Basic stock recipe: Ikan Bilis (dried anchovies) stock

The humble ikan bilis (dried anchovies) soup is something that ties me close to home. It’s the most simple, basic of all soup stocks and remarkably easy to make. We use it for just about any soupy meals. Think fish ball soup, rice vermicelli (bihun) soup, mee hun kueh (known in KL as pan mee, mit), steamboat, spinach and preserved egg soup …

It’s probably the first thing you should learn how to make after you moved out from your parents’ house.

If you have need for ikan bilis stock, you should really make it from scratch. It takes only 40 minutes and the best part is, you know exactly what goes into it.

The good thing about making your own stock is that you can make a huge batch, then keep it in the fridge over the next few days. If you’re planning on further use, freeze it and use within 3 months.

This recipe makes about 2.2 litres worth of ikan bilis stock.

Ikan bilis (dried anchovies) stock - a handful

What kind of ikan bilis should you get? Not the expensive types please, those are for eating. The ‘Grade B’ type should suffice, but be sure to remove the head and insides, else the soup will be too bitter.

Ikan bilis (dried anchovies) stock - wash

Wash the ikan bilis under running water, twice. Drain and set aside.

Ikan bilis (dried anchovies) stock - garlic ginger

Take 3 garlic cloves, remove skin and give it a slight squash with your chopper. Use 2 slices of ginger – but if you’re using Bentong ginger (really strong), maybe 1 slice should be enough. If you like your soup slightly spicier (more ginger-ish), use 3. But no more than that as the ginger taste will be overwhelming!

Ikan bilis (dried anchovies) stock - simmer strain

In a pot, pour in 2.5 litres water. Bring to a boil, then add ikan bilis, ginger and garlic. Let it simmer on medium-low fire for 30 mins.

When it’s ready, remove everything in the stock, save for the stock (har har). Remove any impurities with a sieve.

You now have ikan bilis stock, wahey! Rejoice, world!
p/s: Thanks Mom for the recipe! <3

What to do with ikan bilis/dried anchovies stock

# Add noodles/ rice vermicelli + fish balls + leafy greens = meal.
# Use it as your steamboat/hotpot soup base.
# Add spinach + sliced century egg + Chinese wolfberries = soup.
# Add fish ball + leafy greens + thin carrot strips = fish ball soup.
# Use it as base soup for mee hun kueh
# Cook porridge in it = brings your porridge to the next level.

Endless possibilities πŸ™‚



  1. okay, what do I do with the ikan bills stock?

    • Use it as a base for fish ball soup, rice vermicelli (bihun) soup, mee hun kueh (known in KL as pan mee, mit), steamboat, spinach and preserved egg soup …

  2. If Suanie can cook, so can everybody !

  3. suanie, ipoh style stock is exactly like the one you just taught except throw in a huge bunch of fresh taugeh too (remove them along wit the aromatics n ikan bilis after stock is done). it adds sweetness to the stock (my mum’s tip)

  4. Oh my goodness, we were just wondering how they made it the other day. Who knew it was so easy?

    It may be a kazillion degrees outside but I’m officially declaring it hotpot weekend! πŸ™‚

    Thank you for sharing. πŸ™‚
    r recently posted..A Majestic (Hotel) Romance: A β€œSuite” Dinner DateMy Profile

  5. My mum’s special is to dry ikan bilis well after washing, put into microwaveable bowl with enough oil to cover all…and ding it for minute or two (watch ’em like a hawk, I’ve burnt them before..or wth just deep fry them) before straining and add to water. Slightly oily so strain the oil but that as pan mee base….sedaaaap.

  6. For more kick, I normally toast the ingredients in some oil till lightly brown before covering with water to let it simmer.
    unkaleong recently posted..5:30 AMMy Profile

  7. For some reason I can never make a pan mee base as good as my mum’s. Tried this today and it came quite close. Will prolly try the fried ikan bilis version next time.

  8. Hi
    How much ikan bilis did you use for this stock?

    By washing the ikan bilis twice under running water, won’t this reduce the saltiness of the stock?

    Mandy recently posted..Sapa: Fansipan cable carMy Profile

    • Hi Mandy! I use a rice bowl’s worth. If I’m cooking for 2, then it will be half the amount. I prefer to wash the ikan bilis at least one time, because I do not trust how people dry the ikan bilis πŸ˜‰

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