Ukoy or okoy are Filipino-style fritters made of assorted vegetables, shell-on shrimp, and an atsuete-colored batter. The chunky mixture is dropped in sizzling oil in large spoonfuls and deep-fried until and crunchy.
These crispy patties are commonly peddled by street food vendors in wet markets as well as sold in many carinderias or restaurants. They’re served as a snack, appetizer, or side dish and traditionally enjoyed with a spiced vinegar dip on the side.
Vegetables to use
Shrimp fritters are not only simple to prepare but also versatile. The list of vegetables and root crops below are a great option to use.
- firm tofu cubes
- julienned kalabasa
- shredded green papaya
- julienned carrots
- shredded cabbage
- julienned sweet potatoes
- mung bean sprouts (togue)
- chopped green onions
- shredded cassava
- shredded zucchini
- sliced shallots
- Salt the shredded papaya to dispel of excess liquid that would otherwise water down the batter and break apart the fritters during frying.
- Cut the ingredients as thinly and evenly as possible to ensure fast and even cooking.
- The annatto powder is mainly for color; adjust the amount according to the desired depth of color.
- Add fish sauce for umami flavor. You can also stir in shrimp bouillon in the batter and adjust seasoning to taste.
- For a crispy texture, use enough oil to cover the patties at least halfway. Do not overcrowd the pan and cook in batches as needed.
- Maintain the optimal temperature of 350 to 375 F is crucial. Too high and the fritters will burn before sufficiently cooked through, too low and they will absorb more grease.
- Use a large spoon or a small saucer to evenly portion and easily slide the batter into the hot oil.
- To keep from falling apart, fry the fritters undisturbed for about 2 to 3 minutes until browned on the bottom and then turn with the spatula to continue to cook until browned and crispy.
- Drain on a wire rack set and not on paper towels as the condensation will make the ukoy soggy.
How to serve
- Serve as a midday snack or appetizer with spicy vinegar on the side for dipping.
- As with most fried foods, they’re best enjoyed freshly cooked as they tend to lose crispness over time and do not reheat well.
- If not eating immediately, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and keep warm and crispy in a 200 F oven until ready to serve.