Kabocha korokke is a delicious deep fried dish made from soft, sweet and tasty Japanese winter squash covered in crispy panko breadcrumbs then drizzled with a tangy sauce. This dish is a perfect side, bento option or even served as a main dish with cabbage and rice!
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What is Korokke?
Korokke (コロッケ) is the Japanese loan word taken from either French, 'croquette' or Dutch "kroket". Either way, Japanese korokke is considered a type of "yoshoku", a Japanese dish with European influence.
It is said that France introduced Japan to croquettes in the late 1800's, It was made using mashed potatoes that had been shaped, rolled in egg and panko breadcrumbs and then deep fried.
Korokke is extremely popular in Japan now and is often put in bento boxes. You can find ready-made Korokke in any supermarket or convenience store in Japan!
Features of Japanese Korokke
One thing that sets Japanese korokke apart from regular croquette, is the use of panko breadcrumbs.
Panko breadcrumbs are light and dry, they crisp up more than your regular breadcrumb. They don't absorb too much oil either, resulting in a perfectly crispy croquette that isn't too oily.
I personally use Hamaotome Soft Panko, it never fails. When I was in England and couldn't buy my usual brand, I found that JFC Panko breadcrumbs were a great alternative and easy to find worldwide. (UK readers can buy it in Sainsbury's!)
Today I'm going to teach you how to make korokke with Japanese winter squash called "kabocha" (かぼちゃ). The skin is dark green while the flesh is bright orange.
In Japan, we use kabocha for many different kinds of recipes, it's a common ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes. It makes delicious tempura and pumpkin loaf cake!
Kabocha is usually grown during the summer and then harvested in autumn.
Using kabocha in croquette gives it a sweeter and more buttery taste, it's seriously delicious!
Tips for making the most delicious kabocha korokke
Use these tips to ensure perfect kabocha korokke every time!
Peel the kabocha
Kabocha skin is quite thick and hard to peel, however, once it's cooked, it's edible and it's known for being very nutritious. Many people leave it on, however I personally like my kabocha croquette to be very smooth.
I peel it with a potato peeler before cooking but this is optional.
Soften the kabocha
The next step is to cook and mash the kabocha. You can cook kabocha in many different ways; steaming, boiling, baking, all of these methods all work.
For speed, I personally like to microwave the kabocha for this recipe.
Cut it into small pieces and microwave it in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap. I usually add 1-2 tbsp of water to help it steam and microwave it for 5-6 minutes on 600W.
If it's not soft enough to mash, simply add it back to the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until you reach the desired softness.
Allow the filling to cool completely
In order to shape kabocha korroke easily, the filling needs to be completely cool. Once you've finished cooking it in the pan, transfer it to a wide container (wider containers will allow it to cool faster).
When it's cool to the touch, you can refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or until it's time to shape.
This recipe makes enough for 12 ball-shaped kabocha korokke, but you can also make them into a disk shape (4-6 depending on size.) Disk shape is good for if you want to shallow fry rather than deep fry, but the ball shape makes a fun finger food!
Before shaping, divide the filling into portions so that the size is uniform.
Once shaped, I like to put the croquettes in the freezer for 5-10 minutes while I heat my oil, this helps them keep the shape better without breaking.
As with most deep fried goods, korokke is coated with flour, an egg batter and then finally the panko breadcrumbs.
The flour needs to be a thin even layer. If it's too thick, lumps of flour will stop the egg batter from sticking. The same goes for the egg batter, let all the excess drip off otherwise your panko breadcrumbs will become wet and messy.
Be generous with panko and press it over the korokke to ensure it doesn't fall off when it's frying.
The best way to cook korokke is by deep frying and the perfect temperature is between 170 to 180 degrees Celsius (340-355°F). This temperature allows outer coat to become beautifully crispy while sufficiently heating the filling.
If the temperature of the oil is too low, it will take too long to fry and the korokke will absorb too much oil, making it greasy and unpleasant.
On the other hand, if the heat is too high, the panko might burn while the middle is still cold. Since the inside is already cooked, you don't need to worry about it being undercooked... but you do want it to be hot all the way through!
