Okoy or Ukoy (Shrimp and Vegetable Fritters) are lightly battered, crispy fritters paired with a spicy vinegar dipping sauce. They're delicious and easy to make with so many options.
If you like shrimp, you may also like to try Salt and Pepper Shrimp or Chili Garlic Shrimp.
This dish is inspired by Chef Tom Cunanan of Washington D.C.'s Bad Saint, a traditional Filipino restaurant. He uses cilantro, which adds a punch of flavor and color.
I used rice flour in place of cornstarch. Baking powder was substituted for club soda, making the fritters light and crunchy.
Ingredients you'll need
Notes and substitutions
- Shrimp: Tiny shrimps with all their parts intact are traditionally used for their crispiness and flavor. For larger sizes, remove the heads and shells, as they could be unpleasant to eat.
- Squash: Winter squashes, like calabaza (kalabasa in Filipino) and kabocha (or Japanese pumpkin), are sweet and smooth when cooked. Their skins are edible, so you don't have to peel them.
- Vegetables & herbs: Sweet potatoes and bean sprouts can also be used instead of squash. If you don't like cilantro, use herbs like parsley or chives.
How to make this recipe
(1)Make the dipping sauce by combining ¼ cup vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon minced shallot, and chilies (to taste) in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Rinse the squash and remove any bumps on the skin. (2)Cut a third or half, about a pound. (3)Remove the seeds with a spoon. Refrigerate the unused portion or make Pinakbet with Crispy Pork Belly.
(4)Cut it into thin strips using a julienne slicer, a julienne peeler, or a knife.
(5)Cut a medium carrot the same way.
(6)Thinly slice an onion. (7)Roughly chop cilantro stems and leaves (about 1 cup).
(8)Combine squash, carrots, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss them together.
(9)For tiny shrimps, rinse them multiple times and remove any foreign bodies. They are sharp on both ends, so be careful when cleaning them. For regular-size shrimp, peel them and remove the vein. Feel free to slice, chop, or cut them.
(10)Season 8 ounces shrimp with salt and pepper, and mix it with the vegetables.
(11)Make the batter by combining 1 cup rice flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, and ¾ cup of water. It will be thin and smooth, like a slurry. (12)Pour it over the vegetables and toss them together.
(13)Set a skillet with an inch of oil over high heat. Dip a wooden spoon handle or a chopstick; it should steadily bubble when it's hot and ready.
(14)Spread about ½ cup of the mixture on a large spoon or turner, then slide it into the hot oil. Fry each side for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Drain them on paper towels.
PRO TIP: To prevent greasy or soggy fritters, keep the oil hot. When the temperature drops too low, they absorb more oil.
Serve Okoy or Ukoy (Shrimp and Vegetable Fritters) with the spicy vinegar dipping sauce as an appetizer or a snack.
Some people might enjoy eating it with rice, while others prefer to have it with a more savory dish like Filipino Pork Adobo. Experiment a little and see what you like best!
Frequently asked questions
Okoy should be crispy and not greasy. A thin batter allows the flavors of the shrimp and vegetables to shine.
Yes, this recipe is gluten-free. Rice flour, cornstarch, and potato starch are all gluten-free and ideal for frying.
Avoid overcrowding the pan to prevent the temperature from dropping and make them absorb more oil. A thick batter can also make them less crispy. You can add baking powder or use carbonated water instead of plain water to produce a lighter and crispier okoy.
An air fryer is not recommended for cooking okoy since the batter is wet. However, you can reheat the fritters in it. If you want to cut back on the oil, you can also bake them on a baking sheet in the oven.
More about okoy or ukoy (shrimp and vegetable fritters)
Here are more frequently asked questions about Okoy or Ukoy (Shrimp and Vegetable Fritters), including extra tips, troubleshooting, and other information.
Watch how I make it here
Other appetizers and sides you may like
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Okoy or Ukoy (Shrimp and Vegetable Fritters)
- Julienne peeler or slicer
For the dipping sauce:
- ¼ cup cane or white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot or red onion
- bird's eye chilies to taste, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
For the fritters:
- 8 ounces shrimp (see note)
- 1 pound kabocha or calabaza squash julienned
- 1 medium carrot julienned
- 1 small onion sliced thinly
- 1 cup cilantro (stems and leaves) chopped
- salt to taste (I used 1 teaspoon kosher salt; use less for table salt)
- pepper to taste
- 1 cup rice flour sub: cornstarch or potato flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- ¾ cup water
- canola or other vegetable oil for frying
- Make the dipping sauce by combining vinegar, sugar, shallot, and chilies in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine squash, carrots, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss them together.
- Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, and mix them with the vegetables.
- Make the batter by combining rice flour, baking powder, fish sauce, and ¾ cup of water.
- Pour it over the vegetables and toss them together.
- Set a skillet with an inch of oil over high heat.
- Spread about ½ cup of the mixture on a large spoon or turner, then slide it into the hot oil.
- Fry each side for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Drain them on paper towels.
Yummy!!! This is the best okoy i’ve made. Thanks!!!
Happy to hear that! Thank you, Kim! =)
I tried this recipe. And it did not fail me. Thanks for the tips and instructions. I used butternut squash and it turn out so good. Thank you, again
Hello Jomelyn! Thanks for trying it out and I'm so glad you liked it. Thanks for the butternut squash idea, too. I will try that next time! =)
Love the idea of squash and carrots on it!
Thanks Nora for this recipe, can’t wait to try this out.
Thank you, Dennis! I hope you'll like it.
Food is amazing!
This recipe is awesome! It is meticulously done right. New cooks will certainly find this extremely helpful. Thank you!
My fav ukoy recipe! 😋
And the vinegar dip yumm .. salivating!
Thank you! I can’t wait to try your other recipes.
Love this! Will definitely try to make it
This is exactly how I remember it growing up. Light and crisp. It fills you up. My 3 boys can't stop munching on these..... excellent recipe! Thank you.
Hey Anthony! It's my pleasure. So glad your boys liked them.
Recipe meticulously done right. This is awesome! Thank you!
Wow, this is one of my favorites! Will make tomorrow, can be eaten as healthy snacks or for lunch with vinegar as dipping. Please keep on sharing Nora.
This recipe is so good! Managed to achieve the crispiness - small wins! Btw, the vinegar dip is a must!
Thanks Nora! ♥️
Thanks, Tin! I am so glad you liked it!
Absolutely love this recipe. Definitely will be a household staple😍😍😍