Alan Davidson explains in his delightfully erudite tome The Oxford Companion To Food (a book to feast upon), “croquette” is a
French culinary term which has been adopted into English. He goes on to cite Phillips’ (whom we don’t know) 1706 definition: “In Cookery, Croquets are a certain Compound made of delicious Stuff’d Meat, some of the bigness of an Egg, and others of a Walnut.” Davidson continues: “…a croquette is always quite small, but highly variable in shape (a ball, a cylinder, an egg shape, a rectangle, etc.); the basic ingredient is either vegetable or meat or fish (although occasionally something sweet); cooking is achieved by coating the croquette with breadcrumbs and deep-frying it, so that the exterior becomes golden and ‘crunchy’ (croquant).” This salmon croquettes recipe, adapted from my cookbook Sausage: Making and Cooking with Homemade Sausage (Ten Speed, 2010), calls for forming the fish mixture into patties and sauteing them, which achieves the same crisp exterior with less fat than deep frying. Also, since I originally developed the recipe, I’ve come to realize there’s no need to precook the salmon. It’s better just chopped and cooked straightaway, which makes for a super simple, elegant entree.
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound skinless salmon fillet
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped scallion, green part only
Small pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups homemade bread crumbs or panko
1 medium fennel bulb, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced crosswise
1 medium red bell pepper, halved lengthwise, seeded, and very thinly sliced
6 cups arugula leaves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter, for frying
1. Remove any pin bones and chop the salmon somewhat finely with a chef’s knife. Transfer to a bowl and add the eggs, parsley, tarragon, scallion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cayenne, and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs or panko. Mix with your hands, then form into 2 1/2 to 3-inch patties.
2. Coat the croquettes with bread crumbs or panko on both sides and set them aside in the refrigerator to firm while making the slaw.
3. Combine the fennel, bell pepper, and arugula in a bowl. Add the lemon juice,olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and very gently toss to mix. Set aside.
4. To cook the croquettes, melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add as many croquettes as will fit without crowding and saute, turning once, until golden on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes total. Continue with another round if necessary until all the croquettes are cooked.
5. Arrange croquettes on individual plates or a platter. Set the slaw alongside and serve.