Springtime, First Love, and Croquettes

Croquettes - Honey and Clover 01 - 04The series, Honey and Clover, begins in the springtime, the season of new beginnings and, of course, new love…. I can never forget how Takemoto falls in love at first sight with Hagu, the childlike art prodigy, and how he is so enraptured by her, that he cannot take his eyes off of her as they eat croquettes together.

The moment is sweet and cute, with Hagu oblivious to Takemoto’s feelings as she adorably enjoys her croquette. And, while the scene centers around them, they are not completely alone… Takemoto’s friend, Mayama is also present, and notes it is the first time he has ever witnessed the exact moment when someone falls in love. Spring is truly in the air!

And so, to celebrate this moment of first love, I present to you: Croquettes!

About the recipe:

Croquettes - Honey and Clover 01 - 01Croquettes (pronounced “korokke” in Japan) are basically mashed potato that is breaded and deep fried. Meat, vegetables, and even seafood can be mixed into the potato filling to create a myriad of variations. This dish originates from the Portugese dish of the same name, and was introduced to Japan in the 1900’s.

They make a great side dish or appetizer, but don’t work so well as a main because they are mostly carbohydrates and can be quite heavy. In Japan, croquettes are eaten on their own, as well as used to top other foods, such as soba noodles. There is even something called korokke-pan, which is a type of sandwich made with a croquette.

The shape of the croquette really depends on your personal preferences, as well as how you will be serving them. If serving as an appetizer for a large crowd, small balls might be preferable. If serving as a side, slightly larger logs might work well. And, if using the croquette in korokke-pan or as a topping for your noodles, a larger round or oval patty would work best.

Croquettes can take some time to make, since there are many stages to its cooking. You must cook the potatoes, as well as any fillings you desire, mix them all together, shape the potato mixture, bread them, and then deep fry. That said, the results are definitely worth it! I love how soft and piping hot they are on the inside, while being crispy and crunchy on the outside. Paired with the tangy flavour of tonkatsu sauce, and croquettes make a great addition to any meal.

To save some time in the kitchen, I have found croquettes to be a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes as well!

About the ingredients:

Croquettes - Honey and Clover 01 - 02Croquettes can be eaten plain, or with all sorts of additional fillings such as ground beef, minced onions, curry, carrots, peas, or corn. All of the fillings listed are optional, and can be adjusted to suit your individual tastes.

If adding ground beef, make sure it’s lean. Since you’re already deep frying the croquettes in oil, you don’t want the filling to be greasy. When cooking the ground beef, I like to break it into very small pieces since croquettes aren’t usually very huge, and it’s best if the beef is evenly distributed throughout the filling.

If adding corn and/or peas, I usually just use the frozen kind. Vegetables give a nice bit of colour to the croquette filling, and add a nice amount of chew to the otherwise soft and smooth mashed potato.

For the breading, use panko, which is Japanese breadcrumbs. Unlike regular breadcrumbs, which are fine in texture and include the crusts of the bread, panko is shredded into larger flakes and does not include bread crusts. This larger crumb allows for a crispier coating when breading, as well as a lighter and airier texture because it doesn’t absorb as much oil when fried. Panko can be found in most grocery stores these days, but if you don’t have any in your pantry, you can always use regular homemade or store-bought breadcrumbs, though the texture will not be as nice.

The recipe:

Croquettes

Makes 6-8 servings (about 20 small or 10 large croquettes)

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Egg

Fillings:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 cup carrots (finely chopped), peas, or corn (or a combination); increase to 2 cups of vegetables if making vegetarian croquettes
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped

Breading:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 – 2 cups panko
  • Oil for frying

Directions:

1. Boil potatoes in water until cooked through, about 30 minutes.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a pan on medium heat with a small amount of oil. Cook the onions until translucent and softened, 7-10 minutes. Add in the ground beef, and cook until no red meat is visible, using a spatula or spoon to break it into small pieces, about 10 minutes.

Add in carrots, and continue cooking until soft, about 10 minutes. Finally, mix in the frozen peas and corn, and cook until they are warmed through.

3. When the potatoes are cooked, drain the water and place the hot, cooked potatoes into a large bowl. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher, and mix in salt, pepper, and butter. Add in the meat, vegetables, and onion to the mixture, stirring to distribute evenly, leaving any liquid produced from cooking behind in the pan. Lastly, mix in the egg.

4. While the potato filling is still warm, shape into balls (about 2-3 tbsp each), logs (about 1/4 cup each), or patties (up to 1 cup each). Set aside.

5. Heat a pan with vegetable oil, or prepare your deep frier.

Dredge each ball, log, or patty in flour, followed by the beaten egg, and finally the panko. Use your fingers to gently press the panko into the egg coating to help the breadcrumbs adhere. Place on plates and set aside.

6. When your oil is hot and shimmering, fry until the croquettes are golden brown. Remove from the oil, and place on paper towel-lined plates, in order for the oil to drain.

Serve hot, either plain or with tonkatsu sauce.

Source: Blue Variance

Croquettes - Honey and Clover 01 - 03

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