This really is the perfect bite – full of flavour, crisp on the outside and soft and zingy on the inside.
You will need 500g of whole prawns for this, as 50% of the prawn weight is the shell and the head. Reserve the shells for the bisque. Makes 24 croquettes For the bisque olive oil 25ml prawn shells and heads reserved from the bechamel (see right) carrot ½, peeled and chopped shallot 1, peeled and chopped celery 1 stick, chopped leek 1, trimmed, cleaned and chopped bay leaf 1 garlic 2 cloves, crushed tomato puree 2 tbsp brandy 50ml manzanilla sherry 50ml water 700ml For the bechamel whole milk 700ml bisque 300ml (see left) olive oil 25ml king prawns 250g, shelled meat, chopped (you will need 500g of whole prawns) unsalted butter 120g
plain white flour 220g salt and pepper to taste chives 3 tbsp, chopped For the crust eggs 4, whisked panko breadcrumbs 200g rapeseed oil 500ml
Begin with the bisque. Add the oil to a large saucepan and caramelise the prawn shells for a couple of minutes on a medium-low heat. Add the chopped vegetables, the bay leaf and the crushed garlic and caramelise for a further 4-5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add the brandy and sherry and keep cooking until the alcohol evaporates (this will take 2-3 minutes depending on the pan), then add the water and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the stock with a sieve and keep the stock. You will only need 300ml for this recipe but you can freeze the rest.
Next make the bechamel. In a 30cm-diameter saucepan, add the milk and 300ml of the bisque and bring to a simmer. In a separate pan, heat the oil, toss the prawns in quickly for 30 seconds, then remove the meat and set aside. In the same pan that you cooked the prawn meat in, melt the butter, then add the flour and cook together for 5-6 minutes on a medium-low heat. At that point, add the bisque and milk mixture little by little while stirring continuously. Once the sauce has come together and everything is well mixed, keep cooking it for at least 20-25 minutes on a low heat until it becomes a silky and creamy sauce. After 20-25 minutes, add the salt and pepper to taste, the chives and the prawns and combine until everything is mixed together. Let it cool, then place it in a container and put it in the fridge for at least three hours until it sets.
When set, make quenelles with the bechamel to give the croquetas their shape using two tablespoons (see below). You can also use a piping bag to make a 50p-coinsized ball, instead of making the quenelles.
Dip the croquetas in the whisked egg and then in the panko breadcrumbs. Put them back on a tray and let them rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour. In a mediumsize saucepan add three fingers high of rapeseed oil. To test the oil, throw a little bit of panko bread into the pan. If the oil starts bubbling then it is hot enough.
Fry the croquetas on a medium heat until golden brown (if the heat is too low the croquetas will fall apart and if it is too hot you will burn them). Place the croquetas on kitchen paper to absorb the remaining oil. Serve hot.
How to shape quenelles
A quenelle is a decorative oval shape formed by using two spoons, usually made using soft ingredients.
The size of spoon will determine how big the quenelles are, but always use two spoons of the same size.
Hold a spoon in each hand. Scoop a generous amount of mixture into one spoon. Gently curve the second spoon towards you, pressing its bowl against the mixture and scooping it into the second spoon as you go.
Transfer the mixture back to first spoon in same manner. You will start to see that it develops a smooth surface from where the spoon has scooped it. Keep scooping back and forth until a smooth oval shape is achieved.
PROP STYLING PENE PARKER; FOOD STYLING OLIVIA BENNETT
Above: prawn croquetas Left: piparras