Shrimp croquettes

The shrimp croquette is the absolute test for good brasserie fare. If there’s a croquette with a crispy crust and a creamy filling packed with a generous portion of shrimps on your plate, you’ve got a winner.

Every year in Ostend, they select the very best shrimp croquette. To be in the running for this prize, a number of croquette commandments must be obeyed:

  • First and foremost, fresh hand-peeled North Sea shrimps must be used.
  • What’s more, the shrimp croquette must be crunchy and crisp. You get such a perfect croquette by making sure that the filling has set enough: if the filling is too runny, the croquette risks bursting during deep frying. The trick is to get the texture just right so that the filling seeps out nicely without creating a soggy crust.
  • The shape of the croquette is also important: a cylindrical croquette is preferred because with this shape the shrimps remain whole inside the filling (with a square or rectangular croquette, the shrimps risk breaking up during the creation, and that is a sin).
  • Finally, to taste the pure flavour of the shrimps, the croquette must be fried in fresh frying oil.

The classic garnishes of lemon and fried parsley are not obligatory. If the shrimp croquette meets all previous requirements, it will shine on its own! 

Shrimp croquettes with bisque

From head to tail

Vistrap Oostende ©Visit Oostende

A shrimp croquette is the ultimate circular dish: a hearty bisque is made from the shrimp heads and shells that remain after peeling. This fragrant soup is the basis for the filling for the shrimp croquette: the liquid is thickened with a roux of flour and butter. So, nothing of the precious grey shrimp goes to waste with this dish.

History of the croquette

A shrimp croquette is typically Flemish fare. Not much is known about its exact origins. Although the well-known chef Cauderlier – the author of the first cookbook from this part of the world – probably has something to do with it. In his cookbook, he experimented with the filling for the well-established meat croquette, opening up people’s minds to the possibility of also incorporating grey shrimps into croquettes. It was probably around the time of the First World War that shrimps were first inserted into pastries to preserve them for longer for the soldiers on the front line. These pastries would have been the inspiration for the shrimp croquette as we know it today. It was only after the Second World War that the shrimp croquette appeared on menus en masse along the coast. The salty croquette became a resounding success and quickly conquered the whole of Flanders.

Shrimp croquettes