RECIPE FOR CRISPY ANCHOVIES
Source: Adapted and modified from Traditional Japanese Recipe Book (和食の事典)
60g (about 1 cup) tiny dried anchovies (dried whitebaits, 银鱼仔) – note 1
1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds (more or less, but optional)
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sake (Japanese rice wine/ Japanese cooking wine) – note 2
2 tsp mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
1 tbsp brown sugar/ white sugar
1½ tsp honey – note 3
A little bit of water (to dilute the seasonings if needed)
1 tsp salad oil
¼ tsp sesame oil (optional)
- Wash and rinse anchovies gently for several times till the water runs clear. This will help to reduce the saltiness of the anchovies. Drain to remove excess water.
- Line a baking tray with 2 layers of kitchen towels. Spread the anchovies over it. Then using another set of kitchen towel, gently press on top to absorb the water. Discard the kitchen towels.
- Spread the anchovies evenly on the baking tray in a single layer.
- Place the tray in a preheated oven at 100 °C for 15 minutes to dry the anchovies. After 10 minutes, use a large wooden spoon or spatula to stir and give the baking tray a good shake. Do it again after another 5 minutes. Extend the roasting time if needed.
- Once the anchovies are thoroughly dried, increase the heat to 150°C and continue to bake for another 18-20 minutes or until they turn golden brown and crispy. After 10 minutes, give the tray a shake. Repeat this for 2-3 times. Give the anchovy a bite to test the crispiness.
- Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.
- In a small bowl, combine seasonings in Group A.
- Heat up a skillet or cooking pan (with a flat base). Add in seasonings from step (7) and cook under medium heat. When small bubbles are forming and the sauce is almost dried up, stir in the anchovies from step (6) all at once and stir until they are completely coated with the sauce.
- Turn off the heat and add in toasted sesame seeds and seasonings in Group B. Mix till well incorporated.
- Spread the anchovies on a grease proof paper to let them cool down quickly. This will help to retain their luster.
- Once cool, keep them in an air-tight container and store in the fridge until ready to use. It can be kept in the fridge for 2 weeks.
- You can substitute tiny anchovies (银鱼仔) with normal anchovies (江鱼仔).
- If you can’t find sake, just replace the amount with mirin.
- Honey is my personal addition. You can use more sugar instead.
- You can make any adjustments to the seasonings to suit your family’s liking.
- The suggested roasting time should only be used as a reference. It may vary depending on the size and amount of anchovies used. Do not overcrowd the baking try. Make sure the anchovies are dried before proceeding to step (5). You may need to give the anchovy a bite to test the crunchiness. Remember that the anchovy will continue to cook after being removed from oven. So, do not over-bake them. If you prefer crispy plain anchovies, you can stop at step (4).
- Let the anchovies mixture chilled in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving as it will allow them to absorb the sauce.
- The anchovy mixture will tend to stick together and harden after being chilled in the fridge. Just thaw them at the room temperature first before serving. Alternatively, leave them in a preheated toasted oven (without heat on) for 5 minutes. Another shortcut is to place them on top of the freshly cooked rice for 2-3 minutes. The residue heat will make the anchovies break apart easily.
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