Squash okoy or Filipino kalabasa fritters — perfect if you’re looking for something other than pumpkin pie or butternut squash soup to make this fall. Made of kalabasa or kabocha squash, it’s a truly unique and creative way to make use of this season’s favourite ingredient.
(For other unique pumpkin and squash recipes, check out this delicious recipe collection. It has everything from breakfast to dinner to dessert!).
Hey you guys. I tried to ignore it for as long as I can but there’s no denying it anymore — fall is here.
While some afternoons are still nice and warm, I already feel the crisp fall air in the mornings.
This week actually marks the official start of autumn so what the heck, let’s just embrace it and forget our silliness that summer will last forever (or was that just me?).
I didn’t want to go the usual pumpkin and butternut squash route though. There’s already a gazillion pumpkin-flavoured things out there for us to enjoy.
Instead, I’m sharing a beloved Filipino squash recipe — my uncle’s recipe for squash fritters (also called squash okoy or kalabasa fritters). It’s not out of this world I know but this uses kabocha squash and I bet that’s something you haven’t tried before.
And the local name for this dish is karamba. Now who can resist a dish with a name that makes you want to dance?
What is kalabasa or kabocha squash
Kabocha squash is squat and sweet and the kind of squash most common in the Philippines.
It’s called kalabasa locally (pronounced exactly as it’s spelled). Some people also call it a Japanese pumpkin, but here in North America it’s known as kabocha. Potato, po-tah-to.
Try it, it’s great. Read more about it here.
How to make squash okoy
Making squash okoy is quick and easy.
1. PREPARE FLOUR MIXTURE. In a medium bowl, stir flour, cornstarch, egg, water, fish sauce, minced garlic, salt and pepper until smooth.
2. ADD VEGETABLES. Add kabocha squash, carrots and green onions and stir until well combined.
3. FRY UNTIL GOLDEN BROWN. Put about a cup of oil in a large skillet and once it’s hot enough, scoop about ¼ cup squash batter into the oil and fry until the bottom turns a light golden brown. Flip and fry until the other side is golden brown too.
4. ENJOY! Put the fried fritters on a tray lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil. Serve immediately.
The best way to eat kalabasa fritters
So how do you eat these kabocha squash fritters anyway?
Technically this is a snack (or merienda). But because Filipinos are rice-obsessed, many eat it with rice or as a side dish.
What’s universal is Filipinos dip it in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, red chili, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. There’s really no recipe for the dipping sauce as everything is done to taste.
Because I’m lazy though, I just mix vinegar, soy sauce and sriracha and call it a day. The sweet, salty, crunchy karamba pairs extremely well with the sour, salty and chili sauce.
So go ahead. Go kabocha crazy. And let’s bid adieu to summer together. Aye caramba!
Other delicious Filipino recipes
Filipino cuisine is delicious and unlike no other. Here are other unique recipes you can try:
- Ube is purple yam and is a Filipino favourite. It’s usually used in desserts, like in this recipe for ube cupcakes with ube whipped cream frosting.
- Pancit canton is probably one of the most well-known Filipino dishes. It’s similar to Chinese chow mein.
- If you’re looking for something warm and cozy, this chicken sopas recipe (the Filipino version of chicken macaroni soup) is just what you need.
- And if it’s something cold and refreshing you want, ice buko or Filipino coconut popsicles are a wonderful treat.
Squash Okoy (Filipino Kalabasa Fritters)
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 pc large egg
- ⅓ cup cold water
- 1 tbsp fish sauce see notes
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup julienned kabocha squash
- ¼ cup julienned carrots
- ¼ cup sliced green onions
- Oil for frying
- In a medium bowl, stir ½ cup flour, ¼ cup cornstarch, 1 egg, ⅓ cup water, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 2 cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper until smooth.
- Add 1 cup kabocha squash, ¼ cup carrots and ¼ cup green onions and stir until well combined.
- Put about a cup of oil in a large skillet and once it's hot enough, scoop about a heaping ¼ cup squash batter into the oil, flatten slightly and fry on medium heat until the bottom turns a light golden brown. Flip and fry until the other side is golden brown too.
- Put the fried fritters on a tray lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil. Serve immediately.
- This recipe yields 5-6 fritters, depending on how big you make them.
- You can find fish sauce in Asian stores. Most people don’t like it because it smells fishy (thus the name!) but it’s really one of the key ingredients in Asian cooking (you know that flavour you just can’t put your finger on? Most likely fish sauce!). You can opt to skip it though – just up the salt.
- If your skillet is large enough, you can fry 2 fritters at a time. Not more than 2 though.
- The fritters tend to get soggy the longer they sit so best to serve immediately.
Nutritional information are estimates only.
Did you make this pinoy squash recipe? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
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My husband loved this. We have so many kabocha squash from our garden and I had to look for a recipe to make with it and found this. Can you freeze the batter? And fry later? I did the vinegar, soy sauce, and siracha sauce mixture and that was a great pair for the fritter.
Hi Monica! Glad you guys like them. I haven’t tried freezing the batter so not sure. It might be a better option to freeze the fritters themselves. Then just pop them quickly in the oven to make them crispy again. If you freeze the batter, I’m afraid the vegetables would ice and your batter would become watery.
Tried this and loved it! Thanks for sharing!
Glad you liked them Bea!
This recipe looks super yummy and I will try it tonight. However, I am getting away from fried food. Is there a way I can cook this in the oven and still make it crispy? Thank you for sharing recipe.
Hi Marg. Totally get avoiding fried food. As an alternative we usually bake on a rack (i.e. put a rack on a baking sheet to get the food crispy on all sides) unfortunately we’ve never tried it on these fritters so I’m not sure if it will cook through. Worth a shot though. Maybe you can start with a small batch and see? Would love to know how it goes!
I have a friend from Japan who recently introduced me to these. Thanks for the recipe.
Nice! I think Kabocha is the same kind of squash they use as tempura 🙂
Thanks Ana! Red’s the cook and I’m the baker but she is also my prep assistant a lot of times haha. Good thing she enjoys being in the kitchen too (and hey, she gets first dibs on the goodies so no complaints eh?)
Ooh, the squash is my favorite part of pinakbet, so these look so interesting to me! Will have to try!
OMG I haven’t had pinakbet in a very long time!! And yes, that’s my favourite part of pinakbet too 🙂 Hope you like these fritters Stef!
My fmaily loves okoy though we usually put shrimp and a little bit of pork on it. This is a nice all-veggie option.