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Author Notes: This is a combination of elements from two other of my recipes. This time the tuna croquettes, with crunchy outsides yielding to creamy lemony tuna inside, are served on a bed of silky cucumber 'noodles' that are swathed in a wasabi spiked sesame oil lemon cream. —LE BEC FIN
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk, heated to hot
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice (usually 1 lemon)
- 12 ounces Pastene Fancy Light Tuna in Olive Oil
- kosher salt
- fresh coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, whisked well
- 3/4-1 cups Japanese Panko breadcrumbs*
- 4-5 cups Canola Oil for frying**
- Heat the oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Add the flour and cook 3-4 minutes while whisking frequently, until the roux turns beige. This cooks out the raw flour taste and makes a slightly nutty flavored roux. Add the hot milk while whisking ,and the mixture should immediately leaves the sides of the pan, clump in the middle, and be very very thick. The mixture should be smooth(no lumps of flour.) Turn off the heat. Switch to a wooden spoon and add the lemon juice and nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- With a can opener, open the top of each tuna can all the way, but leave the top in place. Over a bowl, invert each can and squeeze down hard on its contents so that all juices and oil leave the can. (Now give this bowl to your watchful kitty!) Over the saucepan of beschamel, add the tuna while shredding finely with your fingers. Blend thoroughly and adjust seasoning as needed. The goal is a well blended,smooth creamy mixture, not a chunky one, and with a bright lemon flavor (enough so that it won't need more later) spiked by pepper. Spread mixture into any spray-oiled 8-9” square pan; cover and refrigerate a few hours or overnight (or a few days) to set up.
- Remove the pan from the frig, uncover, and cut it into a grid of 4 x 4 squares. Remove each square (a narrow cake spatula or pancake spatula helps) and stand them on end in the pan, leaning against each other. Now roll them all: fold each square lightly in half , and roll in the palms of your hands briefly til you have a smooth 2 1/2” long, square ended barrel . To get the proper and equal size, I usually end up with only 15. Place them in a shallow oiled pan with edges.
- Place the panko in a container that has a tight fitting lid. With one hand, place 2 or 3 croquetas at a time into the bowl of well beaten egg. With that same hand, grasp each by its end and flip it lengthwise, rolling them around in the egg. Then place 2 or 3 in the panko.
- With the other hand, snap on the container lid and gently shake the container to coat the croquetas with panko. With that same other hand, remove them and place them back on the same sheet pan. When all are done, refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 3 days, covered) to set the coating. They should be firm, not limp or squishy .
- In a medium size saucepan or fryer, heat a 3-4” depth of oil to 370 degrees F. Carefully lower in the croquetas. Depending on the size of your pan, fry about 4-5 croquetas at a time (do not crowd them) for about 5 minutes til medium brown. Stir gently after 2-3 minutes to assure their not sticking on the bottom. To test for doneness, remove a croqueta and insert a metal skewer tip into the middle. Upon removal, if the skewer tip is hot, the middle of the croqueta is as well. Drain on thick newspapers topped by a triple thickness of paper towels.
- Notes: *Japanese panko is readily found in supermarkets and Asian food stores. For frying, it is hugely superior to bread crumbs because its texture and airiness creates a much crisper crunchier coating.
- ** Fresh oil is necessary for a clean fried taste. I use about 4 1/2 cups of oil to fry one batch of croquetas. I then filter the cooled oil through a fine sieve and discard the debris from the sieve and the pan. If the oil retains a golden color(unlikely), I may add a bit of new oil to it and use it for one more batch of croquetas, but then I discard that oil after that second batch.
Cucumber Noodles and Dish Assembly
- 4 English cucumbers, cut into 4” lengths
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons Hellman’s Mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Lemon juice (or lime)
- 2 teaspoons fresh wasabi paste (gritty is best, often in packets at sushi counters; Genji brand is excellent. Don’t use the powder; it is terribly bitter)
- 1-2 teaspoons Sesame Oil (Maruhon is my favorite)
- 1/4 teaspoon Tamari ( or Japanese soy sauce)
- Cucumber noodles: To julienne the cucumbers: slice cucumber into thirds, approximately 4” lengths. By hand: slice lengthwise into 1/4 “ slices and slice these into 1/4 ” strips, discarding the seeded centers. Or use a mandoline
- Or fit a #4 slicing blade onto a Cuisinart, place a piece of cucumber down horizontally in the tube, snap on the processor top, and with gentle pressure from the pusher, slice the cucumber. Remove from the feedtube, slice per above, discarding the seeded centers. Repeat with the rest of the cucumber pieces until you have 16-18 ounces of usable noodles.Gently toss the cucumber strips with 2T. kosher salt. Put in a colander or sieve for 1 hour or until cucumber noodles have given up their water and become silky and flexible. Rinse thoroughly once or twice in running water to remove salt. Let sit a few minutes to dry.
- Sesame Wasabi dressing: Thoroughly combine mayo through tamari with a fork.Combine with cucumber noodles. Adjust seasoning.
- Arrange cuccumber noodles on each plate and top with a wheel pattern of tuna croquettes in the center.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Canned Fish Recipe