Ukoy is one of the most popular items on our menu which many customers try to cook at home. The most common problem I hear about when cooking ukoy at home is that the fritter always disintegrates when lowered into the hot oil. I tell them to anchor the batter on a banana leaf and it always works.
Ed. note: Besa shared this recipe with us as part of our Filipino Food episode.]
1/2 banana leaf, thawed if frozen
3/4 cup rice flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup julienned Napa cabbage
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup julienned snowpeas
1 cup julienned leeks (white part only)
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
1 cup chopped peeled and deveined shrimp
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 - 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Canola oil, for frying
Rice vinegar with sliced garlic and chopped chilies to taste, for serving.
1. Using a damp towel, wipe the banana leaf clean on both sides. Cut out 4-by-4-inch squares from the banana leaf. Set aside on a baking sheet. Brush one side lightly with oil.
2. To make the batter, sift the rice flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, beat the egg with 3/4 cup water, then stir this into the dry ingredients, to form a thick but smooth batter. Refrigerate the batter for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Fill a deep saucepan or wok with 3 inches canola oil and warm over medium heat until the temperature is between 350° F and 365°F.
4. While the oil is heating, prepare the filling: Combine the Napa cabbage, carrots, snowpeas, leeks, bean sprouts, shrimp, fish sauce, and black pepper in a large bowl. Stir the batter and pour just enough to the filling to coat the ingredients. Sprinkle 1 - 2 tablespoons flour and toss the mixture to firm it up if necessary (it should not be too wet).
5. Put about 1/3 cup of the filling on the oiled side of the banana leaf square. Place a square in a spider and lower it into the oil. Fry until the fritter is set (about a minute) and remove the banana leaf. Continue frying for another minute until the fritter is lightly browned. Flip and brown the other side until crisp, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Lift out of the oil with the spider and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Repeat until all the filling is fried. Serve hot with the vinegar dipping sauce.
Reprinted with permission from Memories of Philippine Kitchens by Amy Besa. Copyright 2006 Harry N. Abrams.
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