Why do I call these croquettes ‘canny’? According to the Oxford English Dictionary ‘canny’ is an adjective which means ‘having or showing shrewdness and good judgement.’ I’m not suggesting that the crab croquettes themselves are actively showing good judgement, but that they are basking in the reflected glory of their creators who most definitely are.
Canny crab croquettes can be frozen, they can be cooked from frozen, they can be made in some quantity.
And so they are an ever-present, ever-ready, always reliable, and consistently impressive and unusual starter.
And they are also easy to produce: effectively this is just a stiff roux mixed with crab, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried… then served with either a Japanese ponzu sauce (which you can buy or make), or with pomegranate molasses.
NB: You need to allow a couple of hours cooling time for this recipe.
How to make your own ponzu sauce
If you want to make the ponzu sauce yourself, you simply mix 240 ml/1 cup thick (Lee Kum Kee) soy sauce with 5 tbsps of lemon/lime juice (or the juice of one lime and one lemon) and 2 tbsps golden caster sugar and 1 tbsp sherry vinegar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Keeps for a month or so in the fridge.
What else can you do with the ponzu sauce if you have any left over?
The quantity above may be more than you need for your crab croquettes. This is what you can do with any you have left:
- Use to glaze steak
- Add some ginger and throw onto stir fries
- Add sesame oil to make it into an Asian salad dressing
Recipe for canny crab croquettes
Serves – 6
- 50g (one-fifth of a pack) butter
- 1 onion
- 5 tbsps (for the roux, to make the crab mix) and 4 tbsps (for rolling/dredging) plain flour
- 420 ml/1¾ cups full-fat milk
- 80 ml/⅓ cup crème fraîche
- 200g/7 oz 50/50 white and brown crab meat (the brown gives a bit more crab flavour)
- Salt and pepper
- Sprinkling of paprika
- 2 eggs
- 250g/8 oz/5 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- Rapeseed or vegetable oil for deep frying, and for oiling your hands
- Rocket to garnish
- Begin to melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan while you peel and finely chop the onion. Fry the onion until it begins to melt.
- Meanwhile beat the eggs and put the breadcrumbs into a shallow soup bowl. Also put the flour for dredging in another shallow soup bowl. Put all three beside your hob, flour first, then the egg, then breadcrumbs and then a floured board which you can put back in the fridge.
- Whisk in the flour to the butter and onion (I use a cappuccino whisk) and cook until it starts to turn golden. Slowly add the milk, continuing to whisk, as it thickens up, and then add the crème fraîche. Bring to a simmer. Add the crab and the salt, pepper and paprika.
- When the mixture is as thick as it will go, take off the heat and transfer to a container, and put in the fridge to cool, at least an hour.
- Oil your hands, and shape eighteen fat croquette shapes, rolling each first in the flour, then dipping in the egg, then rolling in the breadcrumbs, then putting carefully on the board. Once you’ve made all 18, put the board in the fridge to cool again for about twenty minutes.
- At this stage you can either cook them, or you can freeze on the board, and then once frozen you can put them into a freezer bag or a plastic box for further freezing.
- To cook, get a deep frying pan, or a flat bottomed wok and fill with vegetable or rapeseed oil to about 1.5”/8 cms deep. Get it smoking hot, and fry, turning once, until golden.
- Drain on kitchen paper, and serve on a bed of rocket, together with the sauce (which I serve for each diner in an espresso cup).