Meat Korokke (コロッケ) with Cumin, or Potato, Meat and Mushroom Croquettes

“Comfort food” usually means uncomplicated, nostalgic home dishes, often bringing back childhood memories. Sometimes, however, a new culinary discovery  feels instantly homely and comforting, almost like a regular meal from a previous life. This is exactly what happened when I tasted these croquettes. They are simple, contain almost exclusively Western ingredients (apart from the Japanese panko, which in my opinion is at the top in the world of bread crumbs) and are so universally enjoyable, I cannot imagine anyone hating them. Even their cute shape somehow makes me smile and feel relaxed.

The name “korokke” (コロッケ) comes from the French word “croquette” and this dish first appeared in the Japanese cuisine at the beginning of the XXth century. Korokke are based either on white sauce or potatoes and contain such additional ingredients as ground meat, mushrooms, vegetables or shrimps. My first potato korokke bought in a Japanese fast food shop was bland and completely uninteresting. I didn’t think for a second of preparing anything similar at home. This was before I  saw the version made by Nami (Just One Cookbook), the never-ending source of marvellous Japanese dishes. Nami’s appealing photos didn’t lie: her korokke have absolutely nothing in common with the bland pretenders I remembered. Thank you, Nami, for the umpteenth delight you have made me discover!

Since I have a very annoying habit of modifying even the perfect dishes, I did something I have been doing for years with mushroom and beef dishes: I added a bit of ground cumin. Its taste is not recognisable, but like in the case of my Mushroom Soup, it adds a certain je-ne-sais-quoi I am very proud of. I have also added more mushrooms and vegetables, so that they make at least half of the korokke mixture. As I have already mentioned, I often prepared korokke with button mushrooms instead of shiitake. The result was different, but by no means worse. I have skipped the raw egg since, surprisingly, my patties kept perfectly well together without any “gluing” agent. Click here to see Nami’s original recipe.

TIPS: Korokke can be prepared one or two days in advance, kept in the fridge and then taken out one hour before breading and frying process. If you use button mushrooms, double the amounts, since they are not as aromatic as shiitake.

Preparation: 1 h 30 – 2 h

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 kg potatoes

400 g ground beef

100 g shiitake or 200 g button mushrooms

2 carrots

1 big onion

salt, pepper

1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin

1 egg

10 tablespoons flour

20 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

oil for deep frying

Chop finely the carrots and the onion.

Heat a small amount of oil in a pan, add the onions, fry them for a couple of minutes and then add the carrots together with the mushrooms.

When mushrooms start changing their colour, add the beef, salt, pepper and cumin.

Cook until the carrot pieces are soft.

In the meantime cook the potatoes. Peel them and mash them with a fork or with a potato masher, leaving some chunks.

Combine the potatoes with the vegetables. Taste the mixture and season once more if needed.

Shape flat round patties (mine had a 6 cm diameter), coat them first in flour, then in the raw egg and then in panko.

Deep fry in small batches (they should be able to “swim” easily) until golden brown. (I put some panko in the oil and if it starts making bubbles and fried immediately, it means the oil is hot enough).

They are very good served with the Japanese tonkatsu sauce (Bull Dog).

44 Replies to “Meat Korokke (コロッケ) with Cumin, or Potato, Meat and Mushroom Croquettes”

  1. I have memories of potato croquettes and even chicken croquettes that my mother made. Those recipes do bring a feeling of comfort to me. And I love finding new recipes that take a part of what I know. I think my son will love these!!

  2. This sounds and looks absolutely awesome. I hope to one day try making these. It brings memories of a baked breaded ‘thing’ I used to eat in NZ. It has meat, maybe veges, cheese etc. I don’t remember the name but it was awesome and I haven’t had it in many years. And now I want karaoke, oops korokke

    1. Thank you so much, Mr. Three-Cookies. I have never heard about the breaded thing, but it sounds equally luscious! Thank you for a great memorisation trick 😉

      1. I’m going to try this soon. In my Glamorgan Sausages post I mentioned that the sausage reminded me of a pie I ate in NZ. Its the same thing I mentioned in my earlier comment above:)
        Also I tried pickled ginger – changed the recipe slightly. Nice, thanks.

