Taking traditional Japanese cuisine to a whole new level, Gonpachi Hong Kong serves kushiyaki-style skewered delicacies using the finest ingredients brought in directly from Japan. Head chef Fei Ngan, who joined the restaurant in 2013, shares the secrets of his signature dish: fresh crab croquette
What’s the story behind this recipe for fresh crab croquette and why is it a signature dish?
I learned this recipe in Japan on my first job and I liked it very much, so I kept it for over 20 years. This recipe wasn’t part of the Gonpachi restaurant group at the beginning. When the Hong Kong owner, Paul Kwok, got the franchise from the Gonpachi Japan group and opened this Hong Kong restaurant [in Causeway Bay at Lee Garden One], they only had two signature deep-fried items: deep-fried shrimp ball and potato croquette.
I had the idea that fresh crab croquette might be also interesting to have on an izakaya restaurant’s menu. Therefore, I proposed this recipe to Paul. He thought it tasted very nice and that it might be a good idea to make it a signature dish. The Gonpachi group in Japan also agreed. Thus, fresh crab croquette became the unique signature dish at the Hong Kong Gonpachi and over the past seven years, it has become one of our best-selling items.
What are the key ingredients for this dish?
Milk and crabmeat are the most important ingredients. For the crabmeat, I’m using Matsuba crab, which is one of the best-quality snow crabs produced in the Tottori area. Matsuba crabmeat is famous for the crustacean’s sweetness and umami. Therefore, I don’t add much seasoning in order to let the taste of the crabmeat stand out. High-quality butter and milk give the croquette a creamy texture and bring it to another level.
Makes about 30 croquettes
Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Preparation for the mixture
Finely chop the onions. Heat some oil in a pan and sauté the chopped onions until golden-brown, then set aside. Melt the butter in a pan. Add in the flour and cook for a few minutes. Pour in the milk and stir constantly. Add in the onions and crabmeat, and season with salt. Wait until the mixture cools down. Finally, put it into the fridge overnight and allow it to thicken.
Forming the croquettes
Beat the eggs in a bowl. Prepare the flour and panko in two separate dishes. Form the mixture into a ball. Coat it with the beaten egg. Then, coat it with flour. Dip it into the beaten egg again. Lightly press the panko onto the mixture ball. Repeat for each croquette.
Deep-frying the croquettes
Prepare oil in a saucepan and heat it up to 160°C to 200 °C. Deep-fry until golden brown.
photos by Calvin Ng
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