Ikan bilis, or dried anchovies, are a popular snack in Singapore. Combined with peanuts and chilli paste, it's just the thing to have with a cold Tiger beer (Singapore’s local brew) and the salty flavours make a great prelude to a meal. It can also be served with the famous nasi lemak.






Skill level

Average: 2.8 (251 votes)


  • 300 g ikan bilis, plus 2 tbsp extra (see Note)
  • 200 g raw peanuts with skins on 
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 2–3 garlic cloves 
  • small red chillies to taste 
  • 8 candlenuts 
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • vegetable oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Makes 2 cups

Dry-fry 300 g of ikan bilis and the peanuts in a large, heavy-based frying pan over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.

Pound the extra ikan bilis to a powder in a mortar. Add the remaining ingredients other than the oil and pound to a paste (or you can use a food processor).

Heat a little oil in the frying pan and fry the paste until fragrant, then mix in the ikan bilis and peanuts, stirring well to coat. Cool and store in an airtight container.


• Ikan bilis (dried anchovies) are available from Asian supermarkets.