These salmon croquettes are more elegantly called fondants in French - literally "melting" or "moist" titbits. Indeed, the mixture of poached fish and béchamel sauce creates a dish with a meltingly creamy interior and a light, crisp crust. At Le Cordon Bleu, salmon is poached especially for making these croquettes, but leftover fish may also be used. Indeed, any cooked vegetable or meat can be prepared in exactly the same way.
NOTE: The butter used to make the sauce served with the croquettes is clarified to remove milk solids. This technique produces a perfectly transparent liquid that can also be used as a cooking fat. Clarified butter can be heated to very high temperatures without breaking down and gives a delicious flavour to foods cooked in it. Butter loses up to 25 percent of its weight (in water and milk solids) when clarified.
1.5 litres (2.75 pints) water
60 ml (2 fl oz) white wine vinegar
Large pinch coarse salt
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 sprigs thyme
1 small bay leaf
10 peppercorns, crushed
450 g (1 lb) salmon fillet, skinned
45 g (1.5 oz) butter
45 g (1.5 oz) flour
225 ml (8 fl oz) milk
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3 egg yolks
LEMON AND CHIVE SAUCE
175 g (6 oz) butter
Juice of 1 lemon, strained
45 ml (3 tbsp) chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground pepper
115 g (4 oz) flour
3O ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil
3O ml (2 tbsp) water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
225 g (8 oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
1 bunch parsley, to garnish
Butterfor croquette mixture
Oil for deep-fat frying
The chef has a short story about poaching and one about deep-fat frying.
Prepare the court bouillon in a large shallow saucepan, using the above ingredients and following the directions for basic court bouillon. Leave to cool to room temperature.
Add the salmon to the saucepan with the cooled court bouillon and bring to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand until cool. Remove the fish from the poaching liquid and drain well on a wire rack.
Prepare the béchamel sauce: use the above ingredients and follow the directions given in Oeufs à la Tripe. Whisk the egg yolks with a little of the hot sauce and return to the pan. Return the sauce to the heat and cook for 1 minute.
Flake the drained salmon and stir it into the béchamel sauce. Spread the mixture out on a dish. Pat the surface with butter to prevent a crust from forming. Refrigerate for about 1 hour, until cold.
Meanwhile, prepare the lemon and chive sauce. First clarify the butter: melt the butter in a saucepan over very low heat, without stirring. Skim the foam from the surface. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for a few minutes until the milk solids settle on the bottom. Carefully pour the clear yellow liquid (the clarified butter) leaving the milk into a container, solids in the bottom of the saucepan; discard the solids. Whisk the lemon juice into the clarified butter. Add the chives and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep the sauce warm over a saucepan of hot water.
Fill a large saucepan or deep-fat fryer about one-third full with the oil and heat to a temperature of about 182 C (360 F).
Prepare the coating: put the flour on a large plate. In a shallow dish, beat the eggs with the vegetable oil and water, then season the mixture with salt and pepper. Put the breadcrumbs on another large plate.
Shape the croquettes: dip 2 tablespoons in cold water to keep the croquette mixture from sticking. Scoop out a mound of the cooled fish mixture with one of the spoons. Invert the second spoon over the top of the mound to smooth the croquette into an oval shape. Then slide the top spoon under the croquette and transfer it to the plate with the flour. Dredge it in the flour and shake off the excess. Gently pinch one end of the croquette to form it into a pear shape. Dip it in the egg mixture, then roll it in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining fish mixture.
Gently lower the croquettes into the hot oil, frying no more than 3 at a time. Fry for about 3 minutes, until golden. Drain on paper towels.
To serve, line a serving platter with a white napkin and stand the croquettes on the platter. Insert a small piece of parsley stem in the top of each to represent the stems of the pears. Decorate the platter with parsley sprigs. Serve the sauce in a sauceboat.