If you’ve been to a “Pasalubong Center” (a souvenir shop usually found around tourist attractions in the Philippines), chances are you have seen those deep fried baby shrimp fritters they sell. They usually come stacked in a small mound on a disposable plate then sealed with plastic wrap. Munching on them is such a delight that you wouldn’t even notice how much you’ve eaten until it’s all gone.
For so many years, I have forgotten about them. One day while perusing the open freezer section in a nearby Asian store, I saw an unassuming rectangular package that read “Alamang” (baby shrimps). This got me excited that I bought more than a couple. It instantly brought me back to that moment when I had ‘em last. What can I say, these sort of things excite me! Immediately, my brain started brewing possibilities on how to achieve that perfectly crispy Alamang Fritters!
After much thought (and play on ingredients), I started my quest to make my own style of this delicacy. The goal was to produce a version that is super crispy with that music-to-the-ear crunch, flavorful and the ultimate test would be the length of time it stays in that “perfect munching” state. I know it was an ambitious goal but I was determined to get to the finish line. Until one day, it happened … I was able to tick all the marks. Success! And the extra pounds I put on was tangible proof that I enjoyed every morsel of these beauties … .with a spoonful of rice in almost every bite. No judgment please.
This can be eaten as a snack , pulutan (bar food with some ice cold beer) or an appetizer. But for me, it’s a dish that’s best eaten with rice. Whichever way you prefer, remember to always douse it with spiced vinegar before landing these in your mouth…the dip makes all the difference!
This is a very easy recipe. Probably, the most challenging part would be finding yourself those packs of frozen baby shrimps (alamang). But once you got that covered, the hardest part is over. Fry to a shattering crispness and drain on a rack. And as long as it’s cooled completely and sealed in a food container, it will stay crunchy for a few days …. guaranteed! Now, how great is that?
Crispiest Shrimp Okoy (Shrimp Fritters)
- Colander/Fine sieve
- Small heat-proof saucer (like ceramic, not plastic)
- Metal rack/large strainer, to drain oil after frying
- 400 g pack Frozen alamang unseasoned baby shrimps* see Notes
- 1 ¼ cups rice flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric optional
- Canola oil for frying
- ½ cup vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- A heavy pinch of chili flakes or 2 Thai chilies chopped
- Thaw and rinse the shrimps in cold running water. Drain well.
- Combine all the remaining ingredients (except the oil) in a bowl and whisk until well mixed.
- Heat about an inch of oil in a large frying pan.
- Grease a heat-proof saucer with a bit of oil then spread 2 tablespoons of shrimp evenly (covering about ⅔ of the plate). Drizzle 3 to 4 tablespoons of the batter over the shrimps, covering most of it. Do not add a lot of batter.** (see Notes)
- Lower the plate (almost touching the oil) then slide the mixture into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain on a rack to remove excess oil.
- Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Serve fritters with the dipping sauce. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container.*** (see Notes)
**Use as little batter as possible and spread thinly in the pan when frying. This creates crunchier fritters.
***Cool the fritters completely before storing. Leftovers stay crunchy for a few days as long as it’s kept in an airtight container.