Friday, May 11, 2012

Okoy / Ukoy (Crispy Shrimp Fritters)

Okoy or Ukoy (Crispy Shrimp Fritters) is a native Filipino food usually served as merienda (afternoon snack.)  Small shrimp (usually with head and shell on) are mixed in batter and fried until crispy.  Okoy has several variations; the most common is the shrimp okoy.  Some use tiny fish such as dilis (anchovy) or a very small fish called dulong. The most common ingredients mixed with shrimp are togue (mung bean sprouts) and julienned sweet potato. Some use julienned squash or grated cassava.  The dish comes with a spicy vinegar dip made with local vinegar such as sinamak or pinakurat with garlic, chili peppers, ground pepper and salt.  Sometimes, it is served as a main entrée with rice. 

My first okoy was cooked by my maternal grandmother.  As I have mentioned in my previous articles, she is a native from Laguna, where the dish is believed to have originated from.  I remember how crispy her okoy were and how it tastes so good when dipped in spicy vinegar.  When I visited my mom in the Philippines last January, she cooked okoy for me and I ended up eating a lot of it with a big plate full of rice. And when I came back to the US in March, I cooked the dish for my husband and he loved it!


·         1 cup small-medium shrimp, raw, cleaned (still with the head, shell and tail on)  - not the fermented type
·         ½ cup flour
·         1 cup cornstarch
·         ½ teaspoon baking powder
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
·         1 ¼ cups water
·         1 piece raw egg
·         1 cup togue (mung bean sprouts)
·         1 cup sweet potato, julienned (can be substituted with squash)
·         1 piece medium yellow onion, minced (optional)
·         2 stalks green onion, finely chopped (optional)
·         2 cups cooking oil


1. In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients together (flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, pepper.)  Mix in water and egg to make a batter. Stir to mix well.

2. Add the shrimp, bean sprouts, sweet potatoes, onion and yellow onion. Toss mixture until shrimp and vegetables are coated with batter.

3. Heat oil in a frying pan or small cooking pot over medium heat .

4. Scoop about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the mixture and deep fry in oil.

5. Cook each side for 2 to 3 minutes or until the color turns golden brown. Please note that cooking time may vary. Repeat this step until the entire mixture is cooked.

6. Remove the deep-fried okoy from the pan and place in a plate lined with paper towel to absorb the oil.

7.  Serve warm with vinegar dip.

For the vinegar dip:

In a bowl mix together the following ingredients:

1 cup vinegar
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 pieces chili peppers, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste


·         Some prefer their okoy just with shrimp in batter and no vegetables.
·         Sweet potato can be substituted with squash.
·         Some use dried shrimp (hibi, not the fermented type) instead of fresh shrimp.  The former is more flavorful than the latter.
·         Some use dilis (anchovy.)  When you use this fish, you don’t usually put vegetables on it.
·         Some use a very tiny fish called dulong.  When you use this fish, you don’t usually put vegetables on it.  The dish is not usually crispy as it uses more egg than starch.
·         Some use bagoong alamang (fermented tiny shrimp) instead of fresh shrimp and mix it with grated cassava. Make sure to rinse it at least three times to reduce saltiness. 

Serving Suggestions:

·         Serve as snack.
·         Serve as appetizer.
·         Serve as main entrée with steamed rice.

Additional Notes:

·         The key to an enjoyable okoy is a crispy texture.  The cornstarch in the batter mixture helps make it crispy.  Make sure you serve your okoy immediately after cooking so you’ll enjoy its crispy texture to the fullest.  If it sits longer at room or cold temperature, it can get soggy.
·         Do not fry your okoy mixture over high heat as it will result to a bitter and burnt okoy with raw batter inside.