The deep flavour of hot-smoked Arbroath Smokies or cold-smoked haddock are terrific in a smooth, thick bechamel sauce and deep-fried into crunchy croquetas. They can be prepared ahead and then just fried for a couple of minutes before serving.
Servings: 16-20 croquetas, depending on size
1 Arbroath Smokie
2 tbsp olive oil
70g unsalted butter
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
200g plain flour
600ml whole milk, gently warmed
1 tbsp finely chopped dill or freshly grated horseradish
2 eggs, beaten
150 panko breadcrumbs
1l olive oil
Flake the flesh away from the Arboath Smokie skin and skeleton, taking care to watch for small bones. There should be approx 200g meat. Set that aside.
Heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chopped shallot and cook until softened but not coloured. Over a low heat add 100g of the plain flour and stir for 3 mins (keep the rest of the flour for frying the croquetas). Slowly add the milk, stirring after every addition so that it is well incorporated. Season. Cook this béchamel gently for 15-20 mins, stirring all the time. It is done when the sauce is thick enough to come away from the sides of the pan.
Stir the flaked fish into the béchamel along with the dill or horseradish. Pour it all into a shallow dish, sit a piece of cling film directly on its surface, and then leave to cool. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Prepare to roll the croquetas by putting the other 100g of flour, the beaten eggs and the panko breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls. Flour your hands and tear off golf-ball size pieces of the croqueta mixture. Shape into rounds or sausage-shapes. One at a time, roll each in the flour, egg and then the breadcrumbs. Gently press the breadcrumbs onto the surface. The croquetas are now ready to deep-fry or can be chilled for several hours until needed.
When you want to eat them: Heat the litre of olive oil in a medium saucepan to 180C (or when a small piece of bread dropped in sizzles and browns). Use a slotted spoon to carefully life each croqueta into the hot oil in batches of 3 or 4. Cook for a couple of minutes until golden brown then lift out with the slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve straight away. Repeat for the rest of the croquetas, straining the oil as needed to remove any breadcrumbs.
For the smoked haddock alternative:replace the Arbroath Smokie with 200g of smoked haddock. Poach it in the 600ml milk for 8-10 mins until it can be flaked. Then set aside and continue with the rest of the recipe.