With Hanukkah coming up, I couldn’t resist sharing this traditional recipe — vegan-style. Frying foods during Hanukkah is an ancient tradition, connected with the oil that was used to light the menorah during this “festival of lights.” (Modified from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau)
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
4 tablespoons water
4 cups peeled and shredded potatoes (about 5 medium potatoes)
6 scallions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Canola oil for frying
Nondairy sour cream and applesauce, as accompaniments
In a food processor or blender, whip the flax seeds and water together, until it reaches a thick and creamy – almost gelatinous – consistency, about 1 or 2 minutes. This is going to be our “eggs,” which will help provide some binding for our potato pancakes. Set aside.
Spread the grated/shredded potatoes on a kitchen towel or cheesecloth, and roll it up jelly-roll style. Twist the towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. You may need to do this again with a second towel to extract all the water. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add the “flax egg” to the potatoes, along with the green onions, flour, and salt. Use your hands to combine the ingredients and to get a feel for the mixture. You want it moist but not too wet.
Heat some oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Using a tablespoon, scoop a large spoonful of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patties. To make a good medium-size patty, I use two tablespoons, but you can use one.
You are not trying to create dense patties, but the batter should stick together enough to form a patty and be flipped without falling apart. Slide a spatula underneath each latke while they’re cooking to make sure they don’t stick to the pan too much.
Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other. You may need to add more oil as you add more latkes to the pan. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil. Season with additional salt.
Serve hot with nondairy sour cream and/or applesauce.
Yield: 15 to 20 latkes
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