Eva's Cooking Class: Tuna Croquettes with Coffee Salsa

Tuna, coffee and… salsa? Stick with me, here. I promise you this neither a typo nor a horrible idea.

In Eva’s last class, eyebrows raised upon hearing we were making tuna croquettes with coffee salsa. “Did she say coffee? In salsa? With tuna?” a few skeptical students asked. But as we watched Eva work her magic in the kitchen, we realized it wasn’t nearly as weird as it sounded. 

These crispy potato croquettes are lightly flavored with tuna and onion, and make a fun little appetizer or a light midday meal. Eva serves them with her deep red Salsa de Cafe, a two-chile salsa that leaves tradition behind with a touch of instant coffee. (Just too weirded out by the coffee? You could skip it and still have a perfectly flavorful salsa.) But hey, like my mom told me daily as a child, “You won’t like it ’til you try it!” 

Tuna Croquettes

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 can oil-packed tuna

1/3 c. Italian parsley, chopped

1/2 onion, minced

2 Tbs. butter

3/4 c. bread crumbs, halved

1 Tbs. yellow mustard

2 eggs

2 c. oil for frying

Salt & pepper 

In a large pot of salted water, boil the potatoes until they’re very soft, about 25 minutes. Rinse and drain the potatoes, place them in a large mixing bowl and mash them thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a small frying pan, melt the butter. Add the onion to the pan and saute over medium-low heat until they just begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the yellow mustard to the onion and stir to combine. Remove the onion from the heat. 

Add the onion/mustard mixture, tuna, and eggs to the potatoes, using your hands to mix in thoroughly. Add half of the bread crumbs and mix in with your hands. Add the other half and continue to mix in. 

In a large frying pan, heat the 2 cups of oil. Shape 2 tablespoons of the croquette dough with your hands into small log shapes, about 2 1/2 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Fry the croquettes on all sides until golden brown, turning as needed. Drain on a paper towel and serve hot. 

Salsa de Cafe

5 dried Guajillo chiles

5-10 dried Arbol chiles (depending on how hot you like it)

2 lb. tomatillos, cleaned and rinsed

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs. instant coffee

2 Tbs. cooking oil

Salt to taste

In a large pot of salted water, boil the whole tomatillos until they’re soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Reserve about a cup of the cooking water.

In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the Guajillo chiles and toss in the hot oil to soften, about 90 seconds. Remove the chiles from the pan.

Add the Arbol chiles to the pan and toss them in the oil to soften, about 90 seconds. Add the Arbol chiles to the Guajillo chiles and set aside. Reserve the oil in the frying pan.

In a blender, blend the cooked tomatillos until liquified. Pour the liquified tomatillos into a bowl and set aside. In the same blender, add the softened chiles and about 1/3 of the liquified tomatillos and blend until a paste forms. (If you need more tomatillos to form a paste, add them.) 

In a large saucepan, add the infused oil from the frying pan, turning the heat to medium-low. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the chile/tomatillo paste from the blender to the saucepan, then add the remaining liquified tomatillos. Add the reserved tomatillo water to the saucepan and the instant coffee. Simmer for 2 minutes and remove from the heat. Serve with the croquettes, or just use as a hot sauce on most anything!