Cucur Ikan Bilis: A Recipe for Salty, Savoury Anchovy Fritters

Anchovy Fritters
Anchovy fritters – fried balls of umami goodness

Anchovy fritters or cucur ikan bilis is the perfect tea-time snack or starter for those who live their lives on the salty side. Crispy on the outside, moist and fluffy on the inside, these fried balls of dough are filled with a delicious umami flavour thanks to the anchovies. It’s salty, savoury, rich, deep and more-ish all at once, even if the end product somewhat resembles overcooked prawn fritters. But while it may not be as Instagram-worthy, cucur ikan bilis is undeniably delicious.

Anchovy fritters are a lot less famous compared to its more popular cousin, cucur udang, and it’s not something commonly available in roadside stalls or restaurants. Why this is so could probably be due to the intense anchovy flavour that might overwhelm some taste buds. It is somewhat salty, but if you’re the sort who adores ikan bilis and always asks for more, then this golden fritter is right up your alley.

Made with ten ingredients, our recipe for anchovy fritters is super easy and comes together very quickly. It’s an affordable snack and is a great alternative if you’d like to serve your guests something a little less typical. All you need to do is grab yourself a pack of nice dried anchovies – your favourite variety should do the trick – and follow the instructions below. But if you’re not an ikan bilis connoisseur, your stock standard market or supermarket variety should do the trick.



  • 70g dried anchovies (ikan bilis)
  • 100g freshly-boiled hot water
  • 40g chives
  • 80g yellow onion
  • 40g red chilies
  • 1 egg
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp anchovy granules
  • Cooking oil

Making anchovy fritters

  1. Soak anchovies in freshly-boiled hot water for 1 to 2 minutes, and then blend both ingredients together until smooth.
Blend anchovies and hot water until smooth
  1. Cut chives roughly 2cm in length.
Cut chives
  1. Using the large hole on a box grater, grate your onions.
  2. Then, deseed and dice chilies.
  3. Add self-raising flour into the blended anchovies and mix to form a batter.
  4. Next, add pepper and anchovy granules and stir to mix through.
  5. Beat the egg and add it into the batter, stirring until thoroughly mixed.
  6. Finally, add the chives, onions and chilies, stirring until the ingredients are spread evenly.


Add chives, onions and chilies

Stir to combine all ingredients

  1. Fill your wok or pot with about 4cm depth of oil and bring it up to frying temperature. To test if your oil is hot enough, plop in some batter. The oil should start bubbling immediately.
  2. Use two regular tablespoons to scoop out and shape the batter into a rough ball. It doesn’t have to be perfect as the batter is soft of won’t hold its shape for very long. Immediately drop the shaped batter into the oil.
  3. Add in a few more scoops of batter (or as much as you can handle) and let it fry until the skin is golden brown and crispy, turning it around in the oil occasionally to ensure all sides are fried evenly.
A wok filled with yummy balls of anchovy fritters on its way to perfect crispiness
  1. Scoop out and transfer fried cucur ikan bilis to a plate or colander lined with paper towels.
Paper towels help soak up excess oil
  1. Let cool for a few minutes before serving with your favourite chili sauce.

Extra tips

  1. This recipe don’t require any salt as dried anchovies are already quite salty. However, different anchovies have different levels of saltiness, so give your batter a taste before frying just in case any adjustments need to be made.
  2. If you don’t want your fritters to be too salty, reduce the amount of anchovies used while maintain the same measurements for the rest of the ingredients.

So, what do you think? Are you game to try some cucur ikan bilis for your next snack, if you haven’t already? If you like your munchies saltier than sweet, as well as easy and uncomplicating to prepare, cucur ikan bilis is definitely something you should try. It’s so good that we’re pretty sure it will even win over the non-ikan bilis lovers out there. Make a batch or two, and tag your pictures with #butterkicap so we can see how your anchovy fritters turned out. We can’t wait!


Butterkicap Team

We're just a small group of friends who love food, culture and Malaysia. We saw the rise of mediocre food, deteriorating relationships and missed the good old days of Malaysia where food was good, homes were warmer and full of friends and family. So we rolled up our sleeves, and made Butterkicap with the hope that it will bring people and flavors home.

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