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Authentic Filipino Ukoy Recipe: Savory Shrimp and Vegetable Fritters

Authentic Filipino Ukoy Recipe: Savory Shrimp and Vegetable Fritters

Ukoy, a beloved Filipino street food, comes to life in this homemade version. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, these fritters showcase plump shrimp, crunchy bean sprouts, and colorful vegetables, all held together by a light, tempura-like batter. The accompanying spicy-sour dipping sauce elevates the dish to new heights, making it impossible to stop at just one bite.

This recipe is the result of extensive experimentation to achieve the ideal balance of ingredients and textures. We’ve carefully selected the best vegetables, perfected the shrimp preparation, and crafted a batter that delivers the ultimate crunch. The result? A plate of ukoy that will transport you straight to the bustling streets of the Philippines.

Mastering the Vegetable Mix

Our ukoy features a trinity of vegetables: bean sprouts, carrots, and sweet potato. This combination provides a delightful mix of textures and flavors, from the crisp sprouts to the slightly sweet root vegetables. Each bite offers a new sensation, complementing the succulent shrimp perfectly.

Shrimp: The Star of the Show

We’ve opted for peeled, headless shrimp in this recipe, making the ukoy easier to eat without sacrificing flavor. A quick marinade in fish sauce and soy sauce ensures that each shrimp packs a punch of umami goodness, elevating the entire dish.

The Secret to the Perfect Batter

After extensive testing, we found that rice flour creates the ideal batter for ukoy. It delivers a satisfying crunch without being too delicate or heavy. The result is a fritter that holds together beautifully while still allowing the individual components to shine.

Our ukoy-making technique involves carefully layering the ingredients on a large spoon before frying. This method ensures that each fritter has the perfect ratio of vegetables to shrimp, creating a harmonious blend of flavors and textures in every bite.

Serve these ukoy hot, accompanied by the tangy dipping sauce, and watch them disappear in minutes. Get ready to fall in love with this Filipino classic!

Ukoy (Filipino Shrimp and Vegetable Fritters)

Ingredients

For the Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) cane vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) fish sauce
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bird’s eye chile, stemmed and thinly sliced

For the Ukoy Fritters:

  • 8 large shrimp (about 4 ounces; 115g), peeled and deveined
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) soy sauce
  • 6 ounces (about 2 cups; 170g) mung bean sprouts
  • 4 small carrots (about 8 ounces; 225g), peeled and cut into 2 1/2-inch-long by 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks
  • 1 small sweet potato (about 8 ounces; 225g), peeled and cut into 2 1/2-inch-long by 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks
  • 9 fluid ounces (265ml) ice-cold water
  • 6 ounces (1 cup; 170g) white rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt plus more for seasoning; for table salt, use half as much by volume
  • 5 cups (1.2L) vegetable oil or other neutral oil for frying

Directions

  1. Prepare the Dipping Sauce: In a small bowl, combine vinegar, fish sauce, garlic, and chile. Mix well and set aside to let the flavors meld.
  2. Marinate the Shrimp: In a separate bowl, mix shrimp with fish sauce and soy sauce. Allow to marinate for 10-30 minutes, infusing the shrimp with savory flavors.
  3. Create the Vegetable Mix: In a large bowl, toss together bean sprouts, carrots, and sweet potato. In another bowl, whisk water, rice flour, and salt until smooth. Pour the batter over the vegetables and gently fold until evenly coated.
  4. Fry the Ukoy: Preheat oven to 200°F (95°C) and set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Heat oil in a Dutch oven to 375°F (190°C). Form each ukoy by mounding 1/2 cup (85g) of the vegetable mixture on a large spoon, nestling a shrimp in the center, and topping with another 1/2 cup (85g) of vegetables. Press gently to form a 3-inch disc. Carefully slide into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, season lightly with salt, and keep warm in the oven.
  5. Repeat and Serve: Skim any browned bits from the oil, return to 375°F (190°C), and repeat the process with remaining ingredients. Serve the ukoy immediately with the prepared dipping sauce for a crispy, flavorful treat.

Make-Ahead and Storage

For the best experience, enjoy ukoy immediately after cooking. However, you can prepare the dipping sauce up to 1 week in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
220 Calories
9g Fat
28g Carbs
6g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 220
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 18mg 6%
Sodium 639mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 28g 10%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 10mg 49%
Calcium 40mg 3%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 284mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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