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Japanese Croquettes (Korokke) お母さんのコロッケ

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    Soft creamy potato with ground meat inside a crunchy panko shell, Japanese Croquettes (Korokke) is my absolute favorite Japanese food! This is my mother’s best recipe and I’m sharing her secrets with you.

    A white plate containing Japanese Croquette (Korokke) served with Tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage on the side.

    If there was one food that I must have when I visit my parents back in Japan, it would be Japanese Croquettes or Korokke (コロッケ). Not any kind of korokke but the ones that my mother makes. I could never resist the crispy panko exterior that breaks away into a luscious potato and meat mixture. It is the most delicious and comforting reminder of home!

    Today I’m going to share my mother’s recipe. She often tweaks her korokke as a way to explore new flavors, such as one time she added miso for an extra boost. You too can do the same! Feel free to add a dash of curry powder, incorporate carrot and shiitake mushrooms (see this recipe), or swap the potato and meat with kabocha (see this recipe).

    A white plate containing Korokke served with Tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage on the side.

    What are Japanese Croquettes?

    Japanese croquettes are called Korokke (コロッケ) and the classic style is made of mashed potatoes mixed with sauteed ground beef and onion. The flat oval-shape patties are breaded with light and airy panko breadcrumbs and deep-fried till golden brown and crispy.

    Korokke was introduced in Japan around the late 1800s as a potato filling instead of the traditional French creamy croquettes due to lack of dairy in Japan. These Japanese potato croquettes became one of the top 3 popular Yoshoku (western-influenced dishes) in the early 1900s (Taisho period) along with beef steak and Tonkatsu.

    In Japan, Korokke is known to be homemade food as well as street food. You can buy fried korokke to take home at butcher shops, order it at diners and restaurants, and buy it in pre-cooked food (Sozai) and bento section at supermarkets and convenience stores.

    Having tasted my mom’s homemade korokke, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat the ones from the stores or restaurants because they are made of mostly potatoes and the taste is rather bland. That’s why you have to make them yourself at home!

    Why You’ll Love This Korokke

    • More meat for extra flavor – My mother’s recipe includes more meat than most recipes or store-bought. Never too plain.
    • Crunchy shell on the outside, and slightly chunky, starchy texture on the inside.
    • Great for making ahead (meal prep) and easy to reheat!
    • Perfect for packing in bento (make mini sizes!)
    • Another delicious panko-breaded dish you can eat with your favorite Tonkatsu sauce.

    A white plate containing Korokke served with Tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage on the side.

    4 Key Ingredients to Make Korokke

    It’s important to get the right and quality ingredients especially for a simple recipe like this. Please read below carefully.

    1. Russet Potatoes

    In the US, the most common potatoes are Russet potatoes, red potatoes, and Yukon Gold potatoes. For making Korokke, the  Russet potatoes are the ideal choice since the starchy, fluffy, and light texture makes for the perfect bite. They are the best at soaking up the juice and flavor from the meat and onion.

    If you’re in Japan, there are “May Queen” (メークイン) and “Danshaku” (男爵) potatoes. The Korokke should be made with Danshaku, but my mom uses roughly 85-90% Danshaku and adds 10-15% May Queen because she likes to be different… She also believes that potatoes should be boiled with skin on, and then peeled with fingers while they are hot. Because it could possibly burn fingers, I excuse myself for not following her method 100%.

    2. High-Quality Ground Beef

    Typically, Japanese croquettes use ground beef but sometimes it can be made with ground pork. I usually use high-quality 85% lean ground beef for more flavor. The korokke sold from the butcher shops are delicious, and you know the reason – high-quality meat!

    You can use ground turkey or chicken, but I think the flavor could be a little lacking compared to beef.

    For those who want to make a vegan/vegetarian version, you can omit the meat completely. Instead, switch it with finely chopped shiitake mushrooms or other mushrooms you have. You can also add dense vegetables such as corn and carrot, which do not have much moisture, but you can also sautee them until the moisture is evaporated.

