How did potato pancakes (latkes) come to be part of Hanukkah? Not being Jewish (despite what people thought when we first moved here and didn’t have time to put up the Christmas lights), I had to look this up. Turns out it’s all about the oil — the oil in the Temple that miraculously lasted eight nights, commemorated in ordinary cooking oil. In Israel, according to Wikipedia, jelly doughnuts are actually more in favor at Hanukkah.
Many countries, however, have their own versions of potato pancakes, and years ago I came up with my own American/Canadian/Dutch/whatever kind. The recipe started out simple and grew even simpler over the years, losing the onions after we had kids. But if you’d like onions in yours, just finely chop half a small one and mix it in.
Some sources tell you to rinse the shredded potatoes to remove the starch. Not knowing that in the beginning, I’ve never gotten into the habit, which may be why my mixture starts shedding liquid as it stands. The pancakes still come out fine if I don’t try mixing it back in.
One more note: Remember the sour cream.
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup flour (blending flour is easiest)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Vegetable or canola oil for frying
- Beat the egg, flour, and salt till well blended.
- Peel potatoes and shred coarsely with a cheese grater.
- Mix the shredded potatoes with the egg mixture in a large bowl till well combined.
- Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to cover the bottom — oil should be shallow.
- Heat pan over medium high heat till the oil sizzles.
- With a large serving spoon (about 2 tablespoons), take a portion of the potato mixture and carefully place in the hot oil. Flatten slightly with a fork. If it doesn’t sizzle, wait a couple of minutes before putting in the next portion.
- Some liquid may begin to separate from the potato mixture. Don’t stir it back in, I’ve tried this and it spoils the texture.
- Continue till pan is full — don’t crowd the pancakes.
- When edges begin to brown, carefully try to turn over the first pancake with a (metal) spatula. If it sticks, wait a minute and try again.
- Carefully turn over pancakes that are ready (using a spatula and a fork) and let them brown two or three minutes on the other side.
- Put finished pancakes to drain on paper towels, on a platter, and keep warm in an oven set very low or another warm place.