Bilis in small amount using low fire after draining them as dry as I could. Don’t even try skipping the washing part. It will be very salty especially for babies.
After they turned light brown (see picture above) and are completely dried, they will be crunchy. You can try one after they are cooled. If they are not crunchy, you have to returned them to the pan and continue frying.
Now, with an oven, things are so much easier. Drain the Ikan Bilis and spread them evenly on a flat pan and bake them at 180C for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring and spreading them evenly again half way through baking and they are ready for the next step.
After the Ikan Bilis are fried or baked dried, you can pound them into powder. Okay, I cheated. I first used a blender to blend as powdery as possible. Next, I sift them and you will see bigger bits left on the sieve (see the edge of dish of above picture) . Pound those bits using the mortar and pestle into powder. Of course, now that the kids are older I no longer have to pound them. I just blend them as powdery as possible (as shown above).
Now you can keep the Ikan Bilis Powder in an air tight container and use it as an seasoning for your porridge or other dishes.