    3. Yellow Onion

    I use yellow onions whenever I caramelize or stir fry till golden. The amount of flavor and sweetness you’ll get from cooking those yellow onions, as opposed to other kinds, is significantly higher. The key is to stir fry until moisture is evaporated so the croquettes do not contain extra moisture. For a nice char, leave the chopped onion for a long stretch of time between stirring.

    4. Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

    Try finding Japanese brand breadcrumbs called Panko. The light, airy, larger flakes tend to stay crispier longer than standard breadcrumbs because they don’t absorb as much grease. See the brand I normally use in this post.

    A white plate containing Korokke served with Tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage on the side.

    Watch How to Make Japanese Croquettes (Korokke)

    Soft creamy potato with ground meat inside a crunchy panko shell, Japanese Croquettes (Korokke) is my absolute favorite Japanese food! This is my mother’s best recipe and I’m sharing her secrets with you.

    5 Important Tips for Making Korokke Patties

    Read these tips carefully before you start cooking!

    1. Boil the potatoes from water.

    Mom's Korokke (Potato & Meat Croquettes)-step by step-6

    I learned to boil root vegetables from water as a method to protect the shapes and textures. That means you add the potatoes and water in the pot at the same time, as opposed to adding them later to the boiling water.

    Due to the density of potatoes or any root vegetables for this matter, it takes a long time for the heat to reach the center. Therefore it’s best to start cooking them from water to prevent the skin or outer layer from disintegrating before the inside is cooked.

    2. Moisture is a big no-no!

    During the cooking process, it’s important to remember not to introduce moisture to the patties. There are 3 cooking steps in this recipe where you should remove excess moisture.

    Mom's Korokke (Potato & Meat Croquettes)-step by step-26
    1) Saute the chopped onion until golden brown and let the moisture evaporate.
    Mom's Korokke (Potato & Meat Croquettes)-step by step-49
    2) Avoid adding the cooking juice from the meat mixture when you mix it with mashed potatoes.
    Mom's Korokke (Potato & Meat Croquettes)-step by step-41
    3) After boiling potatoes and drain the water, shake the potatoes in the pot over low heat, letting the moisture evaporate completely. The potatoes should look powdery.

    3. Mash and season the potatoes while hot.

    Mom's Korokke (Potato & Meat Croquettes)-step by step-43

    While the potatoes are hot, mash and let the steam escape. My mom usually keeps some potato chunks unmashed to create texture. Season the potatoes and add the meat mixture while the potatoes are hot so that they will absorb all the flavor. Do not knead the mixture (you don’t want it mushy!); gently combine well together.

    4. Do not include the air.

    Mom's Korokke (Potato & Meat Croquettes)-step by step-57

    When you’re shaping the potato and meat mixture into an oval patty shape, try not to include air pockets.

    5. Let the patties cool completely before breading.

    Mom's Korokke (Potato & Meat Croquettes)-step by step-59

    This step is very important. Resting and cooling down the patties prevents the korokke from exploding while deep frying. The cold patties in the hot oil will not release any steam; therefore korokke will not explode in the oil. It also helps the ingredients to meld together.

    A white plate containing Japanese Croquette (Korokke) served with Tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage on the side.

    Helpful Tips for Deep Frying

    The best part of deep frying Korokke, besides how delicious it is, is that the inside gets cooked fully. You do not need to worry about undercooking. Which is why I believe Korokke is one of the easiest foods to practice deep frying.

    Mom's Korokke (Potato & Meat Croquettes)-step by step-74

    Here are my tips for deep frying Korokke.

    • Use enough oil to cover the croquettes completely.
    • Use a cooking thermometer to check the oil temperature (no guessing!). Once you are used to it, you can use the chopstick or panko tricks to determine the oil temperature.
    • Deep fry 2-3 pieces at a time. When you put too many pieces, the oil temperature will drop too quickly and the Korokke will absorb too much oil.
    • Once you add the Korokke in the oil, don’t touch until it turns golden brown on one side.

    A white plate containing Korokke served with Tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage on the side.

    How to Bake Korokke instead of Deep-Frying

    I knew you would ask if you can bake instead of deep-frying! I got you covered. I do have a recipe for Baked Croquette!

