Béchamel based Creamy Shrimp Croquettes are as popular as Korokke (Japanese Potato and Ground Meat Croquettes) in Japan. They might look a bit fiddly but actually it doesn’t take long to make them. Unlike potato-based croquettes, you can enjoy the rich creamy flavour without pouring a sauce over the top.
Japanese people do like croquettes and so do I. There are so many different kinds of Japanese croquettes sold at food stores in Japan and they are basically divided into two groups – potato-based croquettes and béchamel-based croquettes.
The potato croquettes are generically called ‘poteto korokke’ (ポテトコロッケ) and the béchamel-based creamy croquettes are called ‘kurīmu korokke” (クリームコロッケ). By adding different ingredients to the base, each kind of croquette is given a unique name.
For example, mixed vegetables in potato-based croquettes are called ‘yasai korokke’ (野菜コロッケ) . If vegetables are in béchamel sauce, it becomes ‘yasai kurīmu korokke’ (野菜クリームコロッケ). The word ‘yasai’ (野菜) means vegetables.
Depending on the ingredients that go with béchamel sauce, the method of making the croquette base varies slightly. But fundamentally, it’s a mixture of béchamel sauce and the key ingredients with flavouring.
Flavouring of My Creamy Shrimp Croquettes
Some recipes add chicken stock powder to give a good flavour to the béchamel sauce. Some recipes sauté prawns and onions first with a small amount of wine, then mix into to the béchamel sauce.
I tried both methods, but I wasn’t happy with the prawn flavours in the sauce. So, I decided to cook fresh prawns (with shells on) in milk to extract a good prawn flavour, then use the milk to make béchamel sauce (see the first photo of step-by-step photo in the next section). The cooked prawns are peeled, chopped and mixed into the béchamel sauce.
This is faster than sautéing the prawns separately, is less oily and gives a good prawn flavour to the sauce. When cooking the prawns in milk, I also add a small amount of onions, a bay leaf, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Key Points to Shape Béchamel Sauce into Croquettes.
Compared to the béchamel sauce used to make Macaroni Gratin, the sauce for the creamy croquettes is much thicker. The amount of milk used in this recipe is less for the amount of roux made with butter and flour.
But while it is still warm, the sauce is too soft to shape. There are a couple of things you can do to make your life easier.
- Chill the mixture in the fridge or freezer. When chilled, the butter in the sauce hardens and the mixture becomes like a dough. Spread the béchamel mixture in a tray into a square or a rectangle shape (so that you can divide it into equal portions easily). Cover the surface with cling wrap to prevent it from drying and chill it.
- Oil your hands to shape the mixture into a fat log shape (see the photo below). Without it, you will find that the mixture sticks to your hands.
- As soon as you make fat logs, coat them in flour, egg and panko breadcrumbs. The longer you leave them, the softer the mixture gets (unless your room is super cold!) and this will make it more difficult to keep the shape.
The inside of the croquette is already cooked so you don’t need to deep fry for a long time. You only fry croquettes for about a couple of minutes at 175-180C/350F until the breadcrumbs become golden brown.
Perfect Frozen Food
The beauty of this dish is that you can make croquettes ahead of time, freeze them and re-heat them later. You can freeze them either before deep frying or after deep frying. Frozen croquettes keep about a month.
Freeze Before Frying
Storage: Wrap each crumbed croquette in cling wrap and place them on a flat tray without overlapping. Once frozen, you can pile them up in a bag or a container to store.
Cooking: Defrost in a microwave for 1 minute (per croquette), then deep fry at 175-180C/350F until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the oil with too many croquettes.
Freeze After Frying
Storage: Wrap each croquette in cling wrap and place them on a flat tray without overlapping. Alternatively, place croquettes without touching each other in a container with a lid and freeze. Once frozen, you can pile them up in a bag or a container to store.
Reheating: Microwave for a minute to defrost (per croquette), then place them on a tray with a rack or lined with scrunched aluminium foil. Bake at 200C/392F for 15 minutes.
Creamy inside and crunchy outside, this is a great way to enjoy the Japanese version of a Western style dish. Best to eat while hot – see how soft the inside of the croquette is!
From the nutrition perspective, Creamy Shrimp Croquettes are slightly higher calories than Korokke (Japanese Potato and Ground Meat Croquettes), possibly because of the amount of butter and milk included in the béchamel sauce. But when you eat them you don’t find them heavy at all. They are actually quite light yet sufficiently rich.
