I know, I know, Hanukkah has come and gone… ahem, weeks ago. Fortunately, latkes, or potato pancakes, can be enjoyed all year round! I am not Jewish, but S is. As a result, we are celebrating the holidays in the grand Christmukkah/Festivus tradition. It’s pretty much awesome. How can you argue with celebrating double holidays?
For the first night of Hanukkah, we drove out to celebrate with one of S’s close friends in the Chicago suburbs. We lit the menorah, and ate traditional latkes. We (S) decided that we needed to try some interesting combinations for some innovative latke ideas. We decided to do a batch of plain latkes, a batch of jalapeno & cheddar latkes, and a batch of kimchi latkes. Don’t ask me where the kimchi inspiration came in – S came up to me clutching a bag of it in the grocery store with a crazed look in his eyes. I wasn’t about to argue with that.
Unfortunately, the kimchi latkes were a complete and utter fail. I think it likely had to do with the high level of liquid in kimchi. The success of crispy latkes depends largely on removing all of the liquid prior to pan frying. Regardless, I took pictures, so you get to see the product. I just wouldn’t recommend tackling them.
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and grated
1 small onion, grated or chopped
1 tsp garlic powder (or 2 tsp fresh minced garlic)
Salt& Pepper (And weirdly we added a couple of dashes of celery salt. Didn’t actually add flavor. Skip it.)
Several Tbsp vegetable oil (for frying)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese & 3 Tbsp chopped jalapeno
2/3 cup kimchi (nope. don’t.)
Peel raw potatoes. Cover with water in a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
If you have to take them out after 15 minutes, so be it. Don’t let it get in the way of your latkes. Grate them on a cheese grater. Make sure the middle isn’t rotten, we learned that the hard way. About 3/4 of the way through S realized he was grating rotten potatoes all over the good potatoes, so it was back to square one. Honestly, I’m not sure how to pick a good potato. It was clean, firm, smelled good…. no idea what went wrong. It was definitely rotten to the core.
Squeeze all of the water out. The less moisture, the better. You can use a cheesecloth – I think that is probably the traditional way. However, we used paper towels. Last year S forced all the water out with his bare hands. He just locked his fingers and squeezed. No reason you can’t get creative! Put those potatoes in a colander and push out the moisture with a spoon if you get squeamish. The bottom line is that you need to get all liquid out.
Once you’ve rid your tots of moisture, season generously with salt and pepper. Add the beaten egg and the onion. (For the jalapeno cheddar latkes, add the jalapeno and cheddar cheese at this point.)
Combine with a fork, mixing gently. Coat the bottom of a frying pain/saute pan with vegetable oil, and let it heat through. If you sprinkle a few drops of water over the oil, they should dance on top of the oil and eventually steam off.
Spoon as much as you want of the latke mix into the oil. I am personally a big fan of thin, crispy latkes, so I prefer a heaping tablespoon, flattened with tentacle-like edges. Lots of crunchy, flavorful goodness.
Once you can see the bottom turning golden, flip. We (cringe) did not actually time how long that took. We are completely guesstimating at 4 minutes a side. However, don’t leave the stove unattended, unless you want to burn your kitchen down (doubt you do…)
In between batches, dry the latkes on paper towels. Layer between each batch.
These are lovely with a little sour cream and some chives. Or siracha. You’ll figure out what you like, I”m sure of it!