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Tapas In Madrid

On our visit to Spain, the first thing my husband and I did was to locate a good Tapas place near our hotel in Madrid. We were directed to a well-known local hang out, famous for its authentic non-touristy fare. We sat in the out door patio which was packed with people nibbling on various interesting looking tapas. Never having had tapas before, we weren’t quite sure what to order, especially as the English menu was a bit sketchy on details. Nearly everyone at the tables around us had plates of delicious looking croquettes in front of them so we decided to try some too. We pointed, smiled and gestured our way through the ordering in our broken Spanish and ended up with a platter of assorted croquettes or croquetas as they were called. They were like no other croquette I have ever had. Crisp and crunchy on the outside but gooey and soft on the inside, they were simply addictive! Each croqueta seemed to be different – a taste adventure waiting to be savored. Some were filled with Iberian ham, some with shrimp, and even some with mussels. They were all delicious, but my absolute favorites were the cod ones and we ate them at every opportunity during our stay in Spain.

The croquettes in my recipe are chock full of fresh cod and a hint of spice. They carry a taste of pakoras in their flavor and combine the best of both worlds!

Cod Pakora Croqueta

The secret to achieving that signature crisp crunchy shell is to double dip the croqueta in breadcrumbs. Roll them around in the breadcrumbs first then dip them lightly in beaten egg and finally one more quick roll around in the breadcrumbs. This really crisps them up.

1 lb fresh cod fillets

4 tbsp vegetable oil, divided

2 tbsp butter

4 tbsp all purpose flour

1 ½ cups milk

Salt to taste

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp curry powder

¼ cup chopped fresh coriander leaves

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tsp minced or grated ginger

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup bread crumbs

oil for frying croquettes

Bring 3 cups of water to boil in large saucepan set over high heat. Add cod and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to medium and cook cod for 4 - 5 mins or until fish is flaky and falling apart. Drain, pat dry with paper towels and transfer to a bowl. Flake fish lightly with a fork and reserve.

Warm 2 tbsp oil and the butter in a non-stick frying pan set over medium heat. Add flour and stir gently for about a minute. Add milk and stir continuously until mixture is smooth. Cook for 7 - 8 mins or until mixture is very thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, curry powder, fresh coriander and reserved cod.

Warm remaining 2 tbsp oil in deep non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, onions and ginger, sauté for 5 minutes until onions are slightly softened. Add to cod mixture in frying pan.  Transfer mixture to a deep mixing bowl and mix everything well with your hands. Using dampened hands, shape into small cylindrical croquettes, about 2 inches long and an inch thick. You should have about 14-16 croquettes.

Place beaten egg and breadcrumbs in two shallow bowls. Roll croquettes in breadcrumbs, then dip in egg and then roll lightly in breadcrumbs again. Repeat similarly with remaining croquettes.

Heat 1 inch of oil in a frying pan set over medium heat. Fry croquettes in batches until they are golden brown on all sides, about 4 mins. Drain on paper towels and serve with chutney.

Makes 14-16 croquetas