Updated: Jun 10, 2022
My love affair with small fried fish started in Chicago with smelts. These seasonal fish would appear briefly in some of the better restaurants, lightly fried with a very thin batter and accompanied by a dip. I have been experimenting with fresh anchovies here in India recently, and have fallen in love again with these tiny fish. Sprats and smelt are different from anchovies though they are often confused and mislabelled.
This recipe is super simple and wonderful. The small anchovies are coated in a lightly spiced batter and pan sautéed, I refuse to deep fry them, even though the original recipe calls for them to be. The crisp fish are served with a piquant mayo dip that brings the fish alive with flavor. The dish is the perfect finger food, with friends getting their finger tips full of mayo. I did eat about 20 of these babies, they were hard to resist, especially with a cold beer or a nice chilled white wine.
This cookbook has been one that has been hiding on my shelf and I am glad I finally took it out and made something from it. It is a wonderful cookbook on authentic Filipino cuisine, full of recipes and wonderful photographs. These islands have a very unique cuisine, one that I have had at restaurants and at friend's houses. Here is a start to me delving deeper into this cuisine. The chefs, Kim and Miguel have 2 New York restaurants (Maharlika and Jeepney) and are both very actively involved in promoting Filipino food in the US. The Bay Area where I used to live had a vivid Filipino restaurant scene with amazing food.
For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.
For the spicy rémoulade:
6-10 red Thai chilies
2 teaspoons Maggi seasoning sauce (or see cheat)
1 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons cane vinegar or apple cider vinegar
For the dilis:
1 lb cleaned anchovies
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon pepper
4 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon mild paprika
To make the rémoulade, toast the chilies on high heat on a dry frying pan till charred all over. Cool completely.
Combine the chilies, Maggi seasoning (or substitute), mayonnaise, and vinegar and blitz till you have a smooth paste. Taste and adjust heat as desired, the dip should be bright and spicy.
To make the bilis, toss the anchovies with the rst of the ingredients. Heat a wide frying pan with oil and fry the anchovies till they are well cooked and crisp. The original recipe called for them to be deep fried, but I like to pan fry them for health reasons.
Serve immediately, while the anchovies are still crisp with the dipping sauce on the side.
Note: If you cannot find Maggi seasoning sauce, you can substitute 50% soy sauce mixed with 50% Worcestershire sauce. I tend to have about 40-50 condiment bottles, almost to a point that I need a new fridge just for this purpose. I will sometimes use a "cheat" rather than buy a condiment that is hard to find or I may not use often, and for which tere is a good substitute.