Friday, June 29, 2012

nasi goreng ikan bilis merah (anchovy fried rice)

If I posted on a daily basis, you would probably see about 100 different versions of fried rice in a year. It may sound dramatic, but consider that I make fried rice about twice a week, some times more, practically every week and the numbers will start to add up. Told ya!

I could probably get away with cooking it almost everyday; such is the versatility and potential of left over cooked rice.

And that undeniable truth, brings me to the main reason it appears so often on our table. Leftover rice is a permanent fixture in our kitchen, and this is likely the case in most Asian kitchens.

With all that I need to get done in a typical day or week for that matter, fried rice is a very tempting option. A little peeling here, slicing there and chopping everywhere, a few deft flicks of the frying spatula et voila, dinner is served! Very fortunately for me, hubs and my boys are (fried) rice barrels and actually light up with anticipation when they see me chopping onions and breaking up lumps of cold cooked rice. 

frostbitten eggs *sigh*

Fried rice or nasi goreng as we call it over here, can be taken in at least as many directions as you have teeth in your head. Its origin is in dispute, with the Chinese, Malaysians and Indonesians still locking horns over the right to claim the dish as their own. While spicy nasi goreng is not Chinese, my money's still on the Chinese as the very first people to stir together leftover rice and other odds and ends in a smoking hot wok.

here fishy, fishy!

Each community has several ways of preparing it. I really think I could come up with a list long as my arm, but some very popular versions are the Chinese yang chow fried rice and black olive fried rice, the south Indian Muslim mamak style nasi goreng with lashings of tomato ketchup and chilli paste, the Malay or Nyonya (if they can't decide whose it is, how should I know?!) style nasi goreng sambal belacan, the Nyonya, Malay, Chinese or Indonesian (gasp!) salt fish fried rice and the local Eurasian corned beef and egg fried rice. Oh yum!!! Are you as hungry as I am now?

Today I am sharing with you, the well known and scrumptious nasi goreng ikan bilis or fried rice with anchovies. There are two versions of this tasty treat, one pallid (without chilli paste) and the other, afire with the warm, ruddy glow of red chilli paste. Both are spiked with black pepper and green chillies, so yes, this is definitely for the spice lover! Of course, I would choose the red version; never enough chilli on my plate...

Nasi goreng ikan bilis is Malay, no, Indian Muslim, nooooooo, Nyonya!!! *Arggghh* Okay, it's definitely not Chinese or Eurasian! In a culinary melting pot like Singapore, it's often nearly impossible to rightly attribute the original creator of a dish, even one that may be as familiar as the back of your hand. So you know what, let's just call it damned shiok! For even more shiok nasi goreng, serve with a dollop of Sambal Belacan on the side, and a tall glass of Lime Drink with Pandan. Tak boleh tahan!! Err, I mean, unbearably goooood!!

Nasi Goreng Ikan Bilis Merah

Prep 20 mins      Cook 15 mins      Serves 4- 5

1 large onion, chopped (see photo above)
40 g (2/3 cup) cleaned and split ikan bilis (dried anchovies)
2 tbsp chilli paste
4 green chillies, thinly sliced (I ran out so I omitted them)
2 roast chicken breast halves, cut into large dice
6 cups cold cooked rice (day old rice is best, rake over grains before frying)
3 eggs (preferably unfrozen)
11/2 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
salt to taste (add last of all, after tasting as ikan bilis is quite salty)
1 stalk spring onion, sliced any way you like, for garnishing

Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a wok until hot and fry the onion until fragrant and just beginning to colour. Add the ikan bilis and stir until brown and fragrant.

Stir in chilli paste and cook until oil separates from mixture. Add green chillies and chicken and stir until green chillies wilt and chicken is coated with chilli paste.

Stir in rice over high heat until evenly red. Push rice aside and add another tablespoon of oil to wok. When hot, break the eggs into oil and leave until partially set. Scramble eggs then stir rice into eggs and mix well for 3 - 4 minutes.

Add pepper, stir and taste rice. Add salt if necessary and stir well. Dish out and garnish with spring onions. Serve immediately.

