Rick Stein's Prawn Croquetas

Rick Stein's authentic recipe for prawn croquetas is a failsafe way to make this Spanish-inspired tapas favourite, as seen on his BBC2 series, Secret France.

Rick Stein’s Secret France
A culinary journey across France with Rick Stein
All of your favourite recipes from the BBC series
Secret French recipes alongside authentic classics

Introduction

There’s a large, very good fish shop on the quayside at Port-Vendres, which is between Collioure and Banyuls in the Languedoc-Roussillon. It used to be a thriving fishing port, but sadly because of overfishing there’s now only one full-time trawler working there. It’s run by Gabriel Diaz who goes out fishing every day and returns at 4pm to where his Spanish wife Maria José runs a little stall right by the water. She literally sells the fish to the public as Gabriel brings it in off the boat. The poissonnerie across the harbour still manages to stock a magnificent selection of fish and shellfish by buying from boats fishing in the Atlantic. The owner said to me that people come to places like Port-Vendres and expect red mullet, bass, dentex, John Dory, octopus and even things like those spiky sea snails called murex, so there’s still plenty of business, even if it’s not local. Upstairs they have a simple seafood bar where they sell things like grilled sardines, squid, fruits de mer and a few Catalan specialties, including prawn croquetas. I was particularly fond of these and what I liked was that they were really stuffed with good-quality prawns. I would suggest using the small North Atlantic peeled prawns, which are caught around Greenland.

Makes 24, serves 8 as tapas

Ingredients

85g butter
115g plain flour, plus extra for shaping
350ml whole milk
150ml double cream
250g small, North Atlantic cooked peeled prawns, chopped (defrosted and drained if frozen)
salt and black pepper
For coating and cooking:
700ml vegetable or sunflower oil
75g plain flour 2 eggs, beaten
175g panko breadcrumbs

Instructions

Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the flour and cook for a minute or so. Gradually add the milk and cream, whisking well all the time to ensure there are no lumps. Increase the heat slightly and bring the sauce to the boil. Turn the heat down and cook the sauce gently for 5 minutes, stirring often, by which time it should have thickened.

Stir in the chopped prawns, then season with a teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Spread this mixture out in a baking tray, cover the surface with a sheet of cling film or baking parchment and leave to cool. Then put the mixture in the fridge for 2 hours to firm up.

Heat the oil in a wide pan to 185°C. Put the 75g of flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in 3 separate wide bowls. Using 2 dessertspoons, scoop out 8 lozenges of the mixture, each weighing about 20g, and drop them into the flour. Mould them with your hands into rough cork shapes and pass them into the beaten egg, then finally the breadcrumbs. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Lower 8 croquetas at a time into the hot oil and fry them for 2 minutes until they’re crisp and lightly golden. Drain on kitchen paper and keep them warm while you cook the rest. Serve hot with drinks.

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