Don't overcrowd the oil
When deep frying, it's important not to overcrowd the oil. The first reason is that adding too many will lower the temperature of the oil and make the korokke greasy.
The other reason is that too many in the pan will bump together and knock off the panko breadcrumbs. I recommend frying kabocha korokke in 2-3 batches depending on the size of your pan.
Kabocha korokke keeps very well in the freezer. Whether it's before or after frying, you can keep them in the freezer for about 1 month.
You can heat them up in the oven or under the grill.
Other Variations of Korokke
Of course, Japan loves to put their own twist on dishes and there are plenty of types of korokke that don't use potatoes. Here are a few variations of korokke you can find.
- Meat korokke (牛肉コロッケ) made with meat and potatoes
- Kabocha korokke (かぼちゃコロッケ) made with Japanese pumpkin
- Kani Kurimu korokke (カニクリームコロッケ) made with crab and white sauce
- Yasai korokke (野菜コロッケ) made with mixed vegetables
- Kare korokke (カレーコロッケ) flavoured with curry spice
Korokke is a great dish for lunch, bento boxes and dinner, so let's get started!Print
Japanese "Kabocha" Pumpkin Croquettes
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 2 servings
How to make crispy Japanese Pumpkin Korokke! (かぼちゃコロッケ) Soft, sweet and tasty Japanese winter squash covered in crispy panko breadcrumbs and deep fried, then drizzled with a tangy sauce.
- 400g of Japanese Kabocha (See note)
- 1-2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp ketchup
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 2 tbsp grated cheese (meltable kind like cheddar)
- ¼ medium onion finely diced
- 15g unsalted butter
- ½ tbsp plain flour
- 50ml whole milk
- 50ml cold water
- 1 egg
- 5 tbsp + 3 tbsp plain flour
- Approx 50-75g panko breadcrumbs
- Oil for deep frying
- Parsley to garnish (optional)
For the sauce
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- First peel the kabocha and cut it roughly into chunks.
- Place in a microwavable bowl or container, add 1-2 tbsp of water and cover it with plastic wrap. Pierce the plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes on 600w. (If the kabocha isn't soft enough, microwave again at 30 second intervals. Be careful of steam when removing the plastic wrap.)
- Mash the kabocha with a potato masher until smooth and no lumps remain.
- Add 1 tsp ketchup, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 pinch nutmeg, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper and 2 tbsp of meltable grated cheese to the bowl. Mix well until the condiments are well incorporated into the kabocha, the cheese will melt into the mixture.
- Take a pan and melt the 15g unsalted butter on a medium-low heat.
- Once melted, add ¼ finely diced onion and sauté until the onion is softened and transparent. (Don't let it brown.)
- Add ½ tbsp of plain flour and mix well. Once incorporated, lower the heat to low and add 50ml of whole milk. Stir continuously.
- When the mixture starts to thicken, add the seasoned kabocha and mix everything together in the pan.
- Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the filling to a wide container. Allow to cool and then store in the refrigerator for 20-30 mins.
- After chilling, take it out and shape it as you like. The korokke can be be round, oval or cylindrical. For bitesize balls, I divided the mixture into 12.
- Once shaped, place them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes while you heat your oil and prepare the coating stations.
Coating and frying
- Preheat your oil to 170-180°C / 340-355°F.
- Take a bowl and add 50ml cold water, 1 egg and 5 tbsp plain flour. Whisk together until smooth. This is your batter.
- Prepare two plates, one with 3 tbsp of flour and one with 50-75g panko breadcrumbs.
- Remove the shaped korokke from the freezer and coat each one in plain flour, then egg batter, then a generous coating of panko breadcrumbs. Press down the panko to secure it.
- Once hot enough, place the korokke in the oil. Be careful not to overcrowd, if in doubt fry in batches.
- Fry for a few minutes on each side or until golden all over.
- Once golden, transfer to a wire rack to allow the excess oil to drip off.
- Take a small bowl and mix 2 tbsp ketchup and 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce together.
- Sprinkle the korokke with dry parsley and serve with the sauce.
If you can't get Japanese Kabocha, you could also use butternut squash.
Peeling the kabocha skin is optional.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Chilling time: 40 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Category: Deep frying
- Method: Frying
- Cuisine: Japanese
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