Before I end today's post, I want to say thanks to my friends Biren and Shirley for the pleasure of their company, last week, when Biren visited Singapore. We spent a lovely evening together in my home, over dinner before Biren's flight back to Minnesota and chatted ceaselessly (so much to say to each other!), sharing our thoughts on blogging and life in general. Of course when the chatting was done, we exchanged gifts.

from Shirley - the whimsical handbag photo frame, the babies are mine

from Biren - mellow salted chocolate, yummy oblaten, the perfect madeleine pan and adorable pumpkinhead scoop

Thank you again ladies for a lovely evening! My only regret was that it lasted but a few hours. May there be many (hopefully longer) more such meetings to come!


  1. There is absolutely nothing in this world I love more than ikan bilis and ikan bilis fried rice is just mouthful of heaven. You wanna bet this ones making an appearance on the kitchen table this week!
    Thanks DENISE!

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

    1. Hi Devaki, so nice to see you :) I think ikan bilis fried rice is my favourite fried rice - so tasty and savoury from the anchovies! Hope your family enjoys it!

  2. I love Nasi Goreng, but I never knew it simply means Fried rice :-). Now that the mystery is revealed, I feel that it's not some complicated exotic unattainable recipe, and I can make it by myself! You just saved me 20 bucks on a fancy dinner at a restaurant :-). Thanks for this post!
    P.s. those frosted eggs look very cute! I should freeze eggs just for the looks some day :-) What would happen if you poach frozen eggs? Maybe they will retain that egg shape? Or maybe they'll explode in boiling water ;-)

    1. Elana, glad to have demystified it for you :) Nasi goreng is often what newbie cooks in south east Asia cut their teeth on in the kitchen, because it's so simple and well, you can just toss whatever you like into the pan and it usually tastes good no matter what you to it. Very newbie friendly indeed! About those eggs - I got a small shock when I broke them into a bowl and frozen ovals fell out instead of liquid eggs LOL Time for a new fridge *sigh* If you do try freezing then poaching them, I'd love to know what happens...

  3. Hi Denise, So happy to see your post in my reader. I really enjoy fried rice too, but my guys not as much. I'm really interested in trying the anchovies... yum!

    Have a great week my friend!

  4. We love fried rice too over at our house. The first thing my eldest requested for me to teach him so that he can cook it in college this fall. Perhaps you will see a few versions on my blog soon. ;)

    Ikan bilis fried rice is really tasty and I like the red version too. Spicy of course! I tone it down for my boys but after I scoop up their share, I add a little more chili to mine.

    Glad you enjoyed the sea salt soiree and oblatens. I just bought two more bars...ooops! As for the oblatens, they are really good with ice cream too. I really enjoyed my visit with you and Shirley at your lovely home. Time went by too quickly. Your cooking is superb! Many thanks for your gracious hospitality.

    Hugs....Biren xx

  5. Cute picture frame and babies! So glad to meet your hubby and boys. Please do say "Hi" for me :)

  6. So much to love in this post - the photo of the dried anchovies, the pink pandan limeade, the fluffy fried rice, but perhaps most of all the fabulous gifts your friends brought you. Not sure which I covet most! Actually, I do - I covet your time with Biren and Biren's time with you. One day... :-)

  7. Shiok, indeed!! I'm with you for the red version, definitely. Love the anchovies, love my chillies...YUM!

  8. What a wonderful version of fried rice...great flavors!
    I wish I could have been with you girls on your visit...such fun :)

  9. Once done making fried rice, pour some fried onion, slice of lime and egg on it..awesome..

  10. Saya suka banget dengan nasi goreng, dan selalu bikin variasi nasi goreng enak yang tidak kalah juga, kali ini saya coba pakai tempe, rasanya tidak kalah enaknya. Coba deh lihat resep yang saya pakai dan lihat hasilnya, mantap enak sempurna. Hanya saja saya belum coba resep yang kamu share

  11. Halo Kak^^

    DEP0SIT M1N 10 R1BU
    WITHDR4W M1N 50 R1BU
    B0NU5 N3W M3MB3R 10%
    B0NU5 H4R14N 5%
    L1NK 4LT :



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