Shiitake Croquetas

Shiitake Croquetas

 

I LOVE CROQUETAS.  Croquetas are croquettes, usually made with leftover ham, but now a days, you can find them filled with anything your heart desires.  I have had cheese, spinach, pine nuts and raisins, beef, onion, fish…..the list goes on.

I have eaten croquetas since I was a kid, and I think my obsession started because my parents really didn’t buy or make them.  In Miami it is a Cuban thing, and the only time I would get to eat them is when I went to sleep at my Uncle Ernest and Aunt Myra’s house.  We used to have them for breakfast.  Sooooo good.

Now, call me stupid, but I had no idea that croquetas was a Spanish thing.  When I first landed in Spain, and saw that every single restaurant had a croqueta on the menu, I had an “A-ha!” moment.  Croquetas originally are made with left over chicken or pieces of Jamon mixed with a thick béchamel, then coated with breadcrumbs and fried.  The ham ones are still my favorites.  I’m not so sure about the chicken.  I decided to make them with some shiitake, because I had some dried in my fridge, kind of just staring at me every day.

Croquetas are fairly easy to make, but they are laborious and time-consuming.  This is probably something you might want to do on a rainy Sunday, (as I did) and make a lot.  They freeze really well, and as all things, the home-made versions are much better than store-bought, which usually has a very low ham to béchamel ratio, favoring the latter.  And once you get the knack, then the possibilities are endless!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

2 handfuls (sorry, I didn’t measure other than that) dried Shiitake mushrooms, soaked and strained, reserving 1 cup soaking liquid, then minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely minced

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp flour, more for dusting

2 cups milk

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 eggs, beaten

Breadcrumbs, for coating.  In this recipe, I used Panko (Japanese Style Breadcrumbs)

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, shiitake and onion.  Saute until the mushrooms and onions are softened, about 20 minutes.  Make sure all the water from the mushrooms has evaporated too.  Take off heat and set aside.

In a stockpot over low heat, melt the butter and add your flour and mix well, to make a roux.  Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.  Mix the milk with the cup of soaking liquid, and in a slow stream add to the roux, whisking constantly.  Stir until very thick, about 25 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and mix well.  Spread out on a plate, and let it cool to thicken even more.

Now, on your counter line up the plate with the filling, the bowl with the beaten egg, the bowl with the breadcrumbs, and a baking pan to place them on.  Dust your hands with flour, and grab a bit of the mushroom filling, roll into a ball or a log shape, dip them in the eggs, and then roll them in the breadcrumbs.  Continue to do that in order until all your filling is gone.  If needed wash your hands in between.  If you are not using immediately, you can freeze them in an airtight container for up to a month.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan with olive oil, when it is hot but not smoking, fry your croquetas about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Turn over and repeat.  Place on a plate lined with paper to soak the excess oil.  Serve hot.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

Tonkatsu with White Rice

I am a working chef, yes.  But by no means am I a Japanese chef.  The other night I had a class where I had to make Maki’s, Yakitori chicken wings, and Tonkatsu pork.  It was so much fun and incredibly tasty and simple.  My daughter is obsessed with everything Japanese, so I thought I would treat her to something that isn’t Ramen or Sushi, which she already gobbles like a true Japano-phile.

So, I made my way to our local Japanese market, and picked up the ingredients my friend Miki (who is Japanese) instructed that I needed to make the Tonkatsu.  And a few more things since I got excited!

In my class I made the sauce myself, so I will give you the recipe for it so you can make it at home if you don’t want to purchase it.  And I made it with chicken instead of pork, to be a little healthier……just a little.  It’s still fried you know.  By no stretch of the imagination is this a authentically perfect version of Tonkatsu, it is mine with a few tweaks of things that I love.  (You’ll notice leeks.)

So, here is what you are going to need:

Serves 4

4 thin cut chicken breast

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup flour

1 tbsp shichimi spice mix

2 eggs, beaten

1/8 cup milk

1/4 leeks, julienned

1/4 cup chinese cabbage, sliced

For the vinaigrette:

1/8 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 tsp shichimi

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup water

For the Tonkatsu sauce:

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup sake

1/8 cup mirin

2 tbsp sugar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp ginger, grated

For the white rice:

3/4 cup white jasmine rice

1.5 cups water

Julienne your leeks, and place in a bowl of water to let the dirt out.

Then you will need to slice the cabbage.  And let the dirt out too.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the panko, flour and shichimi.

Then beat the eggs with the milk in another bowl with a dash of shichimi.

Dredge your chicken cutlets in the egg mix, and then the panko mix.  Set on a baking sheet.

Now, combine your ingredients for the vinaigrette, and mix with the cabbage, set

aside.

In a large skillet or frying pan, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil.  When hot, but not smoking, add the chicken cutlets and fry until golden brown.

Place on a tray with paper towels to soak up the oil.  In the meantime, on a plate, place your cabbage salad on one side, your julienned leeks in the middle, and a dollop of the of the tonkatsu sauce.  Place your chicken on top of the leeks.  Enjoy!

To make the tonkatsu sauce:

Mix all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and heat until ingredients have melded and are slightly thickened.

For the rice:

In a saucepan, place your rice and water, cover and cook over medium low heat until the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla