The term “rissole” refers to several different foods, depending on which nation is involved. All of the forms of rissoles fundamentally resemble croquettes, but they can be prepared in a variety of ways and with an assortment of ingredients. Rissoles may be served as appetizers, accompaniments to a main course, or even desserts, depending on where they are being served, and which ingredients they are filled with.
Traditional rissoles are patties of minced meat or fish wrapped up in a savory pastry and deep fried. This version of the rissole comes from France, the nation which also gave this food its name: “rissole” comes from the Latin russeola, “reddish paste,” a reference to the appearance of the filling. From its French roots, the rissole has diverged considerably.
In some countries, the pastry crust is left off, and a rissole is rolled in breadcrumbs instead. Some cooks eschew any sort of coating for a rissole, preferring to make a blend of meat, potatoes, eggs, and breadcrumbs which can be molded into a firm patty. Ingredients such as onions may be added to rissoles as well, along with various spices, especially in nations with a culinary tradition of heavily spiced food.
The rissole also need not be deep fried, although frying is traditional. Sometimes rissoles are baked, and in other cases they may be pan fried in a thin layer of fat. The fats used also vary considerably, from lard, which yields a rich rissole with a very thick crust, to canola oil, which creates a thinner, lighter version of the traditional rissole.
Meat and fish aren't the only fillings which can be used in a rissole. Some cooks make rissoles with sweetened fillings like fruits to serve as desserts, in which case the rissole may also be accompanied by flavored syrup as a dipping sauce. Other rissoles go heavy on the vegetables, with potato rissoles being popular in places like Ireland.
Many nations have created their own version of the rissole. This food is commonly on offer in street stalls as a casual snack food, or in fast-food restaurants. Some fancy restaurants also serve rissole dishes, although they may use fancier ingredients and dress things up with complex sauces to make their rissoles more interesting. Rissoles can also be made at home. Because the definition of this dish is so flexible, cooks can freely experiment with their own ingredients and cooking techniques to create a version which appeals to them.