The Happy Home Cook: Ukoy (Shrimp Fritters)

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Ukoy (Photo by Jojo Sabalvaro-Tan)

Ukoy (Photo by Jojo Sabalvaro-Tan)

The last time we were in the Philippines, a friend sent me some ukoy (shrimp fritters) as a welcome gift. It was not the ukoy I was familiar with as they were small, extremely crispy and made with very, very tiny, almost micro shrimp. Ukoy is a popular snack or merienda food in the Philippines and the original version is usually made with fresh shrimp, togue (mung bean sprouts) and grated calabasa (squash) or camote (sweet potato). It is normally served with a garlic vinegar dipping sauce.

I loved the new version of ukoy made with the micro shrimp since they are very crispy and keeps crispy for a long time. It’s more like eating shrimp chips or kropek. I had such a hankering for the traditional ukoy one day that I decided to experiment and make some for our merienda. I was happy that my experiment was successful, with the ukoy turning out very crispy, just the way I remember it when my Auntie Ety prepared them when I was a young girl in the Philippines.

Here is the recipe:

Flour Mixture

¼ cup flour
1 cup cornstarch
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp annatto powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 large egg, beaten
1 ¼ cups water


1 cup small shrimps, rinsed. I used small dried whole shrimps, about 1 ½“ length, which are available at Asian stores (see photo)
1 cup togue (mung bean sprouts)
½ cup thinly sliced fried tokwa (firm tofu)
2 cups cooking oil

Small dried whole shrimps (Photo by Jojo Sabalvaro-Tan)

Small dried whole shrimps (Photo by Jojo Sabalvaro-Tan)


  1. Heat oil until it smokes in a deep pan, such as a wok. Oil should be really hot.

  2. Prepare flour mixture by combining the ingredients in a bowl. Mixture should be thinner than crepe batter.

  3. Mix in dried shrimp, togue and tokwa, if desired, to make the ukoy mixture. Variations: You may use just 1 ½ cups togue with no tokwa or substitute grated calabasa (squash) or camote (sweet potato) for the togue and/or tokwa.

  4. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the ukoy mixture into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the Ukoy in the pan for even cooking. Cook each side until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

  5. Remove cooked ukoy to a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.

  6. Transfer to a serving plate and serve with garlic vinegar sauce (1/4 cup vinegar, 1-2 cloves crushed garlic, salt and pepper to taste and an optional small hot pepper or siling labuyo). For the best enjoyment, serve freshly cooked and hot.

Jojo Sabalvaro-Tan

Jojo Sabalvaro-Tan

Jojo Sabalvaro-Tan is a retired corporate director of accounting, payroll and compensation at OfficeMax (formerly Boise Cascade Office Products). An alumnus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, she now devotes her time to volunteer work and her travels, art, food, quilting and needle arts, which she writes about in her blogs, Finding Art and Ang Kusina ni Lola Alfonsa.

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