Ever get a new cookbook and spend so much time browsing through it that you can hardly bear to decide what to make first? That happened to us, too…but we settled on this recipe, one balmy spring afternoon. The book in question is The Good Fork Cookbook, by Sohui Kim, and when we tried this recipe, we thought at first we might just start with the fennel jam. But the jam is less a classic, pectin-rich jam than a succulent, caramelized spread; it really needed to go on top of something that could stand up to its intense flavors and spices. The spring pea croquette is the perfect foil to this spread, dotted with whole peas and suffused with warm toasted spices from across the globe. And the yogurt, tangy and peppered and zested with lemon peel, adds a bright and creamy note, a ray of sunshine through a white cloud. We changed very little of the original recipe; a little more Anaheim, some dill in the yogurt, an egg to hold the croquettes together more neatly. Little crunchy globes of sweet, savory, spicy spring flavor you can eat with your fingers. Yum.
Make the fennel jam: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Saute the onion and fennel bulb with the sugar and fennel seeds until the mixture caramelizes and becomes a deep nutty brown.
Add the Pernod and stir, until any browned bits from the bottom of the pan are loosened and the Pernod is cooked into the onion-fennel mixture.
Remove the pan from the heat and divide the mixture in half. Puree half of the onion-fennel mixture in a blender, and add it back to the pan. Stir to mix well, and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.
Make the lemon pepper yogurt: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and salt and pepper to taste. Finely mince the dill and stir it in. Zest a lemon into the mixture and stir to combine. Sprinkle additional dill and zest over the surface of the yogurt and refrigerate until needed.
Make the croquettes: Heat a dry skillet over medium heat, then toast the coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds; shake them around the hot pan until they smell fragrant and toasty. Grind them in a mortar and pestle and set aside.
Add the vegetable oil to the pan and return to medium heat.
Sweat the onion, ginger, and chile until translucent and a little browned around the edges, about 10 minutes. Stir in the toasted spices and the garam masala, and cook for just a minute longer.
Divide the onion spice mixture in half and puree one portion of it in a blender or food processor. In a large bowl, place the mashed potatoes, peas, and both the pureed and diced onion spice mixtures.
Add 2 cups of the panko crumbs and fold all the ingredients together. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. This is your croquette dough.
We found that the addition of an egg at this stage helps the balls hold together very nicely. If desired, add a beaten egg to the mix and stir well to combine. If your mashed potatoes are real creamy, you may omit this step.
Shape the croquette dough into golf-ball sized pieces. Roll them in the remaining panko crumbs.
Heat 2 inches of grapeseed oil in a large deep skillet with a heavy bottom. You want the oil at about 350° F.
Drop the croquettes into the hot oil, just a few at a time. Fry them until they turn a deep golden brown, then set them aside to drain on paper towels. (If you use less oil, turn them frequently so that they cook evenly on all sides.)
When all of the croquettes are fried, serve them hot with the fennel jam and lemon pepper yogurt.
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