Ukoy recipe using papaya and squash is not only healthy but a tasty appetizer or main dish. Crispy shrimp and vegetable fritters that gets better dipped in spicy, garlicky, vinegar.
Also called “okoy” is a snack sold by street hawkers in the Philippines every afternoon. We have a neighbor in our hometown who makes ukoy every afternoon and I wouldn’t pass on the chance to chow down on one. It’s always a trip down memory lane when I make shrimp fritters.
Good on its own or have it with rice but make sure to serve it while warm and dip it in vinegar with lots of chilis, onions and garlic. This delicious ukoy recipe will not disappoint, try it and enjoy this crispy goodness!
What is ukoy?
It is the shrimp fritters of the Filipinos. Small shrimps with the head and shells still intact then mixed in a batter and fried until golden and crispy. It’s a versatile street food that that can be an afternoon snack, appetizer or pair it with steamed rice and voila! dinner!
How to make ukoy
Made with shrimps, papaya, and calabasa (squash) then mixed with simple batter to bind the ingredients. This street food is always paired with a vinegar dipping sauce that helps balance out the oiliness from frying. The common problem when cooking ukoy at home is it always separates when lowered into the hot oil. When frying, it’s important not to fidget with it, it takes patience to get it perfectly crispy and golden brown.
If you search it in the internet, other recipes are using a variety of other ingredients, including replacing the shrimp with small fish or calamari. Papaya and calabasa can be substituted with sweet potatoes, mung bean sprouts. The batter can also be made with regular flour, rice flour, or an egg and cornstarch mixture. It can also refer to omelettes made with mashed squash or sweet potato, with or without the shrimp.
Tips for an amiable experience
- If the ukoy are way too dark and burnt it means your oil is too hot, or you left them in too long.
- It falls apart in the oil! You either did not mix the batter properly or it is too thin.
- Alternative ingredients for papaya and squash are: bean sprouts, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes.
- You can use small shrimps but I used big ones and placed one on each ukoy.
The secret ingredient is always LOVE
You may also like
- Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimps recipe is your ticket to a delicious and quick dinner (ready in just 15 minutes!).
- Salted egg crispy shrimp is an explosion of flavors! A different take on cooking shrimps using salted eggs.
- Scrambled egg shrimp stir fry is not only great for breakfast but can be served for dinner too.
- 3 cups green papaya (grated)
- 2 cups calabasa (squash) (grated)
- 10 large shrimps (unshelled, with head) (or 1 ½ cup small shrimps)
- 1 medium onion (sliced)
- 4-5 cups cooking oil
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 ½ cup water
- 3 tsp achuete powder (for coloring )
Vinegar dipping sauce
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1 small red onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 2 pcs. bird's eye chili
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together grated green papaya and grated squash. Set aside.3 cups green papaya, 2 cups calabasa (squash)
- In a different mixing bowl. Mix together cornstarch, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.1 cup cornstarch, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Add water gradually while whisking until smooth and no traces of flour left. Tip in achuete powder and mix until fully incorporated.1 ½ cup water, 3 tsp achuete powder
- Heat cooking oil using a deep frying pan over medium high heat.4-5 cups cooking oil
- In a small plate or saucer, pour a 2-3 tbsp of batter and then place 1 cup of grated papaya and calabasa.
- Place 2 -3 pieces of onion slices then add 1 large shrimp or 5-6 small shrimps on top. Lastly, pour another 2 – 3 tbsp of batter on top.1 medium onion, 10 large shrimps (unshelled, with head)
- When oil is hot enough, slide the ukoy gently into the frying pan and try to anchor the batter with a spatula so it won't spread out.
- Cook each side for 4 minutes or until golden and crispy. Repeat the process until you finish all the batter and papaya. Serve and enjoy. Bon Appetit!
For the vinegar sauce.
- Add vinegar, red onions, garlic, chilis, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well.1/2 cup vinegar, 1 small red onion, 2 cloves garlic, 2 pcs. bird's eye chili, salt and pepper to taste