Fried Brinjal with Anchovies in Assam Paste

Friday, June 10, 2016

I tried this out for the first time and it was simply delicious. I knew because it was long gone before dinner was over. 

I have explained in this post how to cook brinjal well. For the home, a two step method of first cooking it on high heat - roasting in oven, pan-searing or deep frying - before flavouring it works well. The skin of the brinjal is delicious and crisped up when roasted or seared coated in some oil.

Anchovies from Indonesia
The anchovies I like most are those from Indonesia. This variation is light brown in colour. The only way I could tell that it was good was to take a bite. It was sweet and tasty. At $20 per kilo, it was value for money  compared to those from Malaysia. I bought this in a stall at Geylang Market.

As for brinjal, almost any variety you can get off our local markets will work. As anchovies are already salty, think of a sauce that is sweet and sour to match it. Tamarind paste works well, with added sugar, kecap manis or tomato ketchup.


3 pieces of long brinjal or equivalent quantity if using other varieties
300 gm anchovies
1 tbsp of tamarind sauce
2 tsp kecap manis or 2 tsp sugar or 2 tbsp of tomato ketchup
2 red chillis, chopped

diced spring onions

Deep frying anchovies
The first thing I should say is that if you wash your anchovies and deep fry it after that, you can almost forget about getting it crisped. In fact, you should ask in the first place: Why do you need to wash it? Especially when you are going to deep fry it anyway. What you should do is to remove the dust and bits of bones. That is all the cleaning you need to do. Heat up some oil in the wok or pot. Deep fry the anchovies for a minute or till the sizzling stops. Lift out and drain.

Deep frying the brinjal
Using the same oil, deep fry the pieces of brinjal for about 2 minutes. Lift out and drain.

Finishing the dish
In a wok, add some oil and roast some chopped garlic. Then add the brinjal. Add the tamarind paste, sugar (or ketchup manis)  and chopped chillies. After about 2 minutes of sir-frying, it is done. Serve immediately, garnishes with some diced spring onions.

You can up the spiciness of the dish by adding more chilies.

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  1. not true on washing the ikan bilis..i washed and soaked them to remove most of the salt..and i never have problem frying them till crispy..most people are worried that the oil will splatter if there's water..just drain the ikan bilis ..and make sure oil is very hot..turn it down slightly when you put in the ikan bilis..

  2. jen - for some reason, it never worked for me when someone washes the ikon bills. And I have to almost over-fry it to get it crispy. I will take note of your experience.

  3. I also wash my ikan bilis, and I dry them in the microwave with short bursts of a minute (initially) to 30 seconds. Don't overdo or they will burn. They become shatteringly crisp without any oil. Works wonderfully as a garnish, and very addictive as a snack. I buy those smaller ones that have the heads and guts removed.

  4. hi, i am an Admin of eva'kitchen, i would like to post some unquie recipes on your blog or if you want we can swap link.

  5. Hi Food Canon, anchovies had to be washed otherwise too salty. After rinsing quickly, draining off excess water, I sprinkled blended rice flour (2 or 3 tbsp), mix well & deep fried them. Surprise! Very nice & crispy. Then I added 1 heap tbsp sugar to it. Tastes great.