Tiny ball-shaped Pumpkin Croquettes are crispy, sweet and savoury. Each ball is so small that you can pop it into your mouth just like a Lindt chocolate ball. This is a perfect dish for a people gathering occasion to pass around as well as a main or even a side dish.
Pumpkin Croquettes are called ‘kabocha korokke’ (かぼちゃコロッケ) in Japanese. Kabocha is pumpkin and korokke means croquette. It is made in a similar way to the standard Korokke (Japanese Potato and Ground Meat Croquettes). But a subtle flavour of cinnamon and the sweetness of the pumpkin distinguish these croquettes from other croquettes.
What’s in my Pumpkin Croquettes
The main ingredients are almost the same as Korokke ingredients if you replace potatoes with pumpkin. But the flavouring is a bit different.
- 2cm / ¾” cubes of pumpkin, no skin
- Pork mince
- Finely diced onions
- Salt & pepper
- Soy sauce
- Ground nutmeg
- Ground cinnamon
For Deep Frying:
- Beaten egg
- Panko breadcrumbs
In the case of Korokke, I added mirin and sugar to give a sweetness to the croquette base. But pumpkin is so sweet that you don’t need to add any sweetness.
Nutmeg and cinnamon are good match with pumpkin.
How to make Pumpkin Croquettes
- Sauté onion and mince until cooked through, then season the mince.
- Spread pumpkin cubes on a plate, cover and microwave for 5 minutes.
- Mash the pumpkin and mix with the mince.
- Make 16 small balls of about 4cm / 1½” in diameter
- Coat the pumpkin balls in flour, egg, then breadcrumbs.
- Deep-fry at 170°C / 338°F degrees for a couple of minutes.
If you want to be meticulous when making pumpkin balls, you can divide the mixture into 16 equal portions, then make a ball from each portion. Alternatively, you can make about 4cm balls and if you run out of mixture, you just live with a smaller number of balls or take some from larger balls and make up for the last ball.
If you think about it, they do not have to be the same size, and you don’t need to make 16 balls.
Since the ingredients are all cooked already, you only need to deep-fry the croquettes to brown them.
Pumpkin: I used J.A.P (Kent) pumpkin today, but you can use other pumpkin varieties such as butternut and blue pumpkin.
Mince (ground meat): can be just pork or a combination of pork and beef. You could use chicken mince but since the pumpkin flavour is quite prominent, the chicken flavour might be lost.
Cooking pumpkin: I microwaved the pumpkin pieces, but you can steam them instead. I think that microwaving or steaming is better than boiling pumpkin because:
- Cooked pumpkin pieces become too moist when boiled.
- Microwaving and steaming can retain nutrients better.
Shape: Instead of a tiny ball, you can make the flat oval shape of the standard Korokke. Or shape into a fat log like my Creamy Shrimp Croquettes. Depending on the occasion, you may want to change size and shape of the Pumpkin Croquettes.
Make ahead: You can make crumbed pumpkin balls ahead of time and fry them just before serving. You can also freeze the crumbed croquettes before frying. Store the crumbed balls in a container, without touching each other, and freeze them. Deep-fry frozen or only slightly thaw in microwave and fry.
Pumpkin Croquettes are great nibbles for a crowd. The tiny size of the croquette makes it perfect to pack in a bento box too.
Tiny ball-shaped Pumpkin Croquettes are crispy, sweet and savoury. This is a perfect dish for a people gathering occasion to pass around. But pork mince mixed in the mashed pumpkin makes this Pumpkin Croquette perfect for a main dish as well as a bento box.
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 this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 400g / 0.9lb pumpkin peeled and deseeded, cut into 2cm / ¾” cubes (note 1)
- 60g / 2.1oz onion finely chopped
- 2 tsp butter
- 120g / 4.2oz pork mince/ground pork (or 50/50 pork and beef)
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp soy sauce
- A pinch of ground nutmeg
- A pinch of ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Oil to deep fry
- Few sprigs of parsley
Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté onion until the onion pieces become transparent.
Add pork and cook for about 2 minutes until the pork changes the colour and is cooked through. Add salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Mix, then turn the heat off.
Spread the pumpkin pieces on a large plate without overlapping, loosely cover with cling wrap and cook in microwave for 5 minutes at 600W (note 2). If a bamboo skewer can get through a pumpkin pice, it is done.
Mash the pumpkin and transfer to the frying pan. Mix the pumpkin and the mince well. Add nutmeg and cinnamon and mix. Let it cool.
Take a small amount of pumpkin mixture and make a ball of about 4cm / 1½" in diameter. It should make 16 balls (note 3). Wet your hands if the mixture is too sticky.
Coat pumpkin balls in flour, egg, then breadcrumbs.
Heat oil to 170°C / 338°F. Gently drop the pumpkin balls into the oil and fry for a couple of minutes until golden brown (note 4). Transfer to a tray lined with kitchen papers.
Pile the croquettes on a serving plate, place sprigs of parsley to decorate. Serve while hot.
1. I used J.A.P (Kent) pumpkin, but you can use a different varieties of pumpkin such as butternut pumpkin and blue pumpkin.
2. If you cannot fit all the pumpkin pieces on a plate, you can either cook in two batches with a shorter cooking time for each batch or cook at once overlapping and turn over the pumpkins halfway.
3. To evenly divide the mixture into 16, you can spread the pumpkin mixture in the frying pan evenly, then draw diameter lines like cutting a pizza, making 16 thin pies.
16 is not a magic number so if you end up with more or less than 16 balls, that's OK too.
4. You will achieve the best results when you deep-fry with an adequate amount of oil that is deeper than the thickness of the ingredient to fry. Also, the oil should not be over-crowded with the ingredients.
But you can shallow-fry the balls if you prefer. Heat 2cm-deep oil in a frypan to 180°C / 356°F. Fry the pumpkin balls for 2-3 minutes by turning them over occasionally.
5. You can make crumbed pumpkin balls ahead of time and fry them just before serving. You can also freeze the crumbed croquettes. Before frying, freeze the crumbed croquettes, ensuring that they are not touching each other. Deep-fry frozen or only slightly thaw in microwave and fry.
6. Nutrition per croquette assuming that the amount of oil absorbed into a Pumpkin Croquette is 10% of the weight of the croquette.
serving: 53g calories: 111kcal fat: 7.6g (12%) saturated fat: 1.4g (7%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 1.2g monounsaturated fat: 4.5g cholesterol: 18mg (6%) sodium: 89mg (4%) potassium: 132mg (4%) carbohydrates: 8g (3%) dietary fibre: 0.6g (2%) sugar: 1.3g protein: 3g vitamin a: 43% vitamin c: 4.3% calcium: 1.7% iron: 4%