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Perfectly-crunchy “non-fry” croquette (korokke) using Japanese pumpkin, kabocha – healthy, delicious and super easy to make!


You must be thinking I’m on some kind of a fried food quest here, making cutlet, croquette then yet another kind of croquette! Well, actually, this is what happens when I make a dish: I find something that I want to improve or change and keep making different variations… The only thing is, I have only two stomachs (my husband’s and mine) at my disposal and no food goes to waste at my home (not even dishes that didn’t turn out too well!), which makes this recipe development process quite challenging. But I do enjoy it, fine-tuning and “perfecting” one particular dish.

Anyways, so what did I want to improve so much about these “fried food” friends? I wanted to make “fried” Japanese dishes healthier (by using minimum oil) and also quick & easy to make (by simplifying the whole process and using minimum ingredients). Each time I made some improvement, and this time, I think I got really really close to super quick & easy “non-fry” dish that has the perfect cruchiness and airiness.

For the korokke I made last time, I used white potatoes, which is the most common and popular type of croquette in Japan. Today, I’m making korokke using Japanese kabocha pumpkin. This dish is somewhere in between sweet and savory since the kabocha pumpkin itself is so sweet. (More information on kabocha pumpkin can be found here.)

What you need:

  • Kabocha pumpkin…1/8 of whole or about 250g
  • Onion…1/2 of medium sized
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt
  • Barley miso (mugi miso)…1 tbsp
  • Roasted walnuts (unsalted) (roughly chopped)…3 tbsp
  • Wheat flour, rice flour or starch
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Spray olive oil

First, steam kabocha pumpkin in microwave on high for about 5 min or until tender. Mash with a masher or a method of your choice.

Finely dice onion and microwave on high for about 2 min with some coconut oil and salt. If you don’t have coconut oil, you could use olive oil, but I highly recommend coconut oil here because of the great flavor it gives to the kabocha pumpkin. Add to mashed kabocha pumpkin and stir.

Add walnuts and stir. Make sure you don’t chop up the walnuts too finely as they are what makes the mixture “chunky.”

Add barley miso (麦みそ or mugi miso) and stir. Mugi miso is a type of miso that is made from koji mold that is cultured in barley rather than in rice like the regular type of miso. So both mugi miso and regular miso are made with soy beans, but the type of koji mold is different. Mugi miso tends to be sweeter and less salty than regular miso so if you are using regular miso for this recipe, use less quantity.

Form the mixture into size and shape of your choice. Today, I’m making a small cylinder shape, which is what we call in Japan “tawaragata” (俵型 or tawara shape). Tawara is a traditional straw rice bag in Japan (shaped like a chubby cylinder), and we like to make things like rice balls in tawaragata.

Coat the patty with a mixture of flour (wheat or rice) and water. You could use a starch & water mixture (like I did), but it’s a lot harder to work with, so I recommend using flour. (It got a little messy in the photo because the patty got stuck on starch!)

Coat the patty with panko breadcrumbs. The important thing here is to coat the surface evenly to make sure no part is left behind!

So last time when I made the potato korokke, I used my basting brush to drizzle or sprinkle on oil, but it was impossible to cover the entire surface, making some parts way crunchier than other parts (where oil didn’t get to). This time, I used spray olive oil, and it worked like magic! I was able to cover the entire surface, even the sides, really well with minimum amount of oil.

Bake in oven at 220 degrees Celsius for 10-15 min or until golden brown.

This kabocha pumpkin korokke had a really nice crunchy but light and airy texture on the outside and was soft but chunky inside. Who would have thought but the combination of coconut oil and miso on sweet kabocha pumpkin is actually a match made in heaven. It created a flavor that made it very difficult for me to resist a second (and a third!) 🙂

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