‘Tazukuri’ is a Japanese dish of dried young whole sardines cooked in Sugar and Soy Sauce. It is a traditional dish prepared for New Year’s celebration. Young sardines called ‘Gomame’ are used but the ones called ‘Niboshi’ (OR ‘Iriko’) are also used, but those dried whole sardines are too hard to find where I live.

Then I saw a product named ‘Ikan Bilis’ in the Asian food section of a supermarket. It’s not Japanese and I have never known Ikan Bilis. They are dried anchovy fillets packed in plastic bags. The fillets are, of course, missing head and tail, and that’s not good for New Year’s celebration. But I tried to cook ‘Tazukuri’ using them.

Ikan Bilis version of ‘Tazukuri’ tastes the same as the Japanese sardine version. I actually like Ikan Bilis version better, because head and tail and guts are missing. YES!!! What a discovery!!!


Makes

4 to 8 Servings

Ingredients

100g ‘Ikan Bilis’ (Dried Anchovy Fillets)
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce *OR less if ‘Ikan Bilis’ are very salty
1 tablespoon Sake (Rice wine)
1/2 teaspoon Rice Vinegar
1 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Seeds

Method
  1. I recommend to wash ‘Ikan Bilis’ with cold water a couple of times and clean them. Remove unwanted pieces such as scales and heads. Drain well. *This process softens very dry Ikan Bilis and also reduces the saltiness.
  2. In a small bowl, combine Sugar, Soy Sauce and Sake (Rice Wine).
  3. Heat Oil in a frying pan over low heat, cook Ikan Bilis until golden and crunchy, but do not over cook.
  4. Add the sauce mixture, stir to combine, and remove from heat. Sprinkle Rice Vinegar over and stir. The sauce will thicken with the remaining heat. Sprinkle with Toasted Sesame Seeds.