Saltfish and Parsnip Croquettes

When I was wee, you saw croquettes on the menu quite often, usually involved leftover potato and tinned fish in luridly orange breadcrumbs and often oddly accompanied by chips for triple carbing. This rather British concoction has fallen out of favour, replaced by the rich bechamel filled croqueta of tapas bars as we become more cosmopolitan. I rather miss the old version and when I was picking up some saltfish in the market the other week, my mind went toward reinventing, and hopefully reviving them.

I love the firm texture of saltfish or salt cod and since discovering that it freezes well after soaking, often have some to hand since it is eternally versatile. I also often have leftover mash as I find it a kitchen staple. I just needed something else to lift the croquettes from their bland reputation and when rummaging in the fridge on a damp Bank Holiday and sincerely hoping I wouldn’t have to go outside, I stumbled across a parsnip and thought its spicy sweet flavour would go brilliantly with the fish. I suddenly had the perfect leftovers brunch!

Saltfish and Parsnip Croquettes (best as leftovers, slower to make from scratch)

  • 150g saltfish, soaked according to instructions. (I do a big batch and then freeze it for quick dishes)
  • 250g mashed potato (I use a ricer for super smooth mash)
  • 100g grated raw parsnip
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100g panko breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying

These are super simple and should take about 30 minutes to make including chilling. Peel and grate a large parsnip. Mix it into the mashed potato with your hands until well combined and then flake in the soaked saltfish, checking for any bones as you go. Season to taste (most of the salt will have soaked off the fish, but be cautious in case it hasn’t) and mix up well with your hands. Then take about a handful and roll into a ball, then out into a sausage shape. This amount should make six. Place on a slightly oiled plate and chill for minimum 20 minutes or until needed.

When you are ready for the croquettes, either heat a frying pan with olive oil for shallow frying. Crack the egg into a bowl and beat. Tip the panko breadcrumbs onto a plate. Then roll the croquette in egg and dip in the breadcrumbs and then into the hot pan. The panko crumbs which are made without a crust will become golden and crispy while the inside is hot and fluffy. Turn regularly giving each side about a minute. Drain onto kitchen paper. You could use a deep fat fryer if you prefer as this will do all sides at once. Serve with salad as a starter or with a poached egg on top as a main course. Chilli sauce is essential either way.

I like all the constituent parts of these so I expected to enjoy them. I was pleasantly surprised to adore them.  The breadcrumb coating was light and crispy and not at all greasy, giving way to a smooth filling crammed with firm flaky fish and peppered with still slightly crunchy parnsip that really came into its own, leaving behind its bland reputation completely. This was the best brunch I’ve had in a long time and I look forward to making them again and trying oven baking them as fishcakes. If you’ve ever wondered what to do with either saltfish or a parsnip, I can’t recommend these enough. If the croquettes of my childhood had been this flavoursome, they would never have fallen out of fashion!

*This post originally appeared over at Brixton Blog where those lovely Brixtonians let me have free run of their kitchen.

2 replies
  1. Elly
    Elly says:

    Are you trying to kill me?! Having rushed from the house without time for breakfast, I’m now seriously considering fabricating a family emergency so I can go home and make these.

    I agree so much that they are a neglected form and while I have a shameless soft spot for the frozen supermarket version, they can be so much more – as you have amply demonstrated.

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