We’ve been spending countless nights binge watching one of our favorite shows on Netflix. Samurai Gourmet (if you haven’t indulged in this delightful show, do it now—I promise not to give away any spoilers ahead) is the story of recent retiree, Takeshi Kasumi, who finds himself reigniting his passion for food while tapping into his inner “Ronin” as he struggles to adapt to his newfound freedom. Brushing all cultural etiquette and inhibitions aside, he takes the viewer on a journey encompassing many Japanese culinary delights. It’s the perfect story for a foodie-obsessed household such as ours, and it’s no surprise we’d feel inspired to recreate some of the iconic Japanese dishes that had us drooling episode after episode.
Episode 9, titled “Croquettes of the heart”, tells the tale of young Takeshi as he takes a walk down memory lane. Recalling his first taste of the beloved deep-fried delicacy, Korroke. Conflict arises between the nostalgic longing Takeshi feels for the carefree days of his youth and his more temperate leanings as he tries to decide how many croquettes to order for himself at a strip-mall takeaway shop. It’s a great episode full of reminiscence on the joy of youth, the compromises we all make to get through the journey of life in one piece, and the opportunities for self-rediscovery that present themselves along the way. We came for the croquettes, but we stayed for the feels.
After the episode we began researching the creative varieties of Korroke offerings from the street vendors in Japan,. We decided that we wanted to concoct our own recipe with a classic american twist. Could we make food-stall-style croquettes, with soft and pillow-y centers and crisp golden crusts using only what we only had in our pantry? It was an exciting challenge worth taking on, and you won’t believe how heavenly these croquettes are.
The best Japanese Korroke are made from potatoes with high starch and low moisture for a fluffy yet sturdy eating experience. Although any potato CAN do, we opted for one of the greatest modern food inventions: instant Idaho mashed potatoes. Dry potato flakes are perfect for controlling the amount of liquid that you’ll need to keep your croquettes from exploding in the fryer but still yield a luxurious texture. It’s quick, easy, and won’t break the bank. If you don’t have panko breading any white bread crumb will substitute just fine. For my gluten-free cooks out there, one of our favorite breadings to use is combination of Trader Joe’s Rice Bread Crumbs and Kikkoman Gluten-Free Panko. Get creative and mix in any variety of cooked meats, cheeses, and vegetables for added texture and flavor. Real Tonkatsu sauce is a rare find at the neighborhood grocery store, so we opted to make our own with just a few simple ingredients. Try these awesome little croquettes with our favorite Japanese fried chicken recipe.