What are they?
In France, they're croquettes; in Italy, crocchetti; in Spain, croquetas; in the Netherlands, kroketten and in Japan, korokke. They're all variations on the same thing: something delicious bound by bechamel sauce, mashed potato or starch, shaped into logs, crumbed and deep-fried until golden.
Where are they?
At Mejico restaurant in Pitt Street, executive chef Daniel Schai serves sweet potato croquetas with cumin, onion and manchego cheese, and at Barrafina Tapas Bar in Bligh Street, the jamon and manchego croquetas are the biggest seller on the menu.
Head chef Colin Barker of The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay rocks the boat with his untraditional ham hock croquette - untraditional because it is 100% slow-cooked pork, without any starch such as mashed potato or bechamel sauce. "We serve it crumbed, with a slow-cooked egg and a pea and basil puree," he says. "It's well on the way to being as popular as our signature fish pie."
Chef Elvis Abrahanowicz of Surry Hills' Porteno serves chorizo and leek croquetas as individual pintxos upstairs in Gardel's Bar. They're topped with soffrito mayonnaise and skewered with huge pickles. He's struck by the effort of having to make the bechamel, weigh and shape each croqueta, refrigerate them overnight, then reshape and fry them, for what is ultimately just a couple of bites. "For something so simple," he says, "there's actually quite a bit of work behind them."
At Chris Badenoch and Julia Jenkins' beer-centric, whole-beast haunt Josie Bones, the croquettes can be filled with anything from bone marrow and buttered leeks to a vegetarian option of smoked potato and aged American cheddar. Unsurprisingly, chef Alistair Hancock says both go extremely well with beer. For those cooking their own at home, his advice is not to have the oil too hot.
At the newly renovated Anada in Gertrude Street, owner Jesse Gerner currently serves wild mushroom and garlic shoot croquetas, while at St Ali North, he has been known to crumb and fry pig's face croquettes.
Up the road at Casa Ciuccio, Matt McConnell sends out air-dried longaniza chorizo and potato croquetas in the Portuguese style, bound with mashed potato rather than bechamel. “Every bar in Portugal and Spain does croquetas using something unique to each place,” he says.
Why do I care?
Because they're a great snack with a drink, tapas style, and they're very handy for using up leftovers.
Can I do this at home?
If you can deep-fry, you can do croquetas.
Gardel's Bar, Upstairs, 358 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, 8399 1440
Barrafina Tapas Bar, 2 Bligh Street, Sydney, 9231 2551
Mejico, 105 Pitt Street, Sydney, 9230 0119
The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay, end of Ferry Road, Glebe, 9518 9011
Anada, 197 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 9415 6101
Casa Ciuccio, 15 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 8488 8150
Josie Bones, 98 Smith Street, Collingwood, 9417 1878
St Ali North, 815 Nicholson Street, Carlton North, 9380 5499
Serve with a wedge of lemon, fresh coriander and a garlicky aioli.
200g fresh hot chorizo sausages
1 tbsp sherry or wine vinegar
2 tbsp grated parmesan or manchego
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp plain flour, sifted
Half tsp smoked paprika
Sea salt and black pepper
500g cold mashed potato, without butter or milk
100g plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
100g dried breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
1. Peel the chorizo sausages and break up the meat into a non-stick pan. Fry over low heat until browned. Splash in the vinegar and set aside to cool, then finely chop.
2. Beat the parmesan, egg, flour, paprika, sea salt and pepper into the mashed potato, then fold in the chorizo. Divide into 40-gram portions.
3. With floured hands, shape and roll each portion into a short, smooth sausage. Roll in flour, coat in beaten eggs and roll in breadcrumbs until coated. Refrigerate for an hour or more to firm up.
4. Heat the vegetable oil for deep-frying until a cube of bread dropped in oil turns golden in less than a minute, then fry the croquetas in batches, turning occasionally, for three minutes or until golden.
Tater tots. Variously described as potato gems, bite-sized hash browns and spud nuggets, tater tots are popping up in American diners and on bar menus. Spotted at: Misty's Diner in Prahran and Soda Rock Diner in South Yarra.