Croquettes are a pretty big part of my culture (as I mention in my post about Belgian foods), and it’s also one of my favorite foods ever. I loooove the way they’re made in Belgium (I always need to have fondue parmesan every time I go), but I also love the way they taste in Japan. The Japanese word for it is “korokke,” and although it’s considered a “cheaper” food there and might generally not be as refined as it is in Belgian restaurants, I love all kinds of croquettes. While I’d seen my mother make them before, I’d never made them myself, so I was a little worried about the process.
I just made these with plain potatoes in them, as that might very well be my favorite kind of croquette. The first step to making these is to make good mashed potatoes. I just peeled some potatoes, started heating them up for a bit in water so that they become just soft enough to cut them into chunks, then I boiled them in salted water (I forgot to salt them at first, and added the salt halfway through and it was still okay, but you can always add a bit of extra salt after boiling them if you need to). A good way to check if they’re soft enough is to poke it with a chopstick – if it goes through, it’s ready to go. Drain it, and start mashing~
I wish I had a potato masher, that would have made things a lot easier, but I got through it just fine with a fork. Normally, if I were making simple mashed potatoes, I would have added milk, but for croquettes, make sure to not put in any milk! Add some butter, and maybe an egg yolk if you like (make sure to save the egg white for later if you do this!) Season it to your liking with black pepper and nutmeg. Make sure the potatoes are tasty on their own accord before moving on to shaping the croquettes. If you have time, it’s nice to be able to chill the potatoes in the refrigerator for a couple of hours so that they’re easier to handle.
Now to set up the assembly line!~
As you can see, I got out some bowls and a plate with different things inside. The first big bowl has the mashed potatoes, the second one has some all-purpose flour, the next one a beaten egg (or just beaten egg whites if you decided to put the yolk into the potatoes), and then the last one has panko (or you can just use bread crumbs).
Make small patties out of the potatoes (I actually made little balls, but you can make any size or shape you want, really); then roll them in the flower, dip them in egg, and cover them in panko before setting them aside. I discovered, due to how messy your hands get, that it’s easier to roll all of your patties in the flour first and leave them there until you’re ready for the next step. Then you can dunk them into the egg one by one and put them in the panko. I would suggest not trying to roll them around after they’re wet from the egg, as it’s harder to keep the patties together. Just let the croquettes sit in the plate and gradually cover them with the panko and reinforce the shape of the patties.
By the way, at this point, if you want to make croquettes in bulk and save some for later, you can freeze them in this state. I haven't tried this myself, but I'm pretty sure you can just deep fry the frozen patties later without any problems.
Anyway, you’ll end up with this! Ready to fry~
The next part was the part I worried about. If you have a deep fryer, then you can simply use that (when I go back to my parent’s house, that’s what I would use). If you don’t, though, you can try making your own home-made deep fryer like I did. I used a very tiny pot and filled it a couple of inches up with oil. I heated up the oil to high, but had to turn down the heat down to medium afterwards – so if you want to just put it to medium from the start, it may take a little longer, but it might be easier to start with. You can put a piece of panko or a drop of water in the oil, and if it fizzles, it’s probably hot enough and you’re ready to start frying.
Due to my tiny pot, I put the croquettes in individually. You might not have to do this, but it was easier for me. Careful not to splash hot oil onto yourself – try using chopsticks to gently lower them into the oil. When I put my first one in, it got really dark, really fast...
The panko ended up slightly burnt – although otherwise it tasted fine – but after that was I turned the heat down a bit, to just above medium or so, and cooked them for longer. I was still surprised by how quickly these cooked! If you freeze them beforehand, I'm sure they'll take longer to cook, but in general just cook them until they're golden brown. Play around with the heat to figure out what works best for you – but be careful, hot oil can definitely be dangerous!
Put the croquettes on some paper towels, dab the oil off and let them cool for a little bit. You should be able to break them open with chopsticks without too much trouble, but I usually use silverware to eat them.
They'll be pretty crunchy on the outside, but not tough, and nice and soft and fluffy on the inside.
And there you have it, a super tasty side dish! I had my croquettes with a piece of salmon and hollandaise sauce (which I'll go over in a different post).
Soooo good! Hope you guys enjoy! ^o^