P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Béchamel based Creamy Shrimp Croquettes are as popular as Korokke (Japanese Potato and Ground Meat Croquettes) in Japan. They might look a bit fiddly but actually it does not take long to make them. Great to make ahead and freeze.
Unlike potato-based croquettes, you can enjoy the rich creamy flavour without pouring a sauce over the top.
Total Time does not include the time to chill the béchamel mixture.
- 150g/5.3oz fresh medium size prawns/shrimps in shell (note 1)
- 50g/1.8oz onion roughly chopped
- 300ml/10.1oz milk
- A couple of shakes of nutmeg powder
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ tsp of salt
- 30g/1.1oz butter
- 40g/1.4oz flour
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 egg , beaten
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Neutral oil (vegetable, canola) for deep frying
- Shredded cabbage
- 2 sprigs parsley
Add the Creamy Shrimp Mixture ingredients, except butter and flour, to a saucepan and heat over medium high heat.
When the outside of the milk starts bubbling, shake the pan occasionally so that the milk does not burn along the side of the pan.
When the milk starts simmering gently, turn the heat down to low and simmer for a minute or until the prawns become red and curled up.
Remove from the heat and leave for another minute. Put the milk through a sieve and reserve for béchamel sauce.
Let the prawns cool down a bit, then remove heads and peel the shells. Chop each prawn into 3-4 small pieces.
Melt butter in a frying pan over low heat.
Add flour and mix well. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly ensuring the roux does not change colour.
Add 1/3 of the reserved milk and mix well to incorporate until lump free (note 2).
Add the remaining milk to the roux in two batches and mix well in the same way.
Add prawn pieces and mix to spread prawns evenly.
Transfer the mixture to a tray and shape it into a square or a rectangle of about 2.5cm/1” thickness.
Cover the surface of the mixture with cling wrap to prevent it from drying up. Let it cool down, then chill in the fridge for a couple of hours (note 3).
Divide the shrimp mixture into 6 equal portions.
Oil your hands and shape each portion into a fat log shape.
Place flour, egg and breadcrumbs individually in shallow plates or bowls.
Coat each piece with flour, egg, then breadcrumbs. Ensure that the surface of the croquette is well covered with the coatings otherwise the soft cream will ooze out from the gap while frying.
Heat oil in a deep fry pan to 175-180C/350F. Gently drop a few pieces in (note 4) and fry for a couple of minutes until the breadcrumbs become golden brown.
Transfer the croquette to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil, or a tray with a rack.
Serve immediately with shredded cabbage and a stem of parsley leaves.
1. If you only have peeled prawns, you will need 80g. The prawn flavour in the milk will not be as intense.
2. If required, use a whisk to remove lumps.
3. You could chill it in the freezer too. As long as the béchamel mixture becomes cold and firm it will be OK to shape croquettes.
4. I used a small sauce pan to deep fry three croquettes at a time. After dropping one croquette in the oil, I placed another croquette on top of the one in the oil so that the croquette gently rolled into the oil.
5. You can freeze Creamy Shrimp Croquettes either before deep frying or after deep frying. Frozen croquettes keep about a month.
FREEZE BEFORE FRYING: Wrap each crumbed croquette in cling wrap and place them on a flat tray without overlapping. Once frozen, you can pile them up in a bag or a container to store.
To cook, defrost in a microwave for 1 minute (per croquette), then deep fry at 175-180C/350F until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the oil with too many croquettes.
FREEZE AFTER FRYING: Wrap each croquette in cling wrap and place them on a flat tray without overlapping. Alternatively, place croquettes without touching each other in a container with a lid and freeze. Once frozen, you can pile them up in a bag or a container to store.
To reheat, microwave for a minute (per croquette) to defrost, then place them on a tray lined with scrunched aluminium foil. Bake at 175-180C/350F for 15 minutes.
6. Nutrition per croquette, assuming that the amount of oil absorbed into a croquette is 10% of the weight of the croquette.
serving: 139g calories: 378kcal fat: 18g (28%) saturated fat: 3.3g (16%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 4.4g monounsaturated fat: 9.3g cholesterol: 40mg (13%) sodium: 284mg (12%) potassium: 203mg (6%) carbohydrates: 44g (15%) dietary fibre: 2.1g (8%) sugar: 1.9g protein: 9.6g vitamin a: 4.2% vitamin c: 1.9% calcium: 8.8 % iron: 15 %