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Non-fried croquettes, how to add texture and crunch?

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I live in Japan. On one of my favorite shows they made a variation of croquettes without deep frying. Here are the steps:


Cube a peeled potato, cook it about a cup of water in a fry pan. When soft, add 1/2 a minced onion, cover until soft. Add very lean ground beef and a few light seasonings and cook gently mashing the potato until all the water is either absorbed or evaporated and the mixture become stiff. Form patties in the pan. Add panko to the same fry pan and toast until they are the color you want. Lift the patties into the toasting panko, flip to coat then  serve.


You could see the patties were very soft, but I love the idea. 


I'd love suggestions on how to possibly make a crust for added texture without deep frying. Also, any suggestions on a binder to make the mixture stiffer? 

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something like the below?

these are left-over mashed potatoes, dressed up with some chopped green onion.
used a can (top/bottom cut out) as a form to squish them in tight - then in the fridge for 4-5 hours to get max firmness.  then tamped onto panko & pan fried with minimal oil.

as you sensed, making anything cohesive with mashed potato is a bit tricky...  moisture and fats will cause the potato to go thin and fluid as it is heated.


with the procedure as given, the beef is one problem from both water and fat standpoint.  ground beef tends to give up a lot of water when cooked - the fat you can control via ultra lean cuts.


if at first you don't succeed,,, I'd be tempted to cook the beef separately - allowing you to drain off / blot out (all) moisture and fat.


onions will also give up a lot of water.  if doing this all in one pan, I'd wilt/sweat down the onions on the side before mixing them into the mashed potato.  once the mashed potato gets too much moisture, it takes a long slow patient cooking to drive off the moisture.



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