Shrimp shells usually end up in the food waste bin after making recipes like shrimp tempura, shrimp toast, or a shrimp katsu sando, which call for peeled and deveined shrimp. But don’t throw those shells out! You can fry them up to make snacks like our crispy sinigang shrimp shells, or in this case, extra crunchy Filipino fritters (okoy).
Okoy is usually made with small whole shrimp. Using the shells from medium-sized shrimp doubles down on the texture, making the okoy extra crisp and crunchy. Serve it as a merienda, an appetizer, or ulam with rice and zingy vinegar sauce.
Use up leftover vegetables
Kalabasa and carrots are common additions to okoy, but almost any vegetable will work. Throw in some zucchini, potatoes, or even cabbage for something a little closer to Japanese okonomiyaki.
Whatever you use, just make sure to shred it thinly, and squeeze out the moisture before adding it to the okoy mixture. This is a great way to use up vegetables laying around in your crisper!
What soda water does
Adding carbonated drinks to batter creates air pockets that expand while deep-frying. This gives the food a light, crisp texture once it comes out of the oil.
But those bubbles won’t be around forever. As my lola used to say, once you twist that cap and hear the soft hiss of carbon escaping the bottle, the espiritu of the soft drink starts to fade! Keep your soda water cold, and get all your frying done in the next 15 minutes. If you let the batter sit for too long, you’ll lose the benefits of using soda water.
We used Sprite, which you can substitute with sparkling water or club soda. Steer clear from strongly flavored soda! You probably won’t enjoy Coke or Royal-flavored okoy. And if you don’t have any soda, plain water gets the job done too—it just won’t be as light and crispy.
Shrimp Shell Okoy
- 8 oz (around 220g) shrimp shells
- 1 lb (450g) grated squash
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1 small onion, sliced thinly
- 1 cup scallions, sliced into batons
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1 cup rice flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¾ cup soda water
- canola or vegetable oil for frying
Vinegar Dipping Sauce
- 1 cup cane vinegar
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 red chili, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
Prep okoy mixture: Combine shrimp shells, grated squash, carrots, onions, and scallions in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and set aside.
Mix with batter: Make the batter by combining rice flour, baking powder, fish sauce, and soda water. Pour the batter over the vegetables and fold until just combined. Avoid overmixing! You want to keep the bubbles in the batter intact.
Deep-fry: Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a deep pan over high heat. The oil should be at 160°C or 320°F on an instant-read thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, check the temperature by dropping a bit of the batter into the oil. If it sizzles and floats within 5 seconds, it’s ready for frying. Spread about ½ cup of the okoy mixture on a large spoon, and slide it into the hot oil. Fry each side for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Serve: Make dipping sauce by combining cane vinegar, garlic, red onion, and chilies in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve okoy hot alongside the dipping sauce.