Here in the US, fall means squash and pumpkins and so one of my recipes today includes pumpkin (Ukoy na Kalabasa). The other is a simple Thai Fish Cake Recipe. Both are savory and easy to make seafood recipes.
Crispy Shrimp Fritters Recipe
Pumpkin vs. Squash (Kalabasa)
Pumpkin is a type of squash. They belong to the same plant family. Squash is considered a fruit and in the US, there are 2 major categories: summer squash or winter squash.
Pumpkin has an orangey color and has a stiff and spiky stem. Pumpkin seeds are edible. They are use as decorations for Halloween because October is the start of fall when pumpkins are harvested.
In other words, squash and pumpkin can be used interchangeably in recipes. In the Philippines, we have the calabaza variety which is a type of squash.
Crispy Shrimp Fritters (Ukoy na Kalabasa Recipe)
Prep time: 15 Cooking Time: 15 Serves: 4
- 12 pcs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 cup pumpkin squash, cut in thin strips
- 1 cup flour
- 1 pinch pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 cup water/chicken broth/shrimp broth
- 1 pc. egg, beaten
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup cooking oil for frying
- In a bowl, mix flour with water. Add egg, salt and pepper. Add pepper flakes if desired.
- Add squash strips to the mix.
- Heat oil in pan
- Put 1/4 cup of mixture into pan. Add 2 shrimps on top of each mound.
- Fry until crispy and place on plate with paper towel to absorb excess oil
- Serve with dipping sauce.
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- ground black pepper
- Thai chilies chopped (optional)
How to Serve Crispy Shrimp Fritters (Ukoy):
These shrimp fritters (okoy) can be eaten by itself as a snack or eaten a s part of a meal with rice. Use the dipping sauce for that contrast of salty and sour flavors that are so good. It is best eaten as soon as you cook it so that it is still crispy.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin/Squash:
You have probably heard the guideline ‘Eat the Rainbow’ which means eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables because they have the most nutrients. Squash is rich in Vitamin A, B6 and C. Yellow squash has loads of manganese which helps with bone strength and it helps your body process fats and carbs,
Eating squash can strengthen the immune system, prevent cancer, manage diabetes, protect your heart, It can prevent inflammation so helps with arthritis and reduces blood pressure.
It is delicious too and goes with many sweet and savory dishes. What’s not to like?
Simple Fish Cake recipe
One weekend, we grilled two whole tilapias in the backyard. It ended up being too much as we also grilled chicken. I picked the fish meat off the bones and made these fish cakes. You can also make it from baked fish fillets. Any fish with a whitish meat will do. Salmon or tuna or trout can be made into fish cakes.
Thai Fish Cake Recipe
Prep time: 20 Cook time: 25 Serves: 4 people
- 2 cups fish meat, firm and white, shredded
- 2 pc eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup tbsp flour or cornmeal
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 pc lemon, cut in wedges
- 3 pc green onions, chopped
- 2 tbsp fish sauce (can replace with soy sauce or 1 tbsp salt)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (can be replaced with catsup and chili flakes)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- extra chili sauce for dipping
How to Cook Thai fish Cake:
- Mix fish in a bowl with cilantro, flour, fish sauce, eggs, and chili sauce.
- Add green onions and black pepper and mix.
- Heat cooking oil in pan
- Place 2 tbsp mounds of fish mix into pan, Press flat.
- Fry on medium to high heat around 4 minutes each side until crispy.
- Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.
Note: Instead of using tilapia or trout, you can also use silverfish. These are tiny fishes that are called ‘dulong’ in the Philippines. I only see this in Asian stores but it makes for a really crispy fish cake and you do not have to shred the meat.
How to Serve Thai Fish Cakes:
Serve fish cakes with a salad with a sweet/sour dressing. A good choice is Thai salad with lime dressing. Add lemon or lime wedges to the plate. Complete this with a small bowl of dipping sauce of sweet chili sauce.
This can be served as a snack or appetizer or can be eaten with rice or salad for a complete meal.
A Word About Fish sauce:
You may have seen that I use fish sauce in some of my recipes. I try to put substitutes when I do this because I know it is not readily available and it is not for everybody. Fish sauces are made by salting and fermenting fish, and then adding water, salt, and a touch of sugar for contrast. It has a funky smell but, I would still like you to try it. Why? Because it is an umami bomb.
It gives a great savory taste to dishes that makes you want to keep eating. A lot of chefs use it even in non-Asian dishes. It is a cook’s secret ingredient. If you cannot get hold of fish sauce or you want to ease yourself in, try Worcestershire sauce. Worcestershire sauce also has anchovies.
Fish sauce is used mostly in Thai, Vietnamese and Filipino foods. It is actually a better ingredient than salt. See this article on why fish sauce is a healthier way to get your salt fix. Why? Because you only need a small portion of it to make dishes tastier, unlike table salt.
Here’s a link to
And don’t forget the delicious sweet chili sauce:
What do You Think?
Which one do you like better? The Shrimp Fritters recipe or the Simple Fish cake recipe? The fish cake is a little more labor intensive unless you are using silverfish. But it is a good way to make kids eat fish because the fish cakes look a lot more appetizing than fish fillets.
The Shrimp Fritters recipe is healthier because of the addition of pumpkin or squash. But, you can add tomatoes and onions to the fish cake and make it have more antioxidants. Eating both dishes with a salad adds a nutritive punch.
Either way, both dishes are good substitutes for red meat or chicken or pork. A little of everything is best for a well balanced diet. Enjoy!
Kain Na! (Let’s Eat).