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  • Janelle

#FilipinoFoodSessions - Ukoy (Sweet Potato and Shrimp Fritters)

Hi guys!! I'm excited to share this new #FilipinoFoodSessions with all of you :) I love trying out new Filipino recipes and am super pumped that I was able to execute this dish! I'm beginning to feel more and more comfortable in the kitchen and am able to confidently make adjustments and tweaks to existing recipes where I see fit, so hopefully you enjoy this new post!

Today I'm sharing the recipe I used for Ukoy (pronounced: Ooo - Koy)!!! If you don't know what Ukoy is (you're missing out!!) it's basically a Filipino fritter made with shrimps and veggies. In my case, I used sweet potato and bean sprouts. I never really knew what was in Ukoy until I started researching the different recipes and apparently the true traditional version uses green papaya and annatto powder (to give it that yellow/orange color). But since I couldn't find either of those at the grocery story, I opted to use more "North American" ingredients :) And to be honest, I think the ukoy I've eaten has typically been made with sweet potato and bean sprouts!

Anyways, this is a Filipino dish that you can find at summer picnics and family parties. It's one of the treats that you are more likely to buy from a Filipino restaurant/store rather than make, because it can be pretty messy (lots of clean up and dishes!!) However, I will be on team #homecook because it's actually quite simple to make! And I felt very accomplished eating my crispy shrimp fritters and home made spicy vinegar :)

In regards to the spicy vinegar, you will come to notice that MANY Filipino dishes are accompanied by some sort of dipping sauce (sawsawan in tagalog).... growing up me and my sister used to call this "Magic Sauce". We had a LOT of "magic sauces" in our house, they ranged from variations of fish sauces, bagoong sauces (anchovy paste/"brown sauce") and like the one I'm sharing today: vinegar sauces. It's come to a point, where I won't fully enjoy my meal UNLESS it is accompanied by the RIGHT magic sauce lol. I attribute this to my Dad, who like me, has to eat specific meals with specific "magic sauces". I mean Kare-Kare without the bagoong alamang (and only the pink one), Torta without patis and lemon or balatong without bagoong and shallots? NO THANKS!!! haha (FYI this whole paragraph is a Filipino inside joke...sorry to those who don't get it ^_^ )

Oh and if you're interested in understanding more about Filipino "Magic Sauces", check out this great read on How the "sawsawan" culture has defined us.

Anyways back to my point and my point is: You have to make these Ukoy & the magic spicy vinegar sauce - it will impress all your Filipino friends as well as your non-Filipino friends too :) I mean look at how trendy this dish is! It's friggen made of sweet potato, it's a fritter and has an artisanal home made dipping sauce!!!! lol

Alright hope you enjoyed my little pre-recipe story telling...keep on scrolling for more pics and the recipe for my Ukoy and Spicy Vinegar!

This is what the completed batter looks like, the liquids fall to the bottom so just be sure to mix well!

The Magic Sauce!!! Homemade Spicy Vinegar, only minced up 1 Thai chili and that was enough heat!!

First bite impressions! Crispy and crunchy outside, with a perfectly cooked shrimp (eat the peel but not the tail!), bites of bean sprouts for added texture and yummy smooth sweet potato flavours through out :)

Ukoy - Filipino Shrimp Fritters

Adapted from: Kawaling Pinoy

Serves 8

1 egg, beaten

1 C cornstarch

1/2 C flour

3/4 C water

2 tsp fish sauce (patis)

2 tsp salt

2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

3 C grated sweet potato (about 1 large sweet potato)

2 C bean sprouts

1 C chopped green onions (about 2 small bunches)

20 shrimp with tails and shell on (try to find the smallest, I used 51/60...if you can find smaller shrimps leave the head on too!)

The "Magic Sauce" for Ukoy - Spicy Vinegar

1/4 C white vinegar (the Filipino brand is highly recommended: Datu Puti)

1 red Thai chili, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

pinch of salt

pinch of black pepper

1. Make the batter: In a large bowl, mix the egg, cornstarch, flour, water, fish sauce, salt and pepper until smooth. Don't worry if the batter looks very runny, mine did too! Then add in the sweet potato, bean sprouts, green onions and shrimp and mix until everything is combined. Feel free to add a few more pinches of salt and pepper, or a bit more fish sauce at this point.

2. In a large frying pan, add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan until it's about 1 inch high. Make sure the oil is nice and hot before frying the first ukoy. Keep a grease splatter screen on hand, once you start frying it can get a little messy!

3. Once the oil is hot, use a large slotted spoon and scoop up the ukoy batter (make sure you get a few shrimps in there!) and slide it into the frying pan. I was able to fry 2 ukoy's in my frying pan. Fry for 2-3 minutes (until browned and a crispy) and then flip using tongs and fry the other side for another 2-3 minutes. I cover the pan with a splatter screen while also acts as a shield when I attempt to flip the ukoy lol

4. In a large colander, place a layer of paper towel to absorb the excess oil from the fried ukoy. Once the ukoy are fully cooked, remove from the oil and place on top of the paper towel. Repeat until the batter is done. I was able to make 8 ukoy.

5. Once your ukoy are all fried, you can prepare the spiced vinegar rather quickly! In a small bowl, add in the vinegar, chili's, garlic, salt and pepper and stir together.

6. Now that you are finished frying and have the "magic sauce" prepared, it is time to serve, devour and enjoy!!! Ukoy is best served hot (shortly after frying) and I personally like to dip it in the sauce and eat with some white rice :)

Tips & Tricks:

  • Make sure to prep all your ingredients first, it will make the rest of this process go fairly smoothly! Grate the sweet potato on a box grater, rinse the bean sprouts (I like to soak them in a water bath), mince the green onions and defrost the shrimp if the are frozen.

  • Make sure you have a grease splatter screen to protect you from the hot oil, it also helps to reduce the amount of oil and grease you have to clean up after!

  • As with most deep frying dishes, make sure your kitchen is well ventilated and you burn some scented candles!

Bonus - Filipino Themed Coloring Pages

For all my Filipino blog readers or anyone who would like to enjoy the colorful Filipino culture, my Etsy Shop Cardinal Colors sells adorable printable coloring pages filled with iconic Philippines images - that can be downloaded instantly! This coloring pack includes 6 print-ready PDF's that have large 8.5'' x 11'' designs that can easily be printed on regular sized paper. Simply print from your home printer, visit your local photo center or print online as many times as you like (for personal use only)

This pack of cute Filipino /Philippines themed coloring sheets is full of adorable, clean, and fun images for anyone to enjoy expressing their creativity. Great for kids and anyone who loves to celebrate the Filipino culture!


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