Chanukah is one of my favourite Jewish holidays ever! AND it starts with the letter C, depending on how you look at it. Although for the most part, I am skeptical of organised religion, there’s no denying that we Jews know how to eat. Sufganiyot? Jelly-filled heaven. Challah bread? Gimme some more. Gefilte fish? OK – maybe not.
The latke is probably the best of all Jewish foods, matzo ball soup and bagels and cream cheese aside. They are so good that there is a book about them, a song:
I’m a little latke, round and flat.
Here is my front side, here is my back.
When I get all fried up here me shout.
Flip me over and take me out.
And even, as of late, a play. Disclaimer – there is probably more than one book about latkes, but The Runaway Latkes was always my favourite. Also, latkes don’t actually shout.
My mother and I used to make them every year, in a series of exercises of trial and error – sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t. To the layperson, the latke is a potato pancake. To the foodie Jew – it is an art.
I made them last year using a recipe from The Daily Green, and I’ll never go back.
1 pound potatoes – the recipe calls for russet, but they don’t do that here , so any good baking potato will do – peeled and grated. This is the key – however you chose to make your latkes, grate your potatoes. Never mash.
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and grated
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
Oil. Probably a lot of it.
1) Combine all ingredients other than the oil in a large bowl.
2) Don’t drink wine with this one a) because it will probably be morning when you are making these and b) because there’s a lot of hot oil involved.
3) Heat oil in a large pan, over medium-high heat.
4) Drop 1 tablespoon of batter per latke into the pan – flatten lightly with a spatula and then reduce heat. Cook until golden brown and crispy, roughly 5 minutes per side. Rinse and repeat. (Don’t actually rinse)
5) Transfer latkes to a plate or serving dished lined with paper towel. Serve warm with sour cream or applesauce.