"This immensely popular snack was served in many bars in Malaysia and Singapore on a complimentary basis until ikan bilis (dried anchovies) became too expensive. Nowadays, it is still offered in upmarket cocktail bars as a menu item. It's easy to make; some cooks add a splash of sambal, others sprinkle crisp shallots, and others scatter just salt and pepper."
- 180 gm (2 cups) ikan bilis (see note)
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying, plus 2 tbsp extra
- 140 gm (1 cup) raw peanuts
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 long red chillies, coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1Preheat oven to 100C. Rinse ikan bilis under cold water, drain, spread on an oven tray and roast until dry and crisp (8-10 minutes).
- 2Preheat oil in a deep-fryer or deep-sided saucepan to 140C. Deep-fry ikan bilis in batches, stirring frequently, until crisp and golden (3-4 minutes). Drain on absorbent paper, set aside.
- 3Add peanuts to oil and cook until golden and crisp (4-5 minutes), drain on absorbent paper and set aside.
- 4Process onion and chilli in a food processor to a smooth paste. Heat extra oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add onion paste, stir occasionally until fragrant (4-5 minutes). Add ikan bilis, peanuts and sugar, season to taste with sea salt. Cook for another minute, cool to room temperature and serve.
Note Ikan bilis (dried anchovies) are available from Asian supermarkets. Use medium ikan bilis in this recipe.