Croquetas – Tapas of the week

Croquettas, Tapas

Now this is much much more like it! Enough of all those strange-looking seafood tapas, give me a good old croqueta any day! Croquetas are made of a thick bechamel usually containing flecks of serrano ham (though chicken, fish and meat croquetas are also common), coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. They are a meal in themselves (if you eat enough of them of course), and though they are rarely handed over for free with drinks, a plate of half a dozen will cost around 7 to 10 euros in restaurants and bars.

Like many Spanish dishes, the croqueta was born out of necessity, when Spain was suffering one of many periods of hunger and resourceful cooks had to invent good food from very basic raw materials. So, here we have flour, milk, breadcrumbs, scraps of ham, and little else, all put together to wonderful effect. Stuck on a desert island with only one choice of Spanish tapas, the Croqueta would get my vote every time… which tapas would you pick?

24 thoughts on “Croquetas – Tapas of the week

  1. rod

    Mmm, delicious but ‘croquettas are made of a thick bechamel… coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried.’ Put like that, croquettas don’t sound too healthy – I think I preferred them arriving on my plate without thinking too much about how they were made. Where are the fishy vitamins? πŸ™‚

  2. Pepino (Dave Hall)

    I love croquettas. I had a big surtido de tapas on Saturday in a Catalan restaurant near Plaza Olles here in Barcelona on Saturday afternoon, and was pleased to see that they were included. You’re right Ben that they are incredibly filling, so nobody should be fooled by their size!

    My “new” favourite tapa is one that I never thought I would like. My friend ordered anchovies in a tangy sauce (not sure what it was exactly, but he said it’s something his mum makes a lot back in his home town, so I’ll have to ask him for more details) and insisted that I tried it, despite the fact that I’m not a big fan of seafoods (plain old cod and chips is fine of course! jeje). Anway, they were gorgeous, and I ended up scoffing the lot down.

    My absolute favourite though is just a plain and simple plate of mixed Spanish hams along with some olives.

    Hmmmmm. I love food. Why I don’t weigh about 200kgs, I have no idea! πŸ™‚

  3. ValenciaSon

    Enjoy that youthful metabolism while you can, Pepino! Meanwhile, pass the croquetas! πŸ˜‰

  4. Pepino (Dave Hall)

    Hmmm, I wonder! πŸ™‚

    My family are all skinny streaks of p…, so I hope I’m on fairly safe ground genetically speaking to carry on enjoying Spanish tapas. Mind you, I often joke that I’ll probably continue to be one of these people who can eat and eat without getting fat, but only for so long, and then I’ll wake up one morning in the not-too-distant future, look down and see that something horrific has suddenly happened! jeje.

    In the meantime though, like you say, pass the croquettas! πŸ™‚

    PS. Do you have much opportunity to go out and have tapas where you live? What’s your favourite?

  5. rod

    My favourites tapas are the simple ones: a plate of jamon de Jabugo (preferably very thinly sliced); a place of cheese; and espinacas con garbanzos (spinach with chick peas).:)

  6. luke

    Croquettas are great but so many cafes heat up shop croquettas so unless I know they are freshly made I prefer something else.

  7. Steve W

    I had some huge ones once, in Vitoria. The size of one and a half tennis balls and with a high cod to sauce ratio. Delicious.

    My favourite tapa could be boquerones (anchovies in vinager with a few olives) if they are good quality. Or Tortilla from the north where they cook it so that the middle is nice and runny. Yum.

  8. Kim H.

    When we were in Madrid last June, we ventured to a vegetarian restaurant, El Granero de Lavapies, and enjoyed some mushroom croquettas….yum! Thanks to Ben and Marina for talking about the place on NFS. The food was wonderful and it was well worth the trek to find it!

  9. Pepino (Dave Hall)

    “Boquerones”! That’ll be the anchovy thing I was going on about earlier I reckon. It was a bit of a vinegary yellow liquid on them. Cheers Steve! πŸ™‚

  10. Edith

    Oh Ben, stop it, stop it, stop it please, I’m on a diet! πŸ˜€

    I could live on croquetas, they are so delicious! I have eaten gamba croquetas once, although I don’t remember where exactly. They were yummy too.

  11. ValenciaSon

    I treat myself to tapas about 2-3 times a year as they run a little bit more expensive in my neck of the woods. I go to a restaurant called Jaleo, which has a huge tapas menu, to include croquetas and plenty of”strange-looking seafood tapas”. The restaurant is managed by Jose Andres, the same guy with a cooking show on TVE. I went there 3 weeks ago and had plenty of tapas and cava to wash it down with. I brought some friends who never sampled Spanish cuisine and were expecting mexican cuisine. So many Americans think Spain=Mexico because both countries speak Spanish, very frustrating!. Anyway, they loved the tapas and were amazed at the variety and the refined preparation and FLAVORS! They loved Jaleo and all I could think was “this is just a small splinter of what Spain has to offer”. My favorite is really any of the embutidos and fresh made croquetas con jamon serrano and ensaladilla rusa and…

  12. Graeme

    Patatas bravas – if they are freshly made and they get the sauce right.
    Pulpo a la Gallega
    Morcilla – especially if it’s from Leon

    oh, and it’s still only 8 a.m.

  13. Alison

    Think my hubbie would love these, another thing to coax him to move to Spain with one day (along with the sun) – it’s my dream not his really so anything to get his interest about the place is good πŸ™‚

  14. Gary

    Pepino

    If you like croquetas try musculos de cangrejo – crabs muscles – they are like a fishcake with a crab claw stuck in the side

    Bar de Pi does excellent anchovies – three rolled up round an olive on a mini skewer – bandillera de boquerones.

    If you enjoyed them try the tiny deep fried whole fish – I took some persuading the first time but they are deleicous – chipirones I think.

  15. Ben Post author

    My fault maybe as I spelt it with 2 t’s in the original post, then changed it after I saw your correct spelling! Croquetas con cabrales sound like my idea of heaven!

  16. Edith

    Oh yeah! Together with a big glass of strong Rioja to tickle those taste buds! My local ‘kaasboer’ (delicatessen specializing in cheese) sells cabrales. It reminds me a bit of Stilton.

    Here is some mouth-watering Wikipedia stuff about croquetas – croquettes – kroketjes in several European countries:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croquette

    Now I know where I have eaten the shrimp thingies: in Holland, and not in Spain. But perhaps they have got them in Spain, too? I’m sure they would go down very well with an aioli dip.

    P.s.: I guessed it had to be ‘croquetas’ because double consonants are hardly ever used in Spanish.

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  20. Rigoberto

    Croquetas rule. I’m Cuban, and we eat these all the time at my house here in the States. Croquetas, Tortillas, Paella..we Cubans tend to have a lot of Spanish cuisine in our cook books!

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