        1. Hi, Mr. Three-Cookies. HAve you really made pickled ginger??? I’m thrilled to learn it! I do encourage you to make European (long-term) time of pickled ginger next time. Same recipe, but you have to process jars in hot water bath (it’s explained in my preserving posts, very easy) because the jar I opened last week after several months in the pantry was amazing! I had it in one go on my own. The ginger mellowed, the flavours are richer and more interesting…
          Do try korokke. I’m sure you will find them irresistible. It’s still one of my 3 favourite Japanese recipes and I don’t think it will ever go to a lower position.

  3. Somehow I knew Mr T was going to say “karaoke” 😀
    Anyway, these certainly brought back some very good childhood memories where my mum used to make these so well. The ingredients are pretty much the same except for the meat where she used minced pork. Love this post!

    1. Thank you so much, Ping! Apparently, you know Mr. Three-Cookies very well 😉 I knew korokke have a very international taste, but didn’t know their tradition was so international too! Minced pork sounds excellent too! Thank you for another modification idea.

  4. Hee-hee, I love that the shape of the croquettes makes you feel relaxed and happy and I know exactly what you mean. Amazing how impacting the aesthetics of food can be. These look lovely Sissi and I appreciate the fact that they can be assembled ahead of time (I’m always on the lookout for economy of time ;0) – the cumin is wonderful! (and I agree, it worked well in the soup too :)).

    1. Kelly, thank you for understanding my strange attachment to the cute round shape! (I simply find Nami’s round version much more joyful and positive than the oval one I see very often). They looked scary at first, but actually they are very convenient and easy to make. I am happy you liked the cumin touch in the soup. Thank you for your kind feedback messages.

  5. Yay, you finally made the korokke…:)!! You’re faster than me, Sissi, I have been thinking to make Korokko too for ages, but so far I’ve been too lazy to do so…! I loved to buy korokke as snack in a nearby food court in Sydney China Town. Unfortunately I don’t have this convenience anymore…:( Well, at least it has made me a better cook, I think ;).

    1. CG, are you joking? Too lazy??? Korokke are 100x less time-consuming, less arduous and less complicated than most of the incredible creations you put into your bentos.
      Apart from the bland tasteless plain potato korokke, I have never tasted anything similar here, so I have no choice (like with the majority of Japanese dishes I make).

  6. I’m so happy you like Korokke. I told you Sissi, you were Japanese in previous life. It’s guaranteed. 😉 I’m totally going to try adding cumin next time. My Korokke already has carrots and shiitake mushrooms (reg. one doesn’t have them) so why not. My mom is coming next month… I gotta ask her to make her version! Ohhh I’m so excited. Korokke is still my #1 favorite food. Yours look so good now I want to eat them so bad… I wish I can make this in 30 mins, then I’d be eating this twice a week. Haha. Thanks for the mention again, and please allow me to share on my facebook page. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much, Nami! Your compliment means so much to me! (Although I wish I can photograph them one day in daylight… I always have them for dinner 🙁 ) I will soon start believing in reincarnation! I keep on having this “previous life” experience quite often with Japanese food…
      You must be so excited to taste your mum’s korokke soon! I cannot even imagine how good she must cook to have transmitted all the skills and palate to you!
      Korokke is almost my favourite too. It is now fighting with other 3 or four Japanese dishes for the first place… I am hesitating between certain maki sushi, oyakodon and korokke. Thank you, Nami. It’ so kind of you to mention me on facebook!

  7. Those look fabulous and comforting indeed. I always make my own bread crumbs, you might make a panko convert out of me yet.

    1. Thank you, Greg. I also always make my own breadcrumbs. I always us the home-made. Apart from all the deep-fried dishes. Panko is crunchier and lighter.

  8. Ah, why do I have to be on a fat reduced diet?! No deep fried dishes for me for a long time. But the day will come I am going to eat these fellows.

    1. Kiki, I would love to be able to follow a fat-reduced diet… I have been trying to reduce fat for years, I think my present diet is not bad, but sometimes I simply cannot resist certain deep-fried dishes.

    1. Thank you! It reminds me of some men I know, who, when asked what vegetable they prefer, say : potato 😉

    1. Thank you! If I didn’t deep-fry at home, I would never taste good korokke (not that I’m boasting, it’s just that restaurants don’t serve it here and the fast-food ones are awful). Strangely I have never seen deep-frying as a problem (apart from the fat intake of course!). I don’t have much more splatters than with pan frying and I filter the oil, then reuse it several times.

