How To Make Latkes

Although latkes are traditionally made from potatoes, they can be made from a number of other foods that can be grated: sweet potatoes, parsnips (mixed with other things!), carrots, beets, squash and even salmon. The Food Network has a list of more than 20 different kinds of latkes from a variety of ingredients, but the basic steps and techniques are the same for them all.

  1. Wash and peel, if needed, the vegetables to be grated. About 1 1/2 pounds of vegetables are needed.
  2. Grate with the coarse side of a box grater or the large shredding blade of a food processor.
  3. After grating, cover the vegetables with cold salted water to keep them from discoloring and to remove excess starch from potatoes.
  4. Finely chop one small onion.
  5. Drain vegetables and blot with paper towels to remove excess water.
  6. Combine vegetables and onion with two beaten eggs, salt and pepper to taste, and about two tablespoons of flour or matzoh meal. Because latkes are served during Hanukkah, matzoh meal is the traditional Jewish additive, but flour works just as well.
  7. Be creative with seasonings: Add thyme or curry powder to latkes made with sweet potatoes or squash, rosemary or Mrs. Dash to potatoes, etc.
  8. Heat a thin layer (about 1/4 inch deep) of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet until just below the smoking point (about 375 degrees on a candy or frying thermometer). Use canola or peanut oil for the best frying at high temperatures.
  9. Drop the latke mixture into the oil by tablespoonfuls and fry until golden brown on both sides, about two to three minutes per side. Latkes are done when the edges crisp slightly and the entire pancake is a golden brown color; think hash browns for a good guide! If latkes start to brown too quickly, reduce heat a bit. It is important that latkes are added to hot oil so that the potatoes or other root veggies don't absorb too much oil, but too high a temp can make them burned outside yet still not cooked through! Keep warm in a 200 degree oven while the remainder fry.
  10. Potato latkes are traditionally served as a side and garnished with applesauce, sour cream or cottage cheese, but creativity can come into play here as well. Try creme fraiche instead of the traditional toppings, or ranch dressing, or any other dip or sauce that you like!


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Aaah, traditionalist here. I've enjoyed many Latke experiences and potatoes lead the way. You can leave out the eggs, too, to achieve a genuine peasant latke (eggs were too valuable in the shtels of Eastern Europe where the traditional Latke was brought to perfection). I enjoyed the article.

By Murry Shohat