Every Japanese loves a korokke - Japan's take on the French croquette. Every food store in Japan sells them and mums in every kitchen turn them out in their millions every week. A korokke usually features a filling of waxy mashed potato or a very thick white sauce mixed with minced meat and/or other vegetables to make the dish a "meal-in-one" . The filling is rolled into a patty shape (sorry that should be korokke shape) then dipped in plain flour, beaten egg and finally some panko breadcrumbs. The korokke is then deep fried in oil for a few minutes until a beautiful, golden brown. The end result is a lovely crunchy skin and a soft filling that most Japanese adore - the quintessential korokke - especially when it is swathed in Bulldog brown sauce!
But deep frying isn't to everyone's liking. Deep fried foods aren't the most healthy thing to eat and deep frying can be a little bit messy and environmentally a bit of a challenge - (how to dispose of the old oil? - personally, mine goes on the compost pile.) There is an alternative to deep frying to create your korokke which is to bake them in the oven. This does create a healthier, less messy result. The oven needs to be nice and hot - 220 C / 430 F (fan) - to get that crisp almost crunchy texture that defines a true korokke but I would advise you to keep peeking into your oven as the panko breadcrumbs do turn quite quickly and I wouldn't want yours to turn into burnt offerings!
You will probably have noticed that this recipe uses sweet potato instead of white potato. The point of using sweet potato is - surprise, surprise - you get a sweeter filling. You also get a slight nutritional benefit because sweet potato is very high in Vitamin A and also a little higher in Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C than the white potato - the calorific and fibre values are just about the same.
Nutritional comparisons apart, using sweet potato is much the same as using white potato as far as the recipe goes - you simmer the potato until it is just soft and mashable (I cut mine into small chunks to make this stage a little quicker.) For this recipe, I add some fried onion and minced beef. Seasoning wise, I use cumin, (admittedly not Japanese but it makes a great pairing with sweet potato IMO) a little parsley, salt and pepper. Basically, the filling is precooked so that at the final stage, you can concentrate on getting the coating right and not have to worry about whether the filling is ready. When you come to the final stage, the recipe diverges a little however. In order to get that nice crisp, tanned coating of breadcrumbs, you need to lightly brush vegetable oil over the breadcrumb coating. Do this gently and make sure you get a uniform thin, coating of oil and you'll get a result that looks every bit as good as the deep fried version and is a bit healthier as well!
If you'd like to try out this recipe in your kitchen, you can find the Youtube tutorial by clicking Oven baked Sweet Potato Korokke or by scrolling to the bottom of the page. The written recipe is just below.
Happy baking! Kurumi XXXX.
makes 2 servings / 4 sweet potato korokke
350g / 12oz sweet potato
1/2 medium onion, peeled
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
120g / 4 oz minced beef
1 tsp of cumin powder
salt & pepper
2 tsp of dried parsley
1 medium egg
30g / 1oz plain flour
40g / 1.75 oz panko breadcrumbs
2 - 3 tbsp vegetable oil
oven setting 220 C / 430 F (fan)
Bull-dog brown sauce or any brown sauce if you prefer
peel the sweet potato, then slice it and cut into chunks
place the sweet potato into a medium saucepan. cover with water. bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 mins or until softened (be careful not to overcook)
test the sweet potato if they are soft enough to mash, then drain.
peel & slice the onion, then dice
heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a frying pan. add the diced onion and stir until all the onion has got a good coating of oil. next, add the minced beef and stir together while frying
add the cumin powder, salt & pepper and stir fry for a few minutes until cooked the beef is cooked
put the drained sweet potato into a bowl and mash it well
add the cooked minced beef mixture and dried parsley and mix again
divide the mixture into 4 equal pieces and set aside
crack the egg into a bowl and beat it. have your plain flour and panko breadcrumbs ready in two separate bowls
now pour 1 tsp of vegetable oil over the palm of one hand and rub your hands together (this will stop the filling sticking to your hands)
scoop up 1/4 of potato beef mixture into your palm and form it into a rough round korokke - don't worry too much about the shape at this stage
dip the korokke into the bowl of plain flour and get it covered. now, form the korokke into a better, rounded shape
next, dip the korokke into the beaten egg, making sure it gets completely covered. then, coat the korokke in the panko breadcrumbs and get a good, uniform coating of crumb
your first korokke is ready. repeat to create 3 more korokke
heat your oven (fan) to 220’C /430 F. brush a small baking tray with some oil. place the korokke onto the tray, then lightly brush each korokke with vegetable oil, making sure that you get oil anournd the sides of the korokke as well, not just the top
now put the korokke in your oven and bake for 15-20 mins or until lightly brown
serve with some salad and drizzle brown sauce over the korokke.