“Korokke” (potato croquette) is a rather common home cooked dish in Japan, writes our correspondent in that country, Mariko Kihira. Mashed potatoes form the base ingredient of the croquet, and after minced meat and cooked or caramelized onions are added, it is formed into an oval shape, battered with flour, egg and breadcrumbs and then deep fried. One brand of the croquet that is nowadays becoming very popular in Japan, is the ‘Mishima Croquet’, made from the Mishima Breisho (Breisho translates to potato in Japanese).
The Mashima Breisho potato is in actual fact the May Queen variety, which was reportedly imported from England as long ago as 1917. It is cultivated in Mishima city, which is situated in the Kannami-cho area at the western foot of Hakone (located in the eastern part of Shizuoka prefecture in Japan). The Mishima Breisho was registered with Geographical Indication status in October 2016 (a geographical indication [GI] is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin). It is the first time that a potato was registered as a GI in Japan.
The soil in this area is categorized as black soil (a thick layered humus rich andosol or a light-coloured, wet andosol type soil). The cultivated layer of this soil is deep and soft, with good drainage and rich in oxygen. The south-facing slope where the potatoes are cultivated at 50m above sea level is a natural advantage for growing potatoes. Due to the steeply sloped fields, farmers cannot use large machinery. Each potato is carefully harvested singly by hand, and only in the month of July. The potatoes have a beautiful skin finish after being harvested, with no skin blemishes. The flesh of these potatoes has a creamy texture when cooked, soft and flaky with a sweetish flavor. The sweet flavor comes from being stored in dark and cool storage rooms for 1-2 weeks after harvest. It is now established as a luxury brand potato. The selling price to consumers is around 2,500JPY-4,000JPY for 5kg (500-800 JPY/kg. or 3.8 – 6 euro), which is a high-end consumer price for fresh potatoes in Japan.
Mishima croquettes are made using only the Mishima Bareisho. More than 1,000 cafes, restaurants, bars, bakeries and stands in Japan are now selling the Mishima Croquettes. Only croquettes made from the Mishima Bareisho variety can be labelled Mishima Croquettes, although outlets such as cafes, bars and restaurants use their own specific recipes. There are other croquettes made and sold in Japan as well, but these do not have the distinct taste of the Mashima croquet.