Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jan 17th - Croquetas de Pescado (Spanish Fish Croquettes)

Croquetas de Pescado

This is hands down my favorite Spanish tapa. My favourite dishes include Arroz Negro, Espinaca al Curi and Gazpacho. But what I always hope to see come to Vancouver is a decent croqueta without Jamon. The Spanish croqueta or croquette is a bechamel or white sauce base one and not a potato base like other mediterranean or french types. Don't fear the bechamel. In this case and not many for a bechamel, it doesn't matter as much if it goes too far and gets too thick because you need it thick enough to make balls rather rugby ball shapes.

The classic variety are Croquetas de Jamon or Ham or Bacalao. You'll also see Pollo or Chicken often enough. Salt cod can be expensive and takes 24 hours to desalinate. So often restaurants won't offer this variety or they'll 'cheat' you on the Salt Cod. (Reef doesn't :-D) Therefore, I obviously love to make salt cod dishes at home where I can be as generous as I please. My ackee with salt cod is replete with lovely salty nuggets of fish.

Today, I am making a combo of smoked Peppered Salmon and Bacalao Croquetas because D bought some smoked ready to eat salmon for me last week but I never go to it. I'm always looking for portable protein that I can eat so he buys it whenever he's in Choices Market. It's yum. I was already desalinating a large piece of Bacalao for an all Salt Cod croquette but when D reminded me we needed to finish the salmon, I changed course. Actually, we had planned on making omlettes with it but we bought those scones yesterday at the Seaside Bakery in Blaine. The piece I cut had two bits because I'm trying a bowl desalination rather than the big clunky baking dish where I always spill in and out of the fridge. So the wee tail piece, I used today. The other, I'll probably use this week for a Brandade or Ackee dish.

Croquetas de Peppered Salmon y Bacalao

Serves 4-6 people..
100 g butter
1/2 c finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
3/4 c flour
2 1/2 c milk
1/2 t paprika
1/4 t fresh grated nutmeg
1 t dry parsley
olive oil
6 oz fish (300g)
salt and pepper to taste
Bread crumbs
Flour to coat
1 beaten egg

If you're using salt cod, simmer water for 5 minutes. Drain. Cool. Flake. The smoked fish, just chop or flake. Set aside.

Mince the onion and garlic. Sautee until soft in some oil. Add the butter in chunks. When melted. Sprinkle in the flour while mixing. It will turn into a paste fast. It's okay. Cook for a few minutes. Brown if you have time.

Pour the milk in 1/2 cup at a time. Whisk until smooth. Turn up the heat a bit if your milk is cold. Add the spices. Whisk until it thickens. You're looking for brownie batter consistency.... i.e. thicker than pancake batter but thinner than bread dough.

Add the fish. Mix. I poured it all into a bowl at this stage to quicken the cooling. Set aside. You can cover if you want. I'm not going to let it sit that long.

With two spoons, form egg shapes or rugby ball shapes. drop in flour to LIGHTLY coat. Drop in beaten egg and dredge in bread crumbs. Set aside. When you're down cool the lot in the fridge until you're ready to fry. I made my own breadcrumbs by toasting 3 slices of bread and quickly blitzing in a food processor. 3 slices was perfect.

This made about 16 tT sized croquetas. NEXT time I will use less milk - bechamel so the fish to filling ratio is higher and makes less croquettes. Oh well, cook and learn.

Fry in some shallow oil on medium high. Don't crowd the pan if you've left them in the fridge. The cold with lower the temperature of the oil. I did 4 at a time.

We had a simple mixed green salad on the side with Balsamic, Tarragon mustard and White wine vinagre dressing. For dipping we had some (totally not authentic, spanish-wise) tapenade, salsa and guacamole.

YUMMO! Four a piece is fine. Believe me.

1 Leave a / Read COMMENTs:

mindy said...

delighted to find your post. I also am a beschamel based-croquettes fan. Love Vancouver and envy you're living there. here's a recipe i just created based on a dish from a south amer friend:
Creamy Crunchy Lemony Tuna Croquettes// Croquetas de Atun

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole milk , heated to hot
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Juice of 1 lemon, 3-4 Tablespoons
12 ounces canned tuna- Pastene Fancy Light Tuna in olive oil
Kosher salt
fresh coarsely ground black pepper
2 large eggs, whisked well
1 cup panko breadcrumbs*
Vegetable oil for frying

1.Heat the oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Add the flour and cook 3-4 minutes while whisking frequently . This cooks out the raw flour taste. Add the hot milk while whisking and mixture should immediately leave sides of pan and clump in the middle. The mixture should be smooth.Switch to a wooden spoon and add the lemon juice and nutmeg, salt and pepper.

With a can opener, open the top of the tuna all the way, but leave the top in place. Over a bowl, squeeze down hard on the can’s contents so that all juices and oil leave the can. (Now give this bowl to your kitty!) Over the saucepan of beschamel, add the tuna while shredding with your fingers. Blend thoroughly and adjust seasoning as needed. The goal is a well blended,smooth creamy mixture, not a chunky one. Spread mixture into an oiled 8” square pan , cover and refrigerate a few hours or overnight to set up.
Cut a grid of 5 x 5 squares. Remove each square and roll in the palms of your hands briefly til you have a smooth 2 1/2” long oval and place them on an oiled sheet pan. Place the panko in a container with a tight fitting lid. With one hand, place 2 or 3 croquetas at a time into the bowl of well beaten egg. With that same hand, roll them around in the egg and then place them in the panko. With the other hand, snap on the container lid and gently shake the container to coat the croquetas with panko. With that same other hand, remove them and place them back on the same sheet pan. When all are done, refrigerate 1 hour or longer to firm up the coating.

Heat 3-4” depth of oil to 370 degrees F. Depending on the size of your pan, fry about 4-5 croquetas at a time (do not crowd them) for 4-6 minutes til medium brown. To test, insert a skewer into the middle of a croqueta . If the skewer tip is hot, the middle of the croqueta is as well. Drain on thick newspapers
topped by a triple thickness of paper towels. Serve with lemon wedges. Serves 2-4 for dinner.

* It is surprising how much better these are with panko over flour or bread crumbs. You can find it in an Asian grocery nand some large supermarkets.

Option: for hors d’oeuvre, form the mixture into 1- 1 1/2 ” balls.

i'm in boston MA, usa