Sweet and Spicy Dilis (Anchovies)

Totally addictive and unbelievably good, these sweet and spicy anchovies (dilis) make a delicious appetizer. We eat it with rice and but it pairs well with some ice-cold beer, too! Quick and easy to make, you have something tasty in a matter of minutes!

 

 

Perhaps for some of you who’ve never eaten or tried anchovies, this may seem like a weird dish. Trust me though, one mouthful is enough to get you hooked with this delicious appetizer – sweet and spicy dilis! In fact, when I eat this I need to exercise self-control or I’ll eat one batch in one sitting!

How can you not? It’s at once sweet and spicy and – just the perfect balance of sweetness and heat! But not only that – these tiny fishes (and they’re organically or naturally tiny – they don’t grow bigger than 2 inches so they’re not baby fishes!) are so crunchy-licious too! 

 

 

It’s indeed a flavor explosion in your mouth and you’d be eating this a lot! Sweet and spicy anchovies are not just well-known in the Philippines but also a favorite snack and finger food around southeast Asia. It’s that good so it’s hugely popular!

To make this you need to find sun-dried dilis (previously dried and ready to cook). That’s the best way to go so all you need is to cook it.

 

 

In the Philippines, we can find these in any market and if you live in an island like I did – fishermen bring these to our doorsteps when they sell dilis door-to-door. Sometimes, we pre-order this from our favorite seller.

If you’re outside Asia or live in the USA, you can find these at your Asian stores (in sealed plastic) or even order them from Amazon or eBay! Isn’t that amazing?

Anyway, if you’re wondering what these tiny anchovies look like dried – please check out the photo above. Some may even look paler than that. I think I took a photo of this in our dark kitchen in the Philippines so the color may not reflect properly.

Anyway, when you buy this, the packet should mention it’s dried anchovies and you can’t go wrong!

Now, let’s go the STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS on how to make this sweet and spicy dilis or anchovies!

 

 

It’s important to make sure that your oil is hot (but not too hot or you will burn the fish). Medium heat should be just about right. So preheat the oil first. Make sure that you’ve got all the ingredients ready prior to frying as the anchovies cook very fast.

 

 

Once the oil is hot, place the anchovies into the pan and quickly stir-fry. Cook for a minute (perhaps even less) just until it has turned deeper in color and is half-cooked.

 

 

Sprinkle all over with the sugar and spice mixture (previously combined). Stir-fry to ensure all the anchovies are coated with the spice mixture. Cook for another minute or until fully cooked. This doesn’t take very long.

 

 

Dry on a strainer to remove any excess oil. You may line the strainer with some paper towel if you wish.

 

Thereafter, enjoy the crispy, sweet and spicy dilis! You can eat it on its own or dip it in vinegar.

Serve immediately as appetizers or party snack! But as with every Filipino dish, we love eating this with cooked rice, too! YUM!

 

Sweet and Spicy Anchovies (Dilis)

Totally addictive and unbelievably good, these sweet and spicy anchovies (dilis) make a delicious appetizer. We eat it with rice and but it pairs well with some ice-cold beer, too! Quick and easy to make, you have something tasty in a matter of minutes!

Course Appetizer, Dinner
Cuisine Asian Cuisine, Filipino, Southeast Asia
Keyword how to cook sweet and spicy dilis, how to make sweet and spicy anchovies, sweet and spicy anchovies, sweet and spicy dilis
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Author Manila Spoon

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried dilis or anchovies, sprinkled with water
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil for frying, or as needed

Instructions

  1. Combine sugar and spices. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil to medium. Add the dilis or anchovies and quickly stir-fry cooking for a minute (or less) just until the fishes have changed to a darker color or about half-cooked. Sprinkle the sugar and spice mix all over and quickly stir-fry. Cook just until everything is mixed through - 30 seconds to about a minute.

  3. Place the cooked dilis in a strainer (lined with paper towel if desired) to drain any excess oil Serve with rice vinegar on the side, if desired. So deliciously addictive!

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