I love anchovies. I love them deep-fried, crunchy, and extra salty. These dried mini fishes are sold in the market or Asian grocers, sometimes in vacuum-packed bag or in big bamboo baskets where you can pick the type you want and get them as much as you need.
Shopping for dried anchovies (ikan teri in Indonesian or ikan bilis in Malaysian) in traditional market in Asia is really a smelly deal. I am not a huge fan. If I have to do it myself, I will pick them up from the supermarket shelves. But the view of neatly arranged varieties of dried and salted anchovies and fish and seafood is amazing.
One of the most common way to cook dried anchovies in Indonesian cuisine is to deep fry them with peanuts. The deep fried anchovies and peanuts are then coated with chili paste. This is known as “sambal teri kacang” and is part of rijjstaffel side dishes to be served with steamed rice.
This recipe is using small size dried anchovies, or Teri Medan. The type of sugar used is palm sugar (gula merah/gula melaka). If castor sugar is used, the color will be considerably lighter. It is important to keep it crunchy, and the key to make perfect and crunchy sambal teri kacang is to let the chili paste cool down slightly and stir in anchovies with peanuts and mix them quickly before the paste completely cool off.
Serve this with your fragrant coconut milk rice (nasi lemak, recipe here), it will sure be a hit!
Sambal Teri Kacang, Spicy Anchovies and Nuts
1/4 cup cooking oil, for deep frying and 2 tablespoons for frying chili paste
50 g peanuts, with seed coat still attached if possible
100 g dried anchovies
5 red chilies
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp tamarind pulp
2 tbsp palm sugar (gula merah/gula melaka), shaved
3 tbsp water
Heat cooking oil in a skillet over high heat for 3 minutes or until slightly smoky. Lower heat and toss peanuts in. Fry by stirring quickly to prevent burning for 3 minutes. Turn off heat, remove peanuts using colander and drain on paper towel.
Reheat the cooking oil over high heat. Add the anchovies and increase the heat for one minute. Lower heat and keep stirring for 3 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towel
Grind chilies, garlic and salt on mortar using a pestle until fine, about 7 minutes. Alternatively, blend the spices using an electric blender using high speed for 10 seconds
Mix tamarind pulp, shaved palm sugar and water in a bowl. Stir quickly until all ingredients melt. Use fingers to squeeze the juice out of tamarind pulp and rid off the seeds. Set aside
Heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil in the same skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Lower heat and stir fry the chili paste for one minute. Add the tamarind pulp and sugar mixture. Cook for 3 more minutes or until the mixture boils
Turn off heat and wait till it slightly cools down, in 3 minutes. Toss in fried peanuts and anchovies into the skillet and mix well
Serve with steamed rice and other dishes
Dried anchovies can be very salty. It is better to soak them for a couple of hours before using. Wash with cold water three times. Drain well on paper towel or air dry till they dry completely before frying. That will really help minimizing deep-frying time, and ultimately the absorption of cooking oil.
If preferred, peanuts and anchovies can be toasted or baked in an oven or stove. Make sure they are crunchy. Sambal teri kacang has to be crunchy.
The chili paste can be used with other ingredients, such as potato chips, gnemon crackers etc. Anything that is crunchy and dry can be used with this paste.
Any leftover can be stored in airtight container for up to two days.
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