Posted on Thursday, 17ᵗʰ June, 2021
Once considered little more than cost-effective finger foods, croquettes and fritters are fast becoming quite the trend and the basis for innovative starters and sides on menus across the country.
There are several reasons these deep-fried favourites could be a winning addition to your menu:
- Croquettes are a quick and easy way to add interest and excitement and crunch to your dishes.
- Being able to easily incorporate a wide range of vegetables and legumes into croquettes and fritters is a great way for chefs to meet the trend for healthier eating.
- Croquettes and fritters are great as both finger foods, starters and as part of your main meal offering and can be pretty much anything you want them to be. Only your creativity is the limit.
- These tasty tempters are ideal for making use of leftovers and reducing food waste.
Let’s look at five ways chefs and their kitchens are getting the most out of these versatile foods.
Croquettes and fritters are being used as a canvas to express the world’s cuisines, with no boundaries around ingredients, sauces or toppings.
The Spaniards fill theirs with salted cod while the Japanese roll together seafood, potato and chopped meats. Over in Holland, prosciutto is a key ingredient while the Poles combine cabbage, sauerkraut and veggies into delicious pan-fried golden goodies.
Perth’s Belgian Beer Café does a continental European turn on its croquettes, which feature smoked ham hock and cheese, complemented with an apple mayonnaise and pickled onion.
Japanese restaurant Hiroya, located in Sydney’s Darlinghurst, dishes up a simple creamy crab croquette with potato and crab meat, while popular Potts Point Asian restaurant Bang Tang offers its tuna bomb dish—a pair of golden tuna croquettes laced with a spicy mayonnaise.
Meanwhile, West Auckland café Bodega Eatery puts a tapas spin on its croquettes, which include chicken, Serrano ham and gorgonzola sauce.
Sydney CBD café The Walrus, infuses its sweet corn and quinoa fritter dish with an African and Middle Eastern flavour that includes a Fattoush salad, avocado, feta and poached eggs covered in dukkah spice.
Croquettes and fritters can effortlessly bring flavour and excitement to a wide variety of vegetables, allowing chefs to create healthy options loaded with goodness and taste. With customer preferences moving further towards plant-based foods and more wholesome diets, including a vegetarian fritter or croquette on your menu is a smart move.
As part of its rustic Italian dinner menu, Manly café Belgrave Cartel does a vegetarian potato and mild provolone cheese-filled croquette served with sriracha mayonnaise and parmesan cheese.
Canberra’s popular Cupping Room café dresses up its cabbage, leek and potato fritters with pickled jalapeño, pecorino cheese, fried egg and a coriander and lime aioli.
No meal of the day is immune from the newfound popularity of croquettes and fritters, including breakfast.
In many ways, it’s not surprising. Breakfast is the most casual of the three main meals in the typical Western diet, so it’s understandable finger foods would find a place on brekky menus. Add that to the fact our busy schedules mean that breakfast is often eaten on the go, and it’s no wonder chefs are finding new ways to combine convenience with good taste.
But how do you base a breakfast dish around a croquette or fritter? Quite simply, you get creative!
South Melbourne café Ada Grace employs its potato, leek and cheese croquettes as the centrepiece of an all-day main meal that also includes smoked bacon, a poached egg and capsicum with a caper salsa.
Brisbane coffee joint Brew does a dish of corn and zucchini fritters with bacon and poached eggs on a bed of pea pesto, sautéed heirloom tomatoes, ricotta and chives.
Café Rubix, located in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Box Hill, serves deep fried pumpkin, corn and coriander fritters alongside a smashed avo and poached eggs accompanied by fresh tomato salsa and a fire-roasted capsicum sauce.
For a variety of reasons mainly linked to changes in the way we live, traditional mealtimes are giving way to a less regimented eating schedule.
For casual dining venues, the implication is clear: diners are becoming accustomed to regular, snack-sized meals in preference to large traditional dishes. Chefs are covering both bases by offering smaller serves that meet the needs of snackers, alongside traditional full-sized dishes.
The takeaway menu at Australian and New Zealand pub chain The Bavarian includes simple and hearty mac and cheese croquettes topped with a blue cheese mayonnaise and bacon.
Customers of Fifth Chapter in Melbourne suburb Bentleigh are spoiled for choice when it comes to deep-fried snacks, with the venue offering zucchini croquettes with goat’s cheese as an entree dish and all-day charred corn and tomato salsa fritters with smoked salmon and poached eggs.
Even though croquettes and fritters made their names as staples of the catering scene, it doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a high-end makeover.
In fact, it was celebrity chef Bill Granger who was credited with bringing a sophisticated edge to these deep-fried delicacies via his all-day, classic sweet corn fritter with avocado salsa dish, developed for his original Darlinghurst restaurant, Bill’s. Now, it seems anything goes and there are no limits on upmarket ingredients.
For example, Nelson’s picturesque Boat Shed Café serves goat’s cheese and honey croquettes as a snack-sized entree. Highly rated Adelaide restaurant Orso does a potato croquette entree that features taleggio cheese and Calabrese chilli.
Vegan restaurant Shakahari, located in the central Melbourne suburb of Carlton, offers a gluten-free main meal of quinoa croquettes that comprise steamed yam and potato, black quinoa, turnip, nuts and diced veggies, served with a mild wasabi sauce and a side of steamed greens.
Chefs are always looking for imaginative ways to invigorate their menus, and this extends to on-trend starters and sides. Croquettes and fritters are a great vehicle for experimentation and creative expression, offer incredible flexibility and are finding increasing relevance on the menus of a growing number of venues.