  9. These look so good! I’ve always wanted to try croquettes but that would require making them, since there aren’t any places that I know of out here that sell them. And I haven’t gotten around to making them yet… maybe eventually, because they look and sound amazing!!

    1. Thank you, Stefanie. I don’t have good korokke here either. Do try making them, they are really very easy to prepare!

  10. The best croquette I ever had in the world (or should I say “korokke”?) was in a restaurant in Japan. It was outrageously expensive but just the most amazing thing ever. Smooth, creamy, Mmm. I’ve been meaning to make something like this myself for so long – proper ones like this though… not just random, shallow-fried pellets of potato and then try and tell myself it’s the same thing. 😀

    I have the same problem – I have to modify things, even if someone says it’s the most perfect thing ever. When you talk about tonkatsu sauce above? Is that similar to Okonomiyaki sauce? I think they would be perfect with that!

    1. Charles, I bet the best croquette you have ever had was in Japan… Maybe it was creamy you had the white sauce korokke? (I haven’t dared trying this one yet, but I certainly will one day!).
      I think it’s the same sauce… You know the most famous brand has a bull dog picture and the brand’s name is Bull dog. It’s funny because I have had this sauce for years and haven’t used it (I tasted it once at the beginning, I thought it wasn’t really good and then have forgotten it). When Nami told me about the tonkatsu sauce I realised I had it and then I realised it was perfect with korokke! (here is the link to the sauce I always use:

      1. Ah, it’s not quite the same I think – but it looks similar to an English sauce… not quite a ketchup, called “HP Sauce”, maybe you know it? It goes really well with fried things like this.

        I remember the restaurant well… there was a small river running around it, with a bridge over the river in the middle of the restaurant. The walls were black slate, and there were no lights above knee height, possibly with small spot-lights above the tables. Most of the tables were private booths, off the little river, but we sat at a table instead. The croquette was just incredible. Golden shell, delicious, smooth potato, and in the centre a creamy mixture of cheesey ham stuff I think. Darn – now I’m feeling so hungry :/

        1. It’s similar in taste to HP sauce, I have to taste them both at the same time to see the difference, but they are not exactly the same.
          It’s written ‘tonkatsu sauce’ on my sauce.
          The restaurant in Japan must have been really special and from your surroundings description I’m not surprised it was expensive!

  11. I just wanted to say “hello”. I have seen your comments on so many of the blogs that I read regularly and I wanted to visit. I am glad that I did as I have really enjoyed your posts. I love croquettes and these sound so good with the mushrooms.

    1. Hi Karen! Thank you for visiting my blog and for the compliments. I am very happy you like my blog and hope to see you back soon.

  12. I’ve had potato and ground beef croquettes before but I’m sure this version is a lot more flavorful because of all the other ingredients that you added. The color of the croquettes popped on that beautiful bowl, Sissi! 🙂

    ~ ray ~

    1. Thank you so much, Ray. Nami’s idea of putting mushroom and carrots almost makes these korokke healthy 😉 It makes one feel less guilty for sure!

  13. I agree with Nami about you being a Japanese in your previous life 😀 I mean, your posts and knowledge on Japanese cooking are incredible! You haven`t even lived in Japan, have you?? Since I don`t do deep-fry at home, I only eat store-bought korokke. The potato korokke is undoubtedly wonderful, but I also love the one with cream and cheese inside. No potato. Just creamy cheesy filling. I have no idea how to make it, but I`m lucky I can just buy them 😀

    1. You both will end up by convincing me one day 😉 No, I haven’t lived in Japan, I have not even been to Japan 🙁 As you might have probably noticed, every single post about Japanese recipe has a very precise Japanese source. I only borrow other people’s ideas 🙂
      I must try the creamy korokke which looks much more challenging (I think Nami has posted it one day too). You are so lucky to have probably the most delicious store-bought korokke. Here they are really awful.

  14. I just spotted the picture of these potato fritters/cakes and had to comment on how wonderful they look. Thank you, and Nami who inspired you, for another exciting Japanese recipe.

    1. Thank you for the compliment! You have just reminded me I haven’t had croquettes for too long 😉

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