However, we can’t expect our little ones to chew on ikan bilis (dried anchovies), especially if they don’t have teeth yet, right? The traditional way which our parents, grandparents and probably great-grandparents did was to grind it into powder and mix it into baby’s porridge. I received a number of questions on how exactly to do that, so here’s a step-by-step guide on how I do mine!

Step 1: Buy the right anchovies – go for the smallest ones


The anchovies should be around 2cm in length. If in doubt, just go for the smallest and the most expensive ones. Or you could always ask the seller.

Step 2: Soak the ikan bilis (dried anchovies) for about 15 minutes and then rinse


The idea is to make it a little less salty since dried anchovies can be a little too tasty for babies and clean any dirt. I recommend no longer than 15 minutes, otherwise the anchovies will be TOO tasteless. I like to leave some flavour so that it gives my baby’s porridge a little taste, rather than being totally bland.

Step 3: Dry fry the anchovies in a kuali or frying pan to dry them


Of course you could leave them out in the sun, but you’d need to leave them out for a whole afternoon at least to ensure that they are thoroughly dry. Also, you’d have to watch out for stray cats who may think they you have so kindly laid out the anchovies for their snack.

That’s why I prefer to dry them by frying them. DO NOT use any oil – the idea is to use the heat of the fire to dry the anchovies. USE LOW FIRE else your anchovies will burn. Yes, I speak from experience. When your anchovies turn slightly light brown (like in the picture above) and they feel dry to the touch, they’re pretty much dry.

Scoop them out and leave them in a plate to cool. DO NOT COVER THE PLATE else the vapour will moisten the anchovies again. You need to make sure that the anchovies are really dry so that after grinding them into powder, they will last. Moisture will cause mould to breed in the anchovies powder.

Step 4: Put them in your miller and grind away!


If you have a 2-way blender at home like my Tefal one here, the one that should be used for grinding dry stuff is the one with the opening at the bottom. The container which has the opening at the top is for blending wet stuff. Just keep grinding until you deem it powdery fine enough for your baby.

Step 5: Store them in an airtight container and put it in the fridge for safe measure


This is how my ground anchovies look like! I always store them in the fridge because the fridge is dry and cold – very suitable for preserving the ground anchovies. You can add them to your baby’s porridge, soups, or even when cooking their dishes for toddlers.


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