Time for yet another tempting seafood appetizer. If you missed my Two-Bite Salmon en Croute with Figs and Caramelized Onion post, I’m working on creating appetizers using Alaska Seafood based on the flavors of the Grilled Salmon with Fig and Caramelized Onion Sauce I made last summer. The resulting bites will be available for tasting at this year’s Foodbuzz Festival.
My goal was to make this second bite as different from the first as possible. I played around with a lot of ideas in my head (including the fantastic suggestion of Duo Dishes to do a curried fish with a fig and onion chutney), but eventually I fell in love with the idea of making some croquettes.
If you’ve never had one before, a croquette (also called a croqueta) is essentially a fried roll, disk, or ball with minced meat, seafood, or potatoes as its main ingredient. They are one of my favorite things to order when I’m going out for Spanish tapas (A local restaurant called Cafe Ba Ba Reeba makes some amazing chicken and ham croquetas that I love.). I loved the idea of making them because they are oh so crispy on the outside, warm, and indulgent, exactly what I think a good holiday appetizer should be. Like my Two-Bite Salmon en Croute with Figs and Caramelized Onion it also makes for pretty filling, substantial bites so it’s perfect for parties where you intend for an assortment of appetizers to be your dinner for your guests.
My version involves poached, flaked Alaskan halibut with mashed yukon gold potatoes and caramelized onions.
The result is a croquette that is extra moist, slightly creamy and quite flavorful. And when you roll it in panko bread crumbs…
and bake or fry it you get a perfect outer crunch to contrast the interior.
So what happened to the figs from the original dish? I incorporated them into a Fig Dijonnaise, perfect for serving on the side or dolloping on top. It has a delicious sweetness that pairs perfectly with the caramelized onions and a bit of lemon juice that adds brightness to the dish. Overall I was very pleased with how this dish turned out. I poached the fish using a cook it frozen technique and made the potatoes fresh, but you could always make this even easier by using leftover fish and mashed potatoes. Just make sure that you keep the flavors of the fish and potatoes neutral and that you don’t overcook them so the inside of the croquettes are tender and moist.
Halibut and Caramelized Onion Croquettes with Fig Dijonnaise
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-2 cups sliced sweet onions
-2 cups peeled and cubed yukon gold potatoes (about 3 small potatoes)
-1/4 cup heavy cream
-2 tablespoons butter
-1 pound frozen halibut
-1/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
-1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
-1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon chopped flat leaf parsley
-1 egg, beaten
-1 teaspoon dijon mustard
-1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
-1 cup mayonnaise
-10 mission figs, rehydrated in boiling water and drained
-1 tablespoon dijon mustard
-1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
-Vegetable oil, if you choose to fry your croquettes
Swirl olive oil in bottom of medium nonstick skillet. Add onions and sprinkle in salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
Remove cover and cook, stirring often, until onions are caramel in color, 30 minutes to an hour.
While onions are cooking, place the cubed potatoes in a dutch oven or medium sauce pan. Add water until potatoes are covered. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes, or until done – a fork can easily be poked through them.
Warm cream and melt butter, together, either in microwave or in a pan on the stove. Drain water from potatoes. Put hot potatoes into a large bowl. Add cream and melted butter. Use potato masher to mash potatoes until well mashed. Set aside.
Rinse out dutch oven or medium sauce pan and fill half full with water (you will want enough to cover the fish) and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Rinse your fish under cold water to remove any ice glaze.
Once water has come to a simmer, turn off the heat and add the halibut fillets. Return heat to a simmer. You’re looking for your liquid to simmer, not boil. Simmer the halibut, covered, for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it remain covered in the pan for another 4-5 minutes or until the seafood is opaque throughout. Since you’ll be cooking the croquettes it’s important not to overcook the fish so the croquettes have a moist interior. Flake fish and add to the mashed potatoes along with the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, parsley, egg, djion mustard, 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs, and caramelized onions. Gently fold the mixture until well combined, being careful not to break the fish up too much.
Using a cookie scoop or your hands, roll the mixture into 24 balls, rolling each in the remaining panko bread crumbs before setting on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Set aside.
To make the Fig Dijonaise, add the mayonnaise through lemon juice to a food processor and process until smooth and well combined.
To cook the croquettes you have two options. Either bake them at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Or you may fry the croquettes. To do so, pour enough vegetable oil into a heavy-bottomed skillet to reach a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat the oil over medium heat, and fry the croquettes a few at a time, turning, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and salt to taste. Repeat with the remaining croquettes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm with the Fig Dijonnaise.