In season: Cauliflower croquettes

These moreish, light and crispy fritters are a fantastic way to use the humble cauliflower. I have simply sprinkled over some homemade cumin salt and they are ready to enjoy. They are a great pre-dinner snack (ideal for the Rugby World Cup).

Cauliflower croquettes. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Cauliflower croquettes. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
500g cauliflower
30g butter
50g flour300ml milk
60g Gruyere (or any good melting cheese with a slight nutty flavour), grated
1 egg
1 egg, separated
Salt and pepper
Panko* crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying

Toasted cumin salt:
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp sea salt flakes

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Prepare the cauliflower by removing the stalk and cutting it into florets. Carefully plunge all the cauliflower into the boiling water and cook until tender (5-8 minutes), drain and cool.

Cut the cauliflower florets smaller and set aside.

To make the bechamel (white sauce) Melt the butter in a medium-size pot. Add the flour and cook 2-4 minutes, stirring all the time until it becomes sandy in texture and gives off a slightly nutty aroma. Gradually add the milk, stirring continuously. If by any chance you get some lumps then simply set to with a whisk until no lumps are visible. Add the cheese and egg along with the other yolk and stir to combine. Add the cauliflower and season with salt and pepper. Cool.

Meanwhile make the cumin salt: gently heat the cumin seeds in a dry pan until they give off a lovely, smoky aroma. Put them into a mortar along with the salt and grind until you get a fine, brown-looking salt. Put it into a small dish.

Whisk up the egg white to stiff peaks.

Shape the cauliflower mixture by using two dessertspoons so you form an egg shape (quenelle). Coat in the egg white and then toss through the panko crumbs.

Continue until finished.

Heat enough oil (half-full) in a deep sided, heavy-based pot to 180degC. If unsure of the temperature, cook a cube of bread - if in 30 seconds it is brown, then the oil is hot enough. If not then heat the oil for a further couple of minutes.

Cook the croquettes in batches until golden brown and crispy. Drain well and sprinkle with the cumin salt. Serve immediately.

This recipe works well with leeks, broccoli or romanesco for a seasonal change.

*Panko crumbs are a type of flaky breadcrumb used in Japanese cuisine as a light, crunchy coating for fried foods. They can be found in good supermarkets.


Alison Lambert, chef at the Otago Farmers Market, will be demonstrating this recipe at the market on Saturday morning.


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