Recipe: Kabocha no korokke (pumpkin croquette)
As the mercury drops, stay warm with these tasty pumpkin croquettes.
Almost every Japanese department store has a food hall located below ground. These depachika offer a huge range of food from across Japan as well as overseas. Whether you’re looking for Japanese sweets, French cheese or Chinese dumplings, the depachika has it all. Some of the most popular food halls in Tokyo are below Shinjuku’s Takashimaya and Isetan department store. I’m also a frequent visitor to Tokyu Foodshow beneath Shibuya station.
Croquettes – made with everything from potato to crab – are a depachika favorite. They’re usually presented on trays and you make your selection with a pair of tongs, placing them in a plastic container. This recipe uses kabocha (pumpkin), but with a bit of experimentation, you’ll find you’ll be able to use it for many of the other flavors you come across in your department store wanderings.
Note that the pumpkin paste should be cooled before you shape the croquettes – they handle more easily after brief refrigeration.
Ingredients (serves 3 – 4)
- 500 – 600 g pumpkin (400 g after removing seeds and skin)
- 50 g onion
- 30 – 50 ml milk
- 1 tablespoon of fresh cream
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- A pinch of black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of corn (canned corn is fine)
- 1 egg
- 3 – 4 tablespoons of flour
- 2 cups of bread crumbs
- Vegetable oil for frying
Remove the pumpkin seeds and cut it into 3 – 4 cm squares before peeling away the skin. Place the pumpkin in a pre-warmed steamer and warm it on a medium heat. Once the water is warm, place the pealed pumpkin into the basket and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, so that they become soft. Use a skewer to check if the are cooked all the way through.
Place the pumpkin in a heatproof bowl and mash thoroughly with a fork. Add the milk and fresh cream then mix carefully. Place a frying pan containing a teaspoon of vegetable oil on a medium heat. Chop the onion into 5 mm squares and saute them for 2 – 3 minutes. Once transparent, add to the bowl containing the pumpkin.
Now warm the bowl in a microwave for 3 – 4 minutes to remove moisture. While the pumpkin is still warm, add 1 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of black pepper. Mix well. Add 2 tablespoons of corn and mix roughly. Now allow the pumpkin to cool.
Prepare 3 trays, each containing:
- beaten egg
- bread crumbs
Moisten your hand with a little vegetable oil. Take roughly 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin filling and shape it into a ball. Repeat until you’ve used all the filling.
Coat each of them with flour, beaten egg and bread crumbs (in that order).
Pour the vegetable oil into a deep frying pan (3 – 4 cm deep) and warm to 170 degrees. Carefully place the croquettes into the oil, turning them over occasionally.
When the croquettes turn light brown, use a metal spoon to retrieve them and drain on a tray.
Serve them on a plate with tonkatsu sauce.