2 tbsp. Olive oil
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
pinch of nutmeg
10 oz. Bacalao (salt cod),* desalted, deboned & shredded
3 cups Panko bread crumbs
Sweet Chili-Horseradish Sauce: (not traditional, but goes really well with the croquetas)
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
1/4 cup Chinese Sweet-Hot Chili Sauce
1/2 tsp. Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
a few drops of fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1. Melt butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until flour is well-blended.
2. Stir in 1/2 cup of milk, and turn up the heat to medium-high. Bring mixture up to a boil, then add remaining milk. Turn heat back down to medium low, and stir constantly about 5-6 minutes or until mixture thickens.
3. Add the shredded salt cod to the white sauce, and season with 1 tsp. salt and a pinch of nutmeg. Stir to blend and cook another minute or so until fish cooked through. Spoon mixture into a baking pan or casserole and let cool. Once cooled, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight to let it set.
4. For the breading: beat the eggs in a shallow pan or casserole. Place panko bread crumbs in a separate plate or casserole. Using a tablespoon, scoop out the fish mixture and shape into ovals (kinda cigar or football-shaped). First roll each croquette in the bread crumbs, then in the beaten egg, then back again in the bread crumbs, shaking off any excess. Place breaded croquettes on a foil-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for half an hour.
5. To Fry: Pour about 2 inches of olive oil in a pot (don't use a skillet or else you'll have to use a ton of oil to get it to the right depth) and heat over medium heat. When oil is very hot (almost smoking), add a couple bread crumbs to see if they sizzle. If so, add a few croquettes at a time (don't crowd the pot) and fry 2-5 minutes until the croquettes are golden brown on all sides. Remove to a large casserole dish or baking sheet lined with paper towels (keep the cooked croquettes in the oven so they stay warm). Fry the remaining croquettes.
6. To serve: Place croquettes on a platter and serve as is or with your favorite sauce. I don't think sauce is traditionally served with croquetas in Spain (I could be wrong, but my Spanish mom didn't), but EE and I invented a great sweet chili-horseradish dipping sauce for a batch of these guys that we cooked up on Memorial weekend. This is an all-purpose sauce that would probably go well with any seafood.
*If salt cod is impossible to come by, I think you can always substitute with any other white fish that's readily available in the market.