“Korokke”–Japanese potato croquettes–are a snack beloved by all ages in Japan, although they are especially popular with Japanese children. But let’s be honest- who wouldn’t like deep fried mashed potatoes? Korokke are considered yōshoku (洋食), or “Western style food,” and are thought to be derived from French croquette or Dutch kroket. Whatever the case may be, they’ve been a popular in Japan since the early 1900s, and have evolved to suit more Japanese tastes. This recipe is for a very basic, classic style of korokke, but there are many different types of korokke now, to suit many different tastes, such as curry korokke (spiced with curry powder), fall pumpkin korokke (made with kabocha pumpkin), ham and cheese korokke, and even nikujaga korokke (made using mashed leftover nikujaga stew). So if you like making korokke, you can be as creative as you want!
Making korokke can take some time, so many people in Japan don’t make korokke at home, even though they may eat korokke pretty regularly. This is because in Japan, you can buy korokke in many stores- from the hot delis inside supermarkets, to sit-down restaurants and take away bento shops, to the ubiquitous convenience stores, there’s no shortage of places to grab a quick korokke. However, the *best* place to buy korokke in Japan is rumored to be from butcher shops, which usually have a small deep-frying set-up in the corner, where the korokke are sold as quickly as they are fried. Early evenings is the busiest time for such shops, as busy dinner shoppers and hungry middle or high schoolers pour in, seeking fast and affordable food. Outside of Japan, a good korokke can be hard to find, so many Japanese living abroad end up making their own at home, usually in large batches so they can freeze korokke for a fast meal or snack later.
Korokke are typically served either for lunch or dinner, or eaten as a filling snack between meals because each little croquette is like an all-in-one-meal. You can eat your korokke on their own, or serve them with a little salad, some pickles, and rice, or with curry (like a katsu curry) to make them into a more well-rounded meal. Other suggested side dishes include kyuri no sunomono (Japanese cucumber salad), veggies dressed with goma ae (胡麻和え), a sesame dressing, and s njoy korokke with the sauce of your choice- tonkatsu sauce, a little Japanese mayonnaise, or ketchup are common options- or you can eat them as is.
For the korokke:
- 1 lb (500g) starchy potatoes
- 0.3lb (120g) ground beef
- 0.15lb (70g) onion
- 0.15lb (70g) carrot
- 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 egg
- 4 Tbsp. plain flour
- 3 Tbsp. water
- 1 Tsp. Japanese mayonnaise (such as Kewpie brand)
- 2 cups of Japanese panko bread crumbs
- neutral flavored oil for deep frying (such as vegetable or peanut oil)
Peel and dice the potatoes, and cook in boiling water for about 10 minutes; potatoes are done when you can easily pierce the potatoes with the tines of a fork or a skewer.
While the potatoes are cooking, finely chop the onion and carrot and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a frying pan over high heat and add the mince to cook. When the color of most of the ground beef changes, add onion and carrot to cook for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Strain the water from the potatoes, put them back in the pot and shake them around to rough up the outsides a little. The potatoes will become coated in a fine powdery coating and have a snowy appearance- this technique is called “kofuki imo“- see the cook’s notes below for more on this technique).
Mash or rice the potatoes while they are still warm (using a potato masher or ricer), and then add in the cooked ground beef, onions, and carrots. Mix well, but avoid over-mixing to make sure the potatoes stay nice and fluffy. (Some cooks recommend adding a beaten egg to help the mixture hold together better; I haven’t found this step to be necessary, but if you are having trouble getting your korokke to hold their shape, a little egg may be just the thing you need.)
Once the mixture has cooled a bit (just enough that you can hold a bit of it in your hands), divide the mix into eight equal portions, and shape into flattened ovals to form your korokke. You can divide the eight portions further if you want to make smaller korokke that will fit inside a bento box.
Combine the egg, water, mayonnaise, and flour in a small bowl to make a batter.
Coat each oval with batter, then coat each batter oval in panko crumbs.
Heat oil in a deep pan until it reaches around 350°F (180°C). If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test your oil by dropping in a few panko bread crumbs- if the oil is hot enough, the panko crumbs should float and sizzle right away.
Fry each korokke until crispy and golden brown; this should only take a minute or so. Remove fried korokke from pan using a spider or large slotted spoon, and drain fried korokke on paper towels or a wire rack.
*Calories: 383kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 472mg | Potassium: 473mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1490IU | Vitamin C: 4.7mg | Calcium: 127mg | Iron: 4.2mg
*actual calories and nutritional values may vary depending on ingredients, portion size, and type of oil used for frying; these values are provided as general guidelines only.
A well-made korokke is crispy on the outside, and “hoku hoku (ほくほく) on the inside. What’s “hoku hoku”? Well, it’s sort of starchy and dense, yet still fluffy and light, and perhaps a bit sweet tasting too. It’s somewhat hard to accurately describe in English, but a lot of typical Japanese fall foods like roasted sweet chestnuts, winter squash, and sweet potatoes are all considered “hoku hoku,” as are some starchy potatoes. To achieve that “hoku hoku” interior texture in your korokke, you’ll need to take two factors into consideration:
- First, you’ll want to use potatoes that are high in starch and low in moisture. In Japan, most cooks would probably use the “danshaku” (男爵) variety of potatoes, but in the U.S. the closest equivalent is probably the humble Russet potato, which you might also see labeled as “Idaho” or “baking” potatoes.
- Second, don’t skip the step of shaking the potatoes around in the pot to rough up the outsides (just after cooking, but before you mash them)- this technique is called “kofuki imo” (粉吹き芋, literally “powdered potatoes”), and it helps decrease the amount of moisture in the potato through evaporation and makes the potato fluffier overall.
For an easy and fast-coking option for a busy weeknight dinner, you can make korokke in bulk and freeze them. Make recipe as directed, but instead of frying them right away, wrap each uncooked croquette individually in cling wrap and seal in a ziplock freezer bag. The korokke will keep for about a month in the freezer. When you’re ready to cook, just reach in the bag, unwrap as many korokke as you like, and deep fry- you don’t even need to defrost them.
You can also freeze leftover cooked korokke; simply separate with paper towels or wax paper once the korokke have cooled, and store in an airtight container. You can reheat frozen cooked korokke by placing on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper and baking at 350°F (180°C) for 15 minutes or until inside is warm (you can half-defrost the frozen cooked korokke to speed up cooking time).
last updated August 17, 2023