Latkes are traditionally eaten during the Chanukah festival. The oil for cooking the latkes is symbolic of the oil from the Chanukah story that kept the Second Temple of ancient Israel lit with a long-lasting flame that is celebrated as a miracle.
Despite the popularity of latkes and tradition of eating them during Chanukah, they are hard to come by in stores or restaurants in Israel, having been largely replaced by the Chanukah doughnut (see upcoming article on Sufganoit or Jelly Doughnuts).
Latkes are not necessarily be made from potatoes. Sometimes they are made from a variety of other vegetables, cheeses, legumes, or starches. Potato pancakes are shallow-fried pancakes of grated or ground potatoes and may be topped with a variety of condiments, ranging from the savory (such as sour cream or cottage cheese) to the sweet (such as apple sauce or sugar), or they may be served ungarnished. Potato pancakes are sometimes made from mashed potatoes.
Potato Pancakes, Latkes with Sour Cream
Avi’s Favorite Latke Recipe Makes about 24 latkes
Ingredients: • 7-8 large russet potatoes, peeled • 1 1/2 medium onions • 6 large eggs, beaten • 3/4 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs • 2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper • 3/4 cup canola oil (for frying) • Applesauce and sour cream, for serving
Directions: Grate the potatoes and onion into a bowl or pulse in food processor (careful not to puree it). Drain any excess liquid from the bowl and add the eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper. Mix all of the ingredients together to thoroughly combine them.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Spoon the latke mixture into the hot oil forming small pancakes, using 3-4 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. Cook until the underside is golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the latke over and cook until the other side is golden and the potatoes are cooked through, about 2 more minutes.
One way to tell that your latkes are done is by sound: when it stops sizzling it’s time to flip it over. Allowing a latke to remain in the oil after the sizzling has stopped will result in greasy, oil-logged latkes (which is not what you want).
When done, remove the latkes from the oil and transfer them to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Pat off the excess oil once they have cooled a bit, then serve hot with applesauce or sour cream.
Here is a video to show you how to make them:
Check back daily for more Chanukah traditions!