These fluffy and yet crunchy fish and potato croquettes were fun to make with the kids. I was SOOOO much more comfortable with the making process of these little crispy delights than the last time I had Verity in the kitchen to crumb fish with me. She was only a toddler at the time and she was following directions really well along with her older sister. We were laughing our way through over half the batch when we started to get low on breadcrumbs in the dipping dish. I thought I would just turn grab some extra breadcrumbs for the bowl. They were a mere arms length away from me on the adjacent bench. No biggie right? Well, actually, yeah 1.5 seconds gap in supervision is a biggie for a toddler who is hell-bent on getting a laugh out of every person she meets. Without hesitation she makes her move. The next thing I knew my oldest was in hysterics. Verity was half way through licking the raw fish fillet from one end to the other. Full flat tongue licking. Eggy-breadcrumby fingers were getting in on the action too. I am all for embracing mess with kids and food, but I am still a food safety nerd at heart.
So, when I decided to bring her back into the kitchen to do some crumbing with me this time, there were a couple of tweaks to my plans.
Tweak One: Remove Rawness and Be Prepared
I pre-boiled the potatoes and steamed the fish. I let it cool before Miss Mix-A-Lot got her hands in on the action. I had the egg whisked. I had the breadcrumbs IN FRONT of me. I had her opt-out washer next to her (in case the mixing got a bit much and I wanted her to calmly wipe her hands rather than running through the house like a crazy octopus with fish-mix smeared hands). Set-up is key with my wild child at the helm.
Tweak Two: Being Ingredient Savvy
Fish and potato croquettes allow you to get a bit more flexible with ingredients than simply crumbing fish fillets. And because I only had one fillet of fish available, I was interested in testing an hypothesis. Can I really feed 4 people with only one fish fillet? Yes, yes I can. I also wanted to use this meal as an opportunity to bridge the “deconstructed salad” to “mixed salad” divide that can start to happen when you follow DOR (Division of Responsibility) and serve a few weeks in a row of deconstructed salad meals from the middle of the table for everyone to pick and choose (GUILTY!) Having opportunities for mixed together foods is also important to keep nurturing a child’s movement towards mixed family foods (if that is a goal). So, we had lettuce cups and a trio of sauces available for us to wrap our fish and potato croquettes in. This also helps as Verity is starting to enjoy lettuce when she can wrap things in it.
Lettuce is often a slow win for some kids because it is so floppy. From an oral motor point of view and motor planning perspective it is DIFFICULT. Or in toddler speak, lettuce may pose the following questions: “How do I even get it into my mouth?” or “Why won’t it stay on my fork? It keeps springing off and then turns to mush when man handled too much.” or “When I finally get it in my mouth why does it flop around?” and “Where is the flavour? why is it different to last time?”
Ingredient swap ideas (for your dietary needs):
To make vegetarian croquettes, you can substitute the fish with 1/2 a cup of corn kernels, mashed sweet potato or mashed chickpeas. I love the way Stacey from The Veggie Mama uses cannellinni beans for texture in these fried vegetarian fish cakes.
If you would like to make them creamier, Adding 2-3 tablespoons of ricotta to the potato mix would make them more creamier. For more savoury ricotta recipe inspiration, have a look at this recipe of mine for zucchini and ricotta bites.
To make a delicious vegan “mock” fish cake – you could try this recipe for thai style croquettes by Shari at GoodFoodWeek
- 1 cup of panko crumbs (1/2 for the mixture, ½ for coating) - Keep extra on hand for coating, just in case 🙂
- 3 medium sized potatoes that aren't too waxy (I used Nadine potatoes)
- 1 fillet of fish
- ⅓ cup of grated cheddar cheese
- 2 eggs (1 for the mixture, 1 for the coating step)
- 1-2 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- Pinch of Salt
- Pinch of Black Pepper
- In a pot and steamer set, start boiling the potatoes. After 10 minutes add the steamer basket and fillet of fish.
- Allow these to cool. Pass the potato through a potato ricer or mash.
- Flake in the fish with your fingers.
- Add one egg, ½ cup panko crumbs, cheddar cheese, mixed herbs, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Roll the mixture into golf-ball sized croquettes (you should get about 10) and line them up on a plate. (You can do up to this step in advance and keep the rolled croquettes in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 24 hrs.)
- Pre-heat your oven to 180oC and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Set-up your coating bowls by whisking the other egg into a dish, adding the other ½ cup of panko crumbs to another small ball and preparing the opt-out washer (with or without water depending on your child's sensory preference).
- Dip each croquette into the egg and then into the panko crumbs to coat it fully.
- Put the croquettes onto the tray with 2-finger-width inbetween them to avoid sticking.
- Once all croquettes are crumbed, put in the oven for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden.
I hope you enjoy making these with your kids! And if you do make them, tag me in a picture over on Instagram @playwithfood_au