What is the difference between Ikan bilis & White Bait?

What is the difference between Ikan bilis & White Bait?

"Ikan bilis" and "white bait" both refer to small fish commonly used in cooking, but they typically represent different species and are used in different culinary contexts.

  1. Species and Geography:

    • Ikan Bilis: "Ikan bilis" specifically refers to dried anchovies (Engraulidae family), often found in Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
    • White Bait: "White bait" is a term that generally refers to the juvenile forms of various small fish species, such as herring, sardines, sprats, or other small fish. The types of fish classified as "white bait" can vary depending on the region.
  2. Size:

    • Ikan Bilis: Anchovies used for ikan bilis are usually quite small, typically ranging from 2 to 4 inches in length.
    • White Bait: White bait, being the young of various species, can be slightly larger and might vary in size depending on the specific fish species.
  3. Culinary Use:

    • Ikan Bilis: Ikan bilis is often used to make anchovy broth, sauces, or sambal (a spicy chili paste). It is also fried and consumed as a crispy snack.
    • White Bait: White bait is often enjoyed whole, and it's commonly used in Mediterranean and European cuisine. It's usually fried lightly and served as an appetizer, often with a squeeze of lemon.
  4. Flavor Profile:

    • Ikan Bilis: Dried anchovies (ikan bilis) have a strong, savory, and somewhat salty flavor, contributing a rich umami taste to dishes.
    • White Bait: White bait has a milder, delicate flavor compared to anchovies, and it's often described as slightly sweet and nutty.

In summary, while both ikan bilis and white bait refer to small fish used in cooking, ikan bilis specifically denotes dried anchovies common in Southeast Asian cuisine, while white bait is a more general term encompassing young forms of various small fish species used in a broader culinary context, particularly in European and Mediterranean cuisines.

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