Well Being

IMBB #24: (Malaysian) Ikan Bilis Fried Rice

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IMBB is on its 24th month and this time Too Many Chefs is hosting. Cooking from a cookbook is always great, but if you're looking for something beyond the ordinary, the IMBB becomes a fantastic resource. At the end of the event all entries are compiled into a roundup and you then have an impressive list of themed recipes you can try, usually from all over the world, and oftentimes from the people that know and love the cooking of that country or region best. The danger is that it also becomes a source of frustration, as there are just too many great recipes and so little time to make them all. The fun of course is in the trying.

This month's theme is Make It In 30 Minutes. Recognizing that most people these days have busy lives and not that much time or energy to spend in the kitchen, food bloggers everywhere will be posting recipes that don't take so much out of you, especially after a hard day at work.

ikan bilis fried rice

I was introduced to Malaysian food in the late '80's when we moved to the US. Most weekends my friends and I would gather in someone's apartment or home and cook dinner for each other. Several of the girls were Malaysian and we were always exchanging recipes and cooking tips. Sometimes the recipes were long drawn-out ones. Sometimes they were easy both on our schedule and on our student budgets: when you try to fit in a movie and dinner in one evening, efficiency is a must. While cooking, we often delighted in comparing notes and names of familiar ingredients, especially those common to Asian cuisines. One of those things is this dried little fish: the anchovy — which gives this 30-minute recipe its name.

Ikan Bilis Fried Rice is simply fried rice with ikan bilis, or crisp fried small anchovies. The other main ingredient, of course, is rice, but if you want, you can add other things like peas or carrots or shrimp and eggs, etc. I love eggs in fried rice, but since this was going to be eaten by my 7-yo who's allergic to eggs, I had to omit them. If you want to add eggs, just beat one or two with a pinch or so of salt and a grinding of black pepper; add them in after the chicken breast and the shrimp, and before you add the rice, stir-frying as you do so to quickly cook the eggs and distribute them evenly.

Figure on having 5-10 minutes for ingredient prep, and have everything at the ready when you stand in front of your wok:).

You will need:

1/3 cup vegetable oil, divided use (I used safflower oil from Spectrum)
1/2 cup dried anchovies (some people like to rinse anchovies and dry anchovies before cooking — if they look clean to me I usually skip this step, but feel free to rinse and dry if you want)
4-5 cups cooked rice (leftover from the night before is wonderful), broken up with a fork or with your hands if rice is hard/in clumps
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup diced chicken breast, skin discarded if desired
1/2 cup peeled and deveined shrimp
1 tablespoon thin soy sauce, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions

Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. When hot but not smoking, add anchovies and stir-fry until anchovies are cooked and golden. Remove with slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate. Set aside. Discard oil from wok and wipe clean with paper towel. Return to heat and add the rest of the oil. Over high heat add the garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds until JUST beginning to turn golden, then add the shrimp and chicken, continuing to stir-fry, just until shrimp turns opaque. Add rice, soy sauce and salt and pepper and stir-fry 3 minutes. Add bean sprouts and scallions and continue stir-frying a few minutes more. Return the anchovies to the wok and stir-fry until evenly distributed. Your meal-in-a-wok is ready — serve hot!

Tagged with: IMBB24 + 30Minutes

Many thanks to Barrett of Too Many Chefs for hosting this month's IMBB!