Sometimes It's Just What You Need

Some foods you just crave. There is no preamble, no build-up, you just want to eat a specific something, and you want it now. It happens to me quite a lot, and I rarely see any reason to oppose a craving. The other day, the idea of croquettes just came to mind and stuck there until I went out to buy the ingredients. The croquettes were made and nearly eaten before it even occurred to me that I should write about this simple recipe. Hence the fuzzy picture.

The word may be of French origin, but I am thinking Japanese croquettes, where these deep-fried patties are served as a main dish along with shredded cabbage and a zingy sauce that tastes very much like ketchup. Japanese croquettes are always potato-based, but any vegetable can be added as long as crushed spuds make up at least half the mix. Cooked ground pork, beef or fish is often added to the mix, however, vegetarian versions are just as satisfying. My craving for sweet potatoes and squash was completely unseasonal, but any vegetable can be added to the mix. Bulky vegetables such as beetroot, squash and sweet potato should be mashed, but most others can simply be chopped into the mix.

It's difficult to give exact measures for this recipe, as it really all depends on what you plan n putting inside the croquettes. Expect to use about 125g/4.5oz of potatoes (three large new potatoes or one medium baking potato) per person for a light main, or double that if you want something more substantial. Cook and mash the potatoes (and any any other starchy vegetable) while still hot. Season with salt and pepper. Chopped green onions, sweet peppers, or leafy greens can be added at this point. You can even throw in some left-overs into the mix. Combine thoroughly, and chill until the mix has firmed up.

Divide the mix into balls. Roll in some flour, then into a beaten egg, and finish with some bread crumbs. I prefer to use fresh breadcrumbs, which can now be found in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets, or even at bakeries, but any breadcrumb will do. Shape the balls into patties. Although croquettes are usually deep-fried, they can be shallow-fried in about 1cm/½inch of oil. Flip the croquette over when the edges appear to have browned.

Serve the croquettes with a lovely salad, and you can forgo the ketchup-like sauce. Or be liberal with ketchup... and mayo! These croquettes are also great cold, so they're perfect for picnics and packed lunches.

Bon app'!


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