Just about every time we go out for tapas on Tenerife, you can bet croquetas (croquettes) are going to figure. They’re one of the crowdpleasers of the tapas scene. Just about everyone likes them, they’re tasty without being adventurous.
Croquetas usually consist of onion, garlic (maybe), olive oil, seasoning and the main ingredient mixed in a roux, rolled into oval shapes, brushed with beaten egg, coated in breadcrumbs and fried.
That main ingredient is usually ham, fish or chicken.
When we order croquetas mixta it can become a bit of a game to try to spot the difference between which is chicken, which is ham and which is fish. This is because often too much flour is used and the thick bechamel sauce tends to overpower the star ingredient.
When menus have croquetas caseras (homemade), the croquettes are likely to be better quality, but it’s not always a given. Lots of restaurants claim their food is just like their granny’s. But how do we know for sure granny was a good cook? Mine wasn’t. Croquetas de jamón ibérico are usually a safe bet though.
In recent years the world of croquetas on Tenerife has been given a bit of a shake up. The first I noticed was when spinach croquettes started appearing more and more. They stood out because, apart from their stronger flavours, you could instantly spot the difference in colour.
Then it was the most delicious blue cheese croquettes at El Porrón in the Noria district of Santa Cruz. Yowza, suddenly the humble croqueta wasn’t the boring but nice tapa I picked at when all the interesting ones had been scoffed.
Since then I’ve seen more and more unusual fillings turning up on tapas menus.
At El Maná in Puerto de la Cruz the trio of croquetas we shared were completely different from the norm. It’s a vegetarian restaurant so maybe you’d expect mushroom croquettes to replace the ham, leek to replace chicken. But beetroot ones were quite a shock… and shocking pink inside once you ‘cracked’ them open.
The latest additions to the diverse range of croquettes we’ve now tried on Tenerife were at Tito’s Bodeguita between Puerto de la Cruz and La Orotava. Chicken curry croquettes were always going to be a winner but banana flavoured ? Surely they belonged on the postre menu? But no, they were savoury and very, very tasty.
All of these alternative flavours haven’t helped my relationship with the old school croquettes. Now that I know there are some really adventurous croquetas out there, straightforward pollo, jamón and pescado seem even more mundane.
If anyone knows of other interesting croquettes, we’d love to hear about them.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+