For the last several years, I’ve been getting pretty experimental with my latkes (potato pancakes) at Hanukkah time. Eating oily and fried foods is part of the Hanukkah tradition and relates to the holiday’s miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. Latkes are normally just potatoes, matzah meal (or flour), eggs, and maybe some onion, turned into patties and fried, but you’ll quickly find the addition of kraut or kimchi gives something already delicious a huge flavor boost.
Some of the things I’ve made in the past are: latkes made with lacto-fermented potatoes (interesting flavor but needs tweaking so I won’t be posting that recipe quite yet); latkes with my fermented sriracha worked into the potato mixture before frying (now that’s a spicy winner!); and most recently, latkes with sauerkraut or kimchi worked into the mixture. These have got to be my favorite yet, and topping them off with my hot sauce or kefir sour cream is now always a must for me too. (Making kefir sour cream is easy and is explained in my post about making kefir butter.)
I used my jalapeno-pineapple-garlic kraut, which I actually made over a year before with my homegrown cabbages. It was still crispy and bursting with flavor!
Hopefully you have some kraut or kimchi ready to go. They take time to develop their flavor, but kraut – in my opinion – needs weeks if not months to develop the right flavor, while kimchi is good enough even after 4-5 days (though I do prefer to go longer). There’s also good options for krauts and kimchis at natural & health food stores, including Whole Foods and Sprouts. If you are just starting out making your own fermented foods, take a look at my easy recipes for homemade sauerkraut and kimchi varieties.
Although I love freshly grating my potatoes by hand, a good hack is to buy frozen shredded potatoes, let them thaw, but make sure to be thorough on the moisture-draining process noted below.
Now with no further ado, let’s get to the easy latke recipe which incorporates one of these delicious fermented foods.
This recipe yields around 9-10 latkes. This recipe was updated on 11/28/21.
You will need:
- Grater or food processor
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Large mixing bowl
- Clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth to wring moisture out of batter
- Deep frying pan/skillet or electric skillet (that’s my go-to to make up to 8 latkes at a time)
- Large plate and paper towels to absorb excess oil
- 1 lb. potatoes, grated (Idaho or Russet suggested)
- 1/2 lb. sauerkraut or kimchi (or try curtido!), drained and chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, grated or shredded (or sub with a couple stalks sliced green onion)
- 1-2 cloves garlic (optional), minced
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup matzah meal or flour (use a bit more for less starchy potatoes)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
1.) With the grater or food processor, shred the potatoes and onion. Mince the garlic. Drain and chop the kimchi (no need to chop sauerkraut unless it was thick cut).
2.) Place the shredded/grated potatoes, kraut or kimchi, garlic and onion in a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth and wring all the water out vigorously for several minutes. You want to get the mix as dry as possible.
3.) Next, whisk the eggs and combine and evenly mix all the ingredients in large mixing bowl.
4.) Pour about 1/2″ oil into the pan or skillet. (You want the oil to rise to about halfway up the latkes, and the oil level will rise as you add more latkes.) Set to a high heat so that the latkes will immediately sizzle when placed in the oil. You can test this by placing a shred of potato in beforehand.
5.) Make round, palm-sized patties by hand and place in the burning oil, or use a large spoon to transfer some batter in, then flatten with a spatula. Use a rounded tablespoon for smaller sized latkes. Turn down the heat to medium-high, cooking for a few minutes on either side, to make the latkes golden brown without burning them.
6.) When the latkes are ready, transfer them to a plate with paper towels under and over them, and gently press to absorb excess oil.
Whether you’ve been making latkes for years, or these are your first ever, I don’t think you’ll want to have regular old potato latkes after this!
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