Although croquettes started life in France, these deep fried balls of goodness have managed to spread themselves around the world: from Bangladesh to Portugal to Mexico. You could even make the argument that American crab cakes are a distant relative of the croquette.
In Japan, croquettes(or korokke as they're known there) are a staple bento box food along with tonkatsu and chicken teriyaki. Korokke comes in just about any flavor you can imagine, but preparations usually fall into two camps. One uses mashed potatoes as the base, the other uses a creamy bechamel sauce as the base.
In order to get the bechamel firm enough to handle, it's usually made with a lot of flour. The idea being that it is firm when chilled and softens when fried. While I love kani kurimu korokke, I envisioned something a little more luscious this time. A korokke that bursts into a creamy pool of flavor in your mouth as you bite through the crisp panko crust. To accomplish this, I made the bechamel on the soft side then added in creamed corn and crab.
Since the resulting filling is way too soft to shape and bread, I scooped it into ice cube trays and froze it first. This not only firms up the filling, it also ensures your korokke are uniform in shape and size. When you fry them, the frozen center warms up and becomes molten, while the breading has enough time to harden into a crispy crust.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and stir vigorously until the mixture is bubbling. Remove the pan from the heat, then slowly whisk in the half and half until it is fully incorporated and there are no lumps. Whisk in the salt, sugar and bourbon, then return the pan to a medium-low heat stove and use a silicone spatula to continuously scrape the bottom of the pan to keep the sauce from burning.
- When the sauce is thick and bubbly, remove it from the heat and stir in the crab, creamed corn and white pepper. Salt to taste. Cool to room temperature then put the mixture into two greased ice cube trays. Put the ice cube trays in the freezer until the mixture is frozen.
- Beat 2 eggs in a bowl. Put the panko in another bowl. Put 1/2 cup of flour into a ziplock bag and add some of the frozen cubes of filling. Seal the bag and shake to evenly coat with flour. Tap off any excess flour from each cube and roll it in the egg, making sure to completely coat the cube in egg. Transfer to the panko and roll it around, sprinkling panko on top and pressing down to ensure a thick coat of bread crumbs.
- In a medium heavy bottomed pot such as a dutch oven, add about 2 inches of oil. Heat until it reaches 340 degrees F, then add some breaded croquettes. Don't over crowd the pot, otherwise the oil temperature will start to fall. Gently turn the croquettes over once and fry until the cubes start puffing up. If you let them fry too long, they will burst, if you don't fry them long enough the inside will be cold, so you'll have to keep a close watch on them.
- Transfer to a paper towel lined rack as they finish frying. Serve with chuno sauce (Japanese Worcestershire sauce).