Ode to a Latke
Fried foods like soofganiot (doughnuts) and potato pancakes are traditionally eaten on Hanukkah in commemoration of the oil that miraculously burned for eight days when the Maccabees purified and rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem. Fried Potato Pancakes (called Latkes in Yiddish and Levivot in Hebrew).
I love potato latkes. Some of my very favourite food memories from my child hood include this delicious, oily treat. My mother’s cooking repertoire wasn’t big or even outstanding but one of the stars was definitely crispy on the outside and soft on the inside potato latkes.
This Hanukkah tradition has been passed down and is still one of the family’s favourite indulgences and the Hanukkah season in Israel or elsewhere wouldn’t be the same without the smell of frying goodness wafting though the air.
Hanukah Potato Latkes Recipe
3 medium or 2 large baking potatoes such as Russet
1 large yellow onion
3 tsp (1 Tbsp) kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbsp flour or matzo meal
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Vegetable oil for frying
Place a heavy iron sauté pan over medium heat.
Peel the onion and cut in half. Peel the potatoes and cut in a size which will fit into the shoot of your food processor if using the food processor. I definitely prefer a hand grater for that touch of authenticity.
Grate the onion and then the potatoes. Put the grated potatoes and onion into a mixing bowl. Crack the egg onto the potatoes then add the salt, pepper, flour (or matzo meal) and add grated nutmeg. Mix thoroughly with your hands, squeezing out any excess liquid. Add a shallow layer of oil to the pan and allow to heat. Test the oil with a drop of the potato mixture, if it sizzles, the oil is ready. Take a nice palm full of the mixture out of the bowl and again squeeze out the liquid. Pat into a rough circular shape and place into the oil and pat down with a spatula so that the oil comes up to about half way up the side of the potato pancake. Cook the pancake for 3-4 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown. Carefully, flip the pancake with a spatula and cook until the other side is golden brown. Remove the pancakes as they are done and place onto absorbent paper towel.
You can serve them as they are or with sour cream or even with a sprinkle of sugar.