Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ikan Bilis With Tempeh & Groundnuts

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Oh me, oh my. This was really snackalicious - sweet, salty, spicy. I couldn't stop popping bits and bites into my mouth once I started. What you see are crispy ikan bilis (anchovies), tempeh and groundnuts, thrown together into one dee-licious mess. It can be served as an appetiser, a side dish, a snack or a tidbit.

On a warm, humid day like today, when the thought of "lunch" just didn't appeal to me, I poured myself a glass wine and munched away. :)

(from Debbie Teoh, inSing)

Makes 2 large jars.

* Note: I used the recipe as a very rough guide. You don't have to follow the measurements religiously ... just taste test as you go along. For me, I used a ratio of 1:1:1 for groundnuts, tempeh and ikan bilis.

- Oil for frying
- 320g groundnuts with skin
- 1 packet (180g) tempeh, finely sliced
- 100g ikan bilis (anchovies)

Spice paste
- 15 stalks dried chillies, soaked and cut into 3cm lengths
- 10g bird’s eye chillies
- 100g shallots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 stalks lemon grass, sliced
- 1 teaspoon belachan or shrimp paste (optional)

If, however, making your own paste turns you off, use any readymade, storebought paste. I like this:

Note: This is not a product endorsement. I just personally like using this brand for days I need to cook in a hurry.

- 60g tamarind paste + 100ml water, sieved to get juice (I used only a small pinch of tamarind paste + about 2 tbsp water ... don't like it too sour)
- 30g palm sugar*
- 45g coarse sugar or to taste*
- Salt to taste (I omitted this ... the ikan bilis were salty enough)
- 10 kaffir lime leaves, sliced (I tore them up into rough shreds ... you can use less leaves if you wish)
* I omitted sugar in favour of kecap manis. Just 1 tsp to colour and sweeten things up.

1. Heat sufficient oil in a wok and fry the groundnuts. Remove nuts once they are lightly browned and drain them on paper towels. They will turn dark brown as they cool.

All the ingredients, prepared separately.
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2. Using the same oil, deep-fry the finely sliced tempeh till lightly browned and drain them on paper towels. Lastly, remove some of the oil, leaving about half a cup in the wok and deep fry the anchovies in batches until crispy. Discard the frying oil.

Crispy fried tempeh.
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2. Using an electric blender, finely grind spice paste ingredients. Skip this stage if you are using readymade paste, obviously.

3. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat and sauté the spice paste until fragrant, stirring continuously to prevent paste from burning. If using readymade paste, use about 2 or 3 tbsps, or however much you need to coat the ingredients.

4. Once the spice paste is fragrant and the oil rises*, add the tamarind juice, palm sugar and sugar, and simmer for 1 minute or until spice paste mixture thickens.
* Not necessary if using readymade paste. As long as the paste heats up, you can add the rest of the ingredients.

5. Add in the kaffir lime leaves, fried groundnuts, crispy tempeh and toss to mix, making sure the spice paste is evenly distributed.

6. Lastly, add in the crispy fried anchovies and adjust seasonings to taste. Remove from heat and leave to cool before storing in airtight containers or jars.

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For a vegetarian version, omit the ikan bilis and belacan (shrimp paste), and use a vegetarian sambal. I get mine (also Sing Long brand) from Fairprice. It is slightly sweeter than the Nasi Lemak Sambal Chilli, so you might not even need to add any sugar.

Enjoy! *licks fingers*


  1. Do you think it will taste nice without peanuts? i can't really eat peanuts cos of acne...

  2. Looks absolutely delicious, Ju! I can see myself snacking on this non-stop!

  3. I adore tempeh!! This is one of my favorite fdish when eating in Malay food stalls

  4. What an interesting dish and it looks so incredibly appetizing! I would love to give this a try.

  5. Your photos are great Ju..I bet it's delicious..

  6. Hi everyone! Thanks for your lovely comments. :)

    Michelle: Sorry you have to skip the groundnuts ... sure you can omit them. As to whether it's nicer or not, I think it all depends on who's eating. ;) The groundnuts give a very nice crunch, no doubt ... but for me, I love tempeh with or w/o them. :)

  7. I'm liking the spicy Asian flavours here! I'm not a big tempeh fan, but perhaps I could be persuaded by this dish!

  8. Oooh you just revealed one of my favorite snacks! When I was living overseas, I would bring over one huge jar of this snack made lovingly by my mom and force myself to eat a few bites a day, wanting it to last as long as possible.

    Oh and to answer leaf, you can easily skip the tempeh - in fact, I like the ikan bills and peanut version more because of all the crunch! :)

    You're making me salivate now!

  9. OMG! I know that sambal bottle. I have it at home as well... keke. Mum brought it over when she came over for holiday.

  10. Ju...save me some. I will be right over. I will bring the martinis...

  11. Tempeh!I tried one of your tempeh recipes and going to post it this week (hopefully). I actually like tempeh but never have them often enough.

    Also a fan of Singlong products. Never tried their sambal chili. I like their Penang curry powder though :)

  12. looks mouthwatering (though i have no idea of of what tempeh is)heeeee...

  13. I make mine with dried chilli paste and without the tempe (not a fan). This is like XO sauce, goes with everything!

  14. How I wish I could get my hands on some tempeh right now... too bad it's a little bit too difficult to find in the UK.
    Beautiful pics!!

  15. You are a tempeh magician, I swear. WISH my hubs liked it ... but file this away under: I get to make (and eat) all of this the next time he's away for an evening!

  16. You sure have a way with tempeh. Looks yummy!

  17. omg. this is sinfully delicious! Are u selling it haha .