Hey everyone, Kayoko here again, sitting in for Yoko this week.
I'm pretty broke these days, and haven't been eating out much. Plus, it's cold out-- I mean, the Bay Area isn't as cold as London/ Tokyo/ Copenhagen/ NYC, but still, it's pretty chilly for us Californians (low hi 52˚F/ low 42˚F, today. Sorry Snow Martians, but you're missing out! Move out here with me and Yoko! We lose to Bryan down in São Paulo however. Ha).
So I'm trying to cook more, while being more mindful of my finances and food shop on the cheap. (WHO AM I?). And I can't think of a more economical yet heartwarming dish than Hideko's korokke (as you know Hideko is my super fierce mama).
Weirdly, I didn't LOVE korokke growing up. Unlike my brother who goes to town on Hideko's typical Japanese home cooking-- korokke, curry, omurice--I always took it for granted. Plus, I was never a huge fan of potatoes. Potato salad, blegh. My palette was always super princessy, I suppose. (Er, not as princessy as Yamahomo's).
But this is all changing lately, as I'm starting to constantly crave these sort of home cooked dishes. Read: they must be cooked AT HOME. It's not the same when you get them at the store, premade and frozen, or order it at a Japanese restaurant. Each korokke patty must be hand-built with tender love + care.
Seems that my palette is changing, my spending habits are changing, and I am getting SUPER CHEESY as I age. Save me.
3 potatoes (these are the smallish Yukon Gold)
1 carrot (these are these lovely small purple ones I found at the farmers market. Super sweet)
1/2 large yellow onion
1/2 packet of panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Salt + pepper to taste
Optional: ground pork, about 1/5lbs.
Yield: 6-8 medium sized korokke
Seriously folks, the above ingredients cost about $4 in total. Umamimart Recession, holla!
Start preparing rice using Yoko's technique. This takes several steps, so you need to make sure to do this ahead of time if you want a bowl of rice with your korokke.
Boil potatoes with the skin on. Hideko swears that by not peeling the potatoes first, it captures the umami factor and makes them taste better. Be forewarned, however, that it takes a very long time for the potatoes to cook thoroughly (about 20-30 minutes). If you're in a time crunch, peel and dice potatoes, then boil.
While the potatoes are boiling, dice onions and carrots. Then, sautée altogether with the ground pork. (Pork is optional, if you want to keep it vegetarian. You can also use ground chicken or beef here, but Hideko says pork is the best).
I kept poking the potatoes with a chopstick until it was thoroughly cooked through. This probably ruined the umami factor. Oy. Again, be prepared for this to take up to 30 minutes.
Drain potatoes and let them cool off a bit. Then, peel with your fingers. Should come off easily.
Slice potatoes through with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mash together.
Add onion/carrot/pork mixture to the potatoes.
Mix together well.
Prep your dipping station with panko, some flour, and egg.
Start shaping the potato mixture into a small circle or oval.
Cover all sides with flour.
Dip into egg, coat all sides.
Coat with panko.
These steps are NOT EASY! The potatoes were so soft and mushy, almost creamy, so it really fell apart in my hands right away. This may have been the potatoes I used-- I may need to try out a starchier potato next time, like the ordinary Idaho potato.
So you'll need to play around with this and figure out how big you want the korokke to be, and what works for you in keeping the shape. Look at all my different shaped korokke!
I had some bacon grease, so I added that to a frying pan.
I actually have a fear of deep frying (cue commercial for the Cornballer), so I didn't add very much oil in the pan that would really constitute "deep frying". This, I would learn, was a big mistake.
Below this is the second deep frying round-- you can tell by all the burnt bits from the first round. Er, not that successful. Let's just say that they ended up looking more like potato latkes.
After the second round, I had only yielded two photographable korokke, out of six. They were all either burnt, misshapen or had fallen apart. I toughened up and added a healthy amount of oil into my cast iron pot.
Here's a video of the frying method. Yamahomo, don't laugh at me!
So that one sort of fell apart on the bottom, but I did fix it by coating that part with another layer of panko and sticking it into the oil again. It worked (although pretty misshapen).
Per tradition, julienne cabbage and serve alongside korokke. The Japanese serve cabbage with anything deep fried with panko-- korokke, tonkatsu, oysters. Something about balancing out the oil and digesting it better?
Would Hideko approve of these? Hmmm, probably not. The color is uneven and the shapes are all over the place. I mean, you couldn't sell these in a restaurant, so props to her for making them every week for Sushi Kuni.
But it's not bad for my first time, right? Like Yamahomo's battles, I will keep trying to perfect these. Next time I'll use a different kind of potato, and maybe add some curry powder (curry korokke being another childhood dislike that sounds awesome these days).
Don't forget the tonkatsu sauce! Buon appetito!
PS: Hideko wanted me to mention that if you plan to make these and immediately freeze them, double the amount of eggs, and make sure to generously coat with that and panko. That is all.