What comes to mind when someone mentions Okoy? To me, it is Shrimp Okoy—small shrimps, just a little bigger than alamang but smaller than pansahog suahe, mixed with julienned potatoes or sweet potatoes, with batter as binder, fried in hot oil to a golden crisp, and eaten with a vinegar dip. It has always been Shrimp Okoy until I got married and my husband Raff brought me to his home province, Marinduque, for a vacation.
That’s where I was introduced to Dulong Okoy. Dulong is silver fish, a type of tiny fish that is even smaller than dilis (anchovies) and which you catch in schools. It is bountiful in the Southern Tagalog island province, and one of the usual things that they do with dulong is turn them into Dulong Patties. Sometimes, they make them a bit thick, like patties or burgers, so that when they are fried, they are crunchy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Sometimes, they make them really flat so that when they fry them, they turn out really crunchy, just like okoy.
Like Shrimp Okoy, Dulong Okoy can be eaten with a vinegar dip. But it is best with ketchup. Just recently, I ordered a kilogram of fresh dulong from the fish vendor on wheels in our subdivision who comes by the house almost every day, and he brought me my order the next morning. I turned half of it into Dulong Okoy, and Raff and I enjoyed it with store-bought Roasted Sesame Dressing. The combination turned out to be surprisingly good, too.
Crispy Fried Dulong Okoy
1/2 kg. dulong (silver fish)
1 large egg
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
vegetable oil for frying
ketchup, vinegar or roasted sesame dressing
1. Wash dulong under running water, using a strainer. Drain off excess water.
2. Transfer dulong to a bowl.
3. Add egg.
4. Add all-purpose flour.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Mix well.
7. Heat oil in pan.
8. Spoon a small amount of dulong mixture into the hot oil. Flatten patty with the back of a spoon as flat as possible.
9. Fry until golden brown and crispy. Flip over and cook the other side.
10. Remove from oil and drain off excess oil on paper towel.
11. Serve with ketchup, vinegar or roasted sesame dressing.