As a child in Spain, every restaurant offers you a starter of “fritos”. Fritos are a selection of fried items which generally include some form of croqueta.
I could write quite a few croquetas recipes but over the years, I have narrowed down my favourite to very few. I will focus on those when sharing recipes.
First thing I need to say, given that I am writing in English (or trying to anyway) and the blog is read by a lot of English speakers, that Spanish croquetas have bechamel as a base. Not potatos and I believe (and I am quite a rational person) that this makes them tastier than the ones you might think of when you read the word croquette.
Cooking time: 40 minutes + overnight chilling + 15 minutes of finishing
Quantity: This mix makes 24 pieces
1. Use a good fresh white fish. Something flaky like cod, haddock, even basa. Ideally buy sustainable please.
2. Have your hand blender in hand to “save the day” with the béchamel (if necessary) and to make a smooth sauce.
3. Grind the nutmeg freshly each time
4. Use other than olive oil to fry. Apparently the molecules change as the temperature goes up. Honestly, I am not sure whether this is another urban myth but more subtle oils let you taste the more delicate flavours inside the croqueta better.
5. For those, like me, who cannot have deep fried food, you might want to cook them in less amount of oil turning them around to cook evenly. Always lay the cooked croquetas in kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
6. I have worked out that the ideal size of a dish size to cool down this quantity of mix could be the equivalent of an A3 paper sheet of around 3 cm height. It will allow you to run parallel lines and make regular pieces. This will help you when frying.
1 pint of luke warm milk
300 gr of white fish
1 Medium size onion finely chopped
4 spoons of olive oil
5 spoonful of plain white flour
Pinch of salt
For the coating:
Good quality breadcrumbs (you will get an interesting result using the Japanese flaky ones)
2 small beaten eggs
A great part of the process is similar to the stuffed peppers but the consistency of the mix and the quantities are different.
Cut the fish in small pieces and place them in the milk for a while, whilst you do the chopping and get the ingredients ready.
Fry the onion in slow heat until takes honey colour. Add the flour and mix until there is an even oil coating on the mix. (You might need to add some more oil to achieve this, but it is an important step to avoid the flour to be undercook and bitter tasting)
Remove the fish from the milk and keep in the side. When the mix is coated, add the milk slowly making sure that you dissolve the flour fully. If you are not able to do so, or run out of patience, my mom’s trick is very useful: Blend the mix and add it back to the pan to continue cooking.
When the smooth mix has been cooking for about 15 minutes, add the fish and continue cooking.
Make sure that you regularly stir the mix with a wooden spoon as béchamel has a tendency to stick to the pan which you need to keep under control. This mix should be quite thick and you will know when it is cooked as you cut across with the wooden spoon and the mix leaves a trace/path behind.
Season and add the nutmeg to your taste. The quantity is very personal.
After another 20 minutes, remove from the heat and let it cool down over night. Do so in a shallow but wide dish.
The next day, cut the mix in regular cubes which you can shape with your hands as you first coat in flour, deep into the egg and then coat with the bread crumbs. Finally fry.
Photograph by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Recipe by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
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