Crab and Chorizo Croquetas with Pea Mayonnaise
Updated: Mar 24, 2020
"How lucky he is, young Béchameil! I served some thinly sliced breast of chicken with cream more than twenty years before he was born, yet I have never had the privilege of giving my name to the most modest of sauces!"
17th Century Duke of Escars
Three good things: I mentioned this idea in a previous post and it's an idea totally due to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his book "Hugh's Three Good Things". On pp. 197 the combination of crab, peas and chorizo is proposed. Now, I am very confident that HFW will not be put out if I say that I tried the recipe and frankly it wasn't for me. The reason for that confidence is that in the introduction he writes "All the combinations here are entirely open to interpretation and re-invention" and that is exactly what I have done here: I have taken the flavour combination that he suggests and come up with a totally different dish.
From a seasonality point-of-view, it's not the seafood here that is the subject of the season. Indeed, brown crab is one of the seafoods we can get all year round albeit with the clear-and-present spectre of rising prices (see link). The seasonal element is the peas, which do, indeed, go terribly well with crab. Fresh peas in the pod are very much a feature of summertime, and a summertime feature on the veg stalls in the market. That said, out-of-season, frozen peas are a totally agreeable alternative.
This is a great way of using one of the tubs of 50/50 white and brown crab meat that are available on the stall.
Many, including myself until not so long ago, think that the filling of the classic Spanish "croqueta" contains potato. It's in fact a Béchamel, but a well-stiffened one. Consequently it's quite important to stick to quantities and timings that are known to work, otherwise the croquetas could turn out floury, stodgy or collapse when fried.
This recipe is pretty easy, but takes a little time and needs some advance preparation. The good news is that the final cook is simple and quick. So the croquetas can, and indeed, should be constructed ahead of time and kept in the fridge until it's time to cook them up.
Crab and Chorizo Croquetas with Pea Mayonnaise
Ingredients (makes about 15 croquetas)
Splash of extra virgin olive oil
15g shallot, finely chopped (approx. 1 tbsp)
20g flour, plus extra for forming the croquetas
180ml whole milk, hot
75g white crab meat
75g brown crab meat
25g finely chopped chorizo (approx. 2 tbsp)
Nutmeg, freshly grated, or ground mace
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
Breadcrumbs (Panko are especially good)
50g cooked fresh (or frozen) peas
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp mayonnaise (ideally, home-made)
Sunflower oil for deep-frying
Heat the butter and olive oil in a saucepan and sweat the shallot for a couple of minutes.
Stir in the flour and, over a low heat, cook for about 8-10 minutes to lose the raw taste of the flour.
Gradually incorporate the hot milk. Beat until smooth then cook for about 15 minutes over a low heat to stiffen up the Béchamel until it reaches the consistency of mashed potato.
Fold in the white and brown crab meat, the chopped chorizo and season to taste with ground black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg or ground mace.
Allow the filling to cool then put in a shallow bowl and cover with cling film. It is important to make sure the cling film is in contact with the surface of the filling to prevent a skin forming. Transfer to the fridge and leave for at least 2 hours.
Meanwhile make the pea mayonnaise. Put the peas, mint, a squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of olive oil in a blender and whizz to a paste. This may require a few drops of water. Pass the paste through a sieve with the back of a ladle. Stir in the mayonnaise and season to taste with salt, pepper and a further squeeze of lemon juice. The pea mayonnaise is now ready and can be left in the fridge until it's time to serve.
Take the croqueta filling out of the fridge and put the beaten egg and the breadcrumbs in separate bowls or dishes. Line a plate or tray with greaseproof paper. With floured hands, take golf-ball-sized lumps of the filling and form them into croquetas. Dip in the beaten egg, then coat with the breadcrumbs and put on the greaseproof paper. When all the croquetas are formed and crumbed, return to the fridge for a further half an hour at least, or until ready to fry.
Heat sufficient sunflower oil in a saucepan large enough to deep-fry 4-6 croquetas at a time. Ideally, the oil should be at around 180°C. Deep-fry the croquetas in batches, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Serve immediately with the pea mayonnaise for dipping.
Hidalgo Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana. This is a dry sherry which allows it to be enjoyed with food. Sufficient presence on the palate to share space with a pretty pokey platemate. https://www.waitrose.com/ecom/products/hidalgo-manzanilla-pasada-pastrana-sherry/795462-113188-113189
"Rick Stein issues crab shortage warning", BBC, accessed 12 July 2019: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-45758266
"Hugh's Three Good Things", Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2012), pp. 197: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hughs-Three-Good-Things-Fearnley-Whittingstall/dp/1408828588