In Malaysia (and other places in the region), these are usually found as roadside snacks. Some guy will have a giant wok full of oil on a cart, and will fry up a batch of these (or other similar things) to order. I’ve never had them from the source; my first experience with them came from a package of pre-mixed cucur flour purchased in a Malay-district shopping mall grocery store in Singapore. Just add water and deep-fry. Making them from scratch isn’t much more complicated, though.
These are “shrimp fritters”. Udang is the Malay word for “prawn” if I remember right. Cucur (“choo-churr”) is the word meaning “fritter”, I guess. What this recipe makes is basically a thick batter full of shrimp and spices that you’ll drop spoonfuls of into hot oil.
Ingredients (serves 2 as meal, 4 as snack):
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne chili powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 shallot or 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 8 shrimps, raw, thawed, peeled, deveined, tails removed and rough chopped
- the green parts of one green onion
- vegetable oil for deep-frying
Serve with: cucumber slices, chili sauce, peanut sauce
Things you need: medium-sized mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a large fork and spoon, large chopping knife, a wok or a deep saute or frying pan (like about 3 inches deep, at least, and don’t use a non-stick pan!), a plate with a pile of 4 or 5 paper towels (to place the cucur after frying), metal tongs or a “slotted spoon” to remove stuff from the oil
- You’re going to mix the dry ingredients first. This is because once you add the water to the flour, it will become very hard to mix other dry ingredients into the batter. Plus, if you overwork the batter, it will eventually turn into a slime. And that shit is gross.
- Measure out the flour into the mixing bowl.
- Measure out the chili powder, turmeric, sugar and salt and add to the flour. Using the fork, mix all this stuff together as evenly as you can. Otherwise the flavour won’t be even throughout the batter.
- Get out your wok (or whatever you’re using) and pour enough oil into it to have it roughly 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep. Put it on your stove top and turn the heat on. I use the setting around 6 on my stove. It will take about 15 minutes to get the right temperature. You don’t want to make the oil too hot because oil will turn into smoke, and then your eyes will cry.
- Chop the green onion stems. You only need to slice across the width of it once. It will make little green rings. This is pretty.
- Add the green onion, shallot/onion, and chopped shrimp to the flour mix. Stir it up. Little darlin’.
- Add the water 1/2 cup at a time. It doesn’t have to be perfect half-cups, just don’t add it all at once. After you add a portion of the water, blend it in with the fork. Once you get 1 1/2 cups of water into it, it should be fairly wet, but thick too. You want to stir the batter until all the flour is wet (no dry powdery spots) and then stop! If you keep stirring, you’ll eventually get slime, as mentioned previously.
- Is the oil hot? You can check by flicking a drop of water in it (seriously just one drop). Does it immediately slide across the oil and make popping sounds? That shit is hot.
- Using a spoon, drop a ball of batter about the size of 1-2 golf balls into the oil. If crazy bubbling immediately starts happening around the batter, you know your cucur is cooking. If no bubbles happen, your oil isn’t hot enough yet. Anyway, assuming your cucur is cooking, add about 5-6 drops of batter to the oil.
- These will take about 2-4 minutes to cook in the oil, depending on how big the batter lumps you added were. But you will know when they’re done because the little edges of the dough will now be golden brown and any onion exposed to the oil will probably turn dark brown. Feel free to lift the fritters out of the oil to check them.
- Remove the fritters from the oil and space them out on the paper towel plate to drain off the excess oil. Then keep frying batches until the batter is used up (about 3 batches).
Then you eat them. They go pretty good with a sweet chili sauce. I always keep a bottle Maggi-brand mild chili sauce for snacking. Maggi is like the Heinz of Southeast Asia (Maggi is actually owned by Nestle) and bottles of their chili sauce were on a lot of the small restaurant tables in Thailand, for example. You can find it at larger Loblaws by the ketchups.
What else can you do with this:
- add 2 sliced red chili peppers (remove the seeds first) or 1-2 tsp of chili paste (sambal oelek) to make a more spicy fritter
- add other vegetables like a few tbsp of sweet corn kernels, or chopped bean sprouts
- omit the shrimp for a vegetarian option
Hey, I didn’t take that photograph. It’s from here. The recipe is fairly similar to mine, but is written in Malay (I’m assuming).