    Japanese baked croquette piping hot mashed potato mixed with juicy meat wrapped around a crispy panko shell, no deep frying required!

    How About Air Frying?

    I don’t own an air fryer; so I can’t share my own experience. However, the croquettes are already cooked inside and you can just air fry the outer Panko coating till golden brown.

    What to Serve with Japanese Croquettes

    Japanese croquettes are delicious as they are, but we typically drizzle Tonkatsu Sauce to enjoy them. The most popular Tonkatsu sauce is Bull-Dog Vegetable & Fruit Sauce (Tonkatsu Sauce).

    Bull-Dog Tonkatsu Sauce (Japanese Condiment)

    If you can’t get a Tonkatsu Sauce, you can certainly make one at home with this quick Homemade Tonkatsu Sauce recipe. Worcestershire sauce is the key, and it can’t be substituted.

    Deep-fried foods in Japan are commonly served with shredded cabbage as you see here. I also served with a few slices of tomatoes to add color, but it’s optional. You can serve salad dressing of your choice, like my homemade Sesame Dressing, or drizzle Tonkatsu sauce to enjoy.

    A white plate containing Korokke served with Tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage on the side.

    How to thinly shred cabbage like that? You can cut it thinly with a sharp knife or use this cabbage slicer. We eat a mountain of shredded cabbage as the slicer makes such thin slices that we feel like we can eat more and more!

    Make-Ahead and Leftover Korokke

    Korokke can be made ahead of time as they reheat so well. I usually double the recipe and deep fry all the Korokke. Whatever we did not finish eating goes to the freezer. With the leftover Korokke, I make:

    Itadakimasu!

    I never get tired of my mom’s croquettes, and I always request her to make for us on our first and last day during our stay at her house. It became a sort of tradition. I hope you enjoy making her Korroke recipe.

    A white plate containing Japanese Croquette (Korokke) served with Tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage on the side.

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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    4.85 from 19 votes
    A white plate containing Japanese Croquette (Korokke) served with Tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage on the side.
    Japanese Croquettes (Mom's Korokke)
    Prep Time
    30 mins
    Cook Time
    1 hr
    Chill Time
    15 mins
    Total Time
    1 hr 45 mins
     

    Soft creamy potato with ground meat inside a tasty crunchy shell, Japanese Croquettes or Korokke is my favorite Japanese food. This is my mother’s recipe.

    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: croquette, korokke
    Servings: 16 Croquettes
    Author: Namiko Chen
    Ingredients
    For Potato and Meat Mixture
    • 2 lb russet potatoes (900 g, about 4 potatoes; please use Russet potatoes)
    • 1 onion (9.6 oz, 272 g)
    • 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
    • 1 lb ground beef (454 g; 85% lean)
    • ½ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt) (for meat)
    • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper (for meat)
    • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (for potato)
    • ½ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt) (for potatoes)
    • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper (for potatoes)
    For Panko Coating
    For Deep Frying
    • 4 cups neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc) (946 ml; for deep frying)
    To Serve
    Instructions
    1. Gather all the ingredients.

      Mom's Korokke Ingredients
    To Make Potato and Meat Mixture
    1. Wash the potatoes under cold running water. Peel the potatoes with a vegetable peeler and remove the eyes.

      Mom's Korokke 1
    2. Cut each potato into equal 4 pieces. Tip: To cook evenly, it's important that they are in a similar size.

      Mom's Korokke 2
    3. In a large pot, put water and potatoes and bring it to a boil covered on medium heat, leaving the lid slightly ajar to prevent from boiling over. It will take about 15 minutes to a boil. Cook potatoes until a skewer goes through the potato easily, about 15-20 minutes.

      Mom's Korokke 3
    4. Meanwhile (you have about 30 minutes till the potatoes are ready), chop the onion finely. With the knife tip pointing toward the root, slice the onion to within ½ inch of the base. Make about ¼ inch parallel cuts. Then slice the onion horizontally about ¼ inch parallel cuts.

      Mom's Korokke 4
    5. Then cut perpendicular to the first slices you made. If the onions need to be chopped finer, you can run your knife through them in a rocking motion. Be sure to hold down the tip of the knife; otherwise, the onions are going to go flying around the room.

