Ukoy na Dilis Recipe

Ukoy na Dilis is a delicious fish fritter made with fresh anchovies. Crunchy and flavorful, they’re wonderful as an appetizer or main dish.

This ukoy na dilis is the third on our list of ukoy recipes, but while the previous two use shrimp and a variety of vegetables, anchovies are the star here.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly meal for the whole family that doesn’t sacrifice flavor and nutrition, this fish fritter dish is a must-try! Not only is it simple to make with relatively inexpensive ingredients, but also tasty and a good source of protein and carbohydrates to fuel your day.

Ingredient notes

  • Anchovies– locally known as dilis; are small forage fish used in condiments such as Worcestershire sauce or Caesar dressing. They are often deep-fried and served as a snack or side dish in Southeast Asian countries.
  • Egg– acts as a glue, binding ingredients together.
  • Cornstarch and flour– using part cornstarch helps prevent gluten formation for a lighter, crispier texture.
  • Fish sauce- adds savory flavor
  • Shallots and spring onions- for color, texture, and a touch of freshness
  • Salt and pepper- enhances flavor and adds zing
  • Water- use ice-cold water for a light, crispy batter
  • Oil– use a neutral-tasting, heat-stable oil such as avocado, peanut, grapeseed, or safflower,

Cleaning dilis

Although I go through the painstaking trouble of cleaning smelt fish when I prepare them deep-fried, anchovies are far too small for their insides to leave a significant bitter taste. Besides, have you ever tried cleaning a hundred or so of this fish? Forget about it!

Cooking Tips

  • Do not over-stir the batter to prevent gluten formation; a few lumps are fine.
  • Drain the fish well and pat dry with paper towels for the coating to adhere better.
  • For the best crunch, use enough oil to fully submerge the smelt and heat to an optimal temperature of 350 F to 375 F. Too high, and the fritters will burn before sufficiently cooked; too low, and they will absorb a lot more grease.
  • Do not overcrowd the pan and fry in batches as needed to keep the temperature from plummeting. Clean the oil with a strainer and heat it to 350 F before adding the next set.

Serving suggestions

While togue and kalabasa ukoy are commonly served as a midday snack, ukoy na dilis is more of a viand. Serve with steamed rice and spicy vinegar for dipping, or pair them with pinakbet or ginisang munggo for a truly Pinoy dinner meal.

How to store

  • As with most fried foods, ukoy are best enjoyed freshly cooked. Place the fried fish fritters on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200 F oven until serving.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

How to reheat

  • Oven– place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and bake in a 400 F oven for about 5 to 6 minutes until hot and crispy.
  • Air fryer– place in a single layer in the air fryer basket and air fry at 350 F for 3 to 5 minutes or until heated.
  • Microwave– NOT recommended as food can get soggy


  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 pound dilis
  • canola oil


    • Rinse fish and drain well. Pat dry.
    • In a pot over medium heat, heat about 2-inch deep of oil to about 350 F.
    • In a large bowl, combine cornstarch, flour, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well distributed.
    • Add egg, water, and fish sauce. Stir to combine.
    • Add fish, shallots and green onions. Gently stir to combine.
  • Using a large spoon, scoop about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the mixture and gently slide the mixture into the hot oil. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crisp.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove from the pan and drain on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Serve.

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