A few months ago, a good friend of ours made salmon croquettes at a dinner party. They were a big hit, and inspired us to make our own croquettes. Instead of salmon, we used shrimp. We based our version on Alton Brown’s tuna croquettes, but adapted the herbs and seasoning to go with shrimp.
We used cornmeal in our recipe because, for some reason, I really craved the fragrance of cornmeal. I think it’s because my dad had served me porridge with a bit of cornmeal and it just got me all fired up about cornmeal. In our recipe, cornmeal plays the same binding and breading roles as bread crumbs. If you aren’t using cornmeal, just use more bread crumbs instead.
Also, whenever I say ‘bread crumbs’, I mean ‘panko’. They’re the only bread crumbs we stock, but I’m sure regular bread crumbs would work.
Combine finely chopped garlic, chopped parsley, mustard, zest and juice of lemon, salt, pepper, chopped shrimp, beaten egg, cornmeal and bread crumbs in a mixing bowl. Amounts are to taste and effect: for half a pound of shrimp, we use half a head of garlic (I love garlic; I’m sure normal people would use one or two cloves) and two stalks of parsley, including the whole stem. We recommend using not more than two teaspoons of mustard, especially if you’re using something strong like dijon. The first time we made these, we found the mustard overpowered the delicate shrimp flavour, which was unfortunate. Not much salt is needed, because shrimp are naturally salty. We use one egg, although if you find that the mixture isn’t holding together, maybe more would help. Add enough cornmeal and bread crumbs to make the consistency sticky and not too wet.
Shape the mixture into rounds and set aside for 15 minutes. According to Alton Brown, this resting period is very important for flavour and binding.
Coat the rounds with bread crumbs and cornmeal. We don’t have a clever method for doing this: we make a cornmeal/bread crumb mixture in a bowl, then carefully lift and deposit the rounds into the bowl, and sprinkle the bread crumbs onto the top and sides.
Pan-fry in a skillet with a bit of oil on medium-high, until golden brown on one side, then flip and fry the other side until golden brown. The higher the heat, the bigger the difference between how cooked the outside is versus the inside. You don’t want to overcook the shrimp (I think overcooked shrimp is evil), but you want the outside to brown nicely (as Jamie Oliver would say, ‘get a nice bit of colour’), so manage the heat to give you that balance (that’s why I always let Hide do the frying, because the man has an excellent instinct).
We’ve also made similar croquettes using tilapia: in that case, we use scallion and/or cilantro instead of parsley, and we’re a lot more generous with the mustard (maybe 1-2 tbsp?).