      Mom's Korokke 5
    6. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium heat and add the chopped onion.

      Mom's Korokke 6
    7. Saute the onion until translucent and tender, about 10 minutes. Tip: It's important to remove moisture from the onion so that croquette mixture won't be soggy. To cook faster and give nice char, leave the chopped onion for a long stretch of time between stirring so the onion has direct heat contact.

      Mom's Korokke 7
    8. Add the meat and break it up with a wooden spoon.

      Mom's Korokke 8
    9. Season the mixture with salt and black pepper.

      Mom's Korokke 9
    10. Stir to combine, turn off the heat when the meat is no longer pink. Remove from heat to let cool slightly.

      Mom's Korokke 10
    11. Once in a while, you have to check if the potatoes are done cooking. Insert a skewer to a bigger piece of the potatoes and if it goes through the potato easily, it's done. Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain the water completely. When you do so, use a lid to cover so the potatoes don’t fall out from the pot.

      Mom's Korokke 11
    12. Move the pot back to the stove. Shake the pot over low heat and let the remaining moisture completely evaporate (but don’t burn the potatoes), about 2-3 minutes. Then transfer to a large bowl.

      Mom's Korokke 12
    13. With a potato masher, mash the potatoes while they are still hot and let the steam escape. Add the butter. Tip: keeps some potato chunks unmashed to create a texture.

      Mom's Korokke 13
    14. Add salt and pepper and combine well together.

      Mom's Korokke 14
    15. To avoid adding excess cooking liquid from the meat mixture to the mashed potatoes, gently squeeze the liquid out from the mixture by collecting it to one side of the pan.

      Mom's Korokke 15
    16. Add the meat mixture into the mashed potatoes in the bowl and combine together.

      Mom's Korokke 16
    17. While the mixture is still warm, but not hot, start making the patties (traditionally, oval shape, roughly 3-inch in length), without including air pockets.

      Mom's Korokke 17
    18. Cover and let the Korokke patties rest in the fridge for 15-30 minutes (Do not skip!). TIP: Resting and cooling down the patties prevents the croquettes from exploding while deep frying. The cold patties in the hot oil will not release any steam; therefore, croquettes will not explode in the oil. If you skip this process and the patties are still warm, the temperature of the patties will go up and start to steam, which will then puncture a hole in the panko coating and explode. It also helps the ingredients to meld together.

      Mom's Korokke 18
    19. Prepare a tray for each flour and panko and crack eggs into a small bowl.

      Mom's Korokke 19
    20. Coat each patty in flour and shake off excess.

      Mom's Korokke 20
    21. Then dredge in egg and coat with panko.

      Mom's Korokke 20-2
    22. Once you finish coating the patties, add the oil a medium pot. Make sure the oil is at least 2 inches in the pot so the entire croquette will be covered.

      Mom's Korokke 21
    23. Bring the oil to 340-350 ºF (171-178 ºC) over medium heat. Use a cooking thermometer to check the oil temperature (no guessing!). Once you are used to it, you can use the chopstick or panko tricks to determine the oil temperature.

      Mom's Korokke 22
    24. Deep fry 2-3 croquettes at a time until they are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Tip: Do not touch the croquettes until one side is golden brown. The inside is already cooked, so all you need to do is to fry until golden brown!

      Mom's Korokke 23
    25. Transfer the croquettes to a wire rack or paper towel to drain excess oil.

      Mom's Korokke 24
    To Serve
    1. Serve the croquettes with Tonkatsu sauce (my homemade recipe). Typically, deep-fried foods are served with shredded cabbage in Japan.

      Mom's Korokke 25
    To Store
    1. You can store the leftover in an airtight container and freeze up to a month. To reheat, put the defrosted or frozen croquettes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Bake at 350 ºF (180 ºC) for 15-20 minutes for defrosted ones or 45 minutes for frozen ones. Check if the inside is warm before serving.

    Recipe Notes

    Tonkatsu Sauce: Homemade recipe, click here.

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

    Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 26, 2012. The post has been updated with a video, new images, and content in July 2020.

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