Ukoy made of green papaya and kalabasa are a delicious snack, appetizer, or side dish. These vegetable fritters are golden, crunchy, and tasty!
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
shredded green papaya
julienned sweet potatoes
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.