It’s been two months of tears, broken nights, and time feels like it has collapsed since October 7th. I’ve become too sensitive, vulnerable , overwhelmed by my surroundings: the cold, the rain, the news, Paris’ chaos and the world’s fall into darkness. I wake up at the sound of voices in my street, I’m too scared to take the metro, and sometimes just going out. I want to retreat, stay home, drink tea.This year I’ve been looking forward to celebrating Hanukkah, maybe looking for a miracle, and rekindling the light of hope.Latkes send me back in time, when deep fried food and love came piping hot on the table.So here am I, making latkes. Not just any latkes but your very old school, bubbe’s latkes. The healthy variations (like the carrot and courgettes, the oven baked dryish version or the disappointing sweetness of pumpkin or sweet potato) won’t make it this year.I am in need of good, plain, basic, potato latkes, fried in oil and eaten straight away, burning your fingers, and burning your mouth.My recipe is the mother of all recipes.No fancy vegetables, no flour or starch (it makes the latkes « pasty »), no green stuff in, not even schmaltz this time! You can add an onion but it is also optional.To make good latkes, it is important to choose the right potatoes; they need to be starchy, so don’t use small fancy potatoes. The big ol’ ones are the ones you’re looking for.They also need to be finely grated and most robots won’t do that: the grater will be perfect.Your frying oil is also important and should not mess with the taste of the latkes. No coconut oil or ghee! I use an organic blend of deodorized sunflowers oils for frying and it doesn’t smoke or smell.The temperature is important as well:
- If the oil is too hot, your latkes will burn, taste bitter and stay raw inside.
- If it’s not hot enough, the latkes will absorb all the fat and be very greasy and mushy.Ingredients for one portion (one portion makes 4-5 latkes):
- One pound of starchy potatoes
- One egg
- Salt and pepper
- One medium yellow onion, grated (optional)Directions:
- Clean and grate (no need to peel, really) the potatoes and put them in a bowl of cold water to prevent oxidation.
- Drain and squeeze them hard between your hands to remove all liquid.
- Add the onion if you use it, one beaten egg, salt and pepper, and mix well.
- Pour oil in a skillet (at least 5 millimeters deep, we are being generous here). When the oil is hot enough (a tiny drop of the preparation will sizzle) lower to a medium heat and put a large tablespoon of the mix for each latke and flatten it.
- Let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. When your latkes are golden on both sides, put them on a kitchen paper to remove excess oil
- Serve with sour cream, salmon/ herrings, applesauce or just plain, but eat very hot, blowing steam with your mouth.I love latkes with sour cream and herrings and never understood the applesauce trend but I accept it as something bizarre and the proof of our diversity!My heart goes to Israel this year and the Israeli people for their lonely fight against obscurantism. I send them love and my infinite gratitude.
Recipe by The Yiddish Paradox