I started researching the difference between American Hash Browns, Jewish Latkes and German Rösti, but the bottom line is there really isn’t a whole lot of difference.
Hash Browns: A traditional staple in America that you would get at Mel’s Diner. Shredded potatoes fried until browned.
Latkes: A Hanukkah potato that is grated, mixed with egg and onion, and then pressed into small pancakes and then fried.
Rosti: A German/Sweedish grated parboiled potato that is pressed into a slightly larger pancake and then baked. Most of the rösti recipes that I reviewed had rosemary in them.
The end result is very similar.
PLEASE READ: The key to successful deep frying is temperature. As long as bubbles are going out, oil cannot be going in. Too cool and the oil will seep into whatever you are frying. Too hot and it will burn, but still not be cooked inside. As soon as the bubbles stop, get it out of the oil. Use a submersible or candy thermometer to monitor temperature closely and keep your temperature as closed to 365º as possible. If you do it right, very little oil will be absorbed.
INGREDIENTS FOR PANKO POTATO LATKES
- 3 Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 small sweet onion
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 TBL potato starch (use corn starch if you have no potato starch)
- Salt and pepper
- Peanut or grapeseed oil for frying – both have a high smoke point
Alternatives are olive oil and/or schmaltz.
This recipe is adapted from ToriAvey.com. CLICKING HERE will give you a page of quite extensive instructions and a lot of good information and history about latkes. I recommend you visit Tori’s web page and read about latkes, then stop back here to print out this brief recipe summary, that makes a smaller amount than Tori’s recipe.
- Place a cooling rack near your oil with a newspaper beneath it to catch the drips.
STEP BY STEP
- Peel the potatoes, then grate them using a food processor. If you don’t have one, use a hand grater.
- Place grated potato into a bowl and immediately cover with cold water.
- No need to clean the grater. Grate the onion and put into the water with the grated potato.
- Drain the potato/onion mixture and place in the center of a clean tea towel.
- Firmly squeeze all excess liquid from the shreds.
- Place potato/onion mixture in a large bowl and separate the shreds with a fork.
- Mix panko, beaten eggs, potato starch, salt and pepper
- Fold panko into the potatoes and mix well.
- Pour peanut oil in a cast iron skillet to a depth of 1/8 inch and heat to 365º – You should use a thermometer to assure correct oil temperature.
- Put 3 TBL of the mixture into your hand and squeeze the heck out of it over an empty dish (to catch excess moisture) – Take note of how much is in your hand, for making the others.
- Shape the potato mixture into a tightly compacted disk.
- Lower the disk carefully into the hot oil. The latke can break apart easily, but if you can get them into the oil, they should be OK.
- Shape each subsequent latke just before it is slid into the oil. Don’t fry any more than five at a time. Don’t crowd the pan.
- Fry until brown and crispy (about 2-3 minutes per side)
NOTE: If your latkes are not holding together, stir 2 tsp potato starch and 1 tsp beaten egg till the batter holds its shape.
- Remove the latkes to drain using a metal spatula, and place on the wire rack.
- Serve within 10 minutes of frying them. Always serve latkes hot and fresh if possible. The longer they sit, the less crisp they’ll be.
- If you can’t do this, leave them on the rack to cool. When ready to serve, place in 375º oven for 10 minutes until heated through.
- Serve latkes with applesauce and/or sour cream, if desired.
- Latkes are traditionally cooked on Hanukkah, along with other fried foods, to commemorate the miracle of the menorah oil in the Jewish Temple.
- Chremslach (singular: chremsel) is the Yiddish word for a fried pancake. Potato chremslach are often mistaken for latkes. They are similar to latkes, with one major difference. Instead of shredding the potatoes, as we do with latkes, the potatoes are mashed and made into a thick batter before frying. Chremslach often appear on deli menus as “potato pancakes.” Latkes are thinner and more crispy due to the shredded texture of the potatoes. Chremslach are thicker and fluffier.
- The perfect latke is crispy on the outside while hot, soft and fluffy in the center. It’s aromatic and salty and oniony and delectable. A well made latke is nearly impossible to resist.
- This recipe is summarized/adapted from ToriAvey.com. CLICKING HERE will give you a page of quite extensive instructions. There is also quite a bit of information and history about latkes. I recommend you visit Tori’s web page and read about latkes, then stop back here to print out this brief recipe summary.
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