Despite my mother’s insistence, and the evidence I found in her belongings, 23 and Me insists I’ve not a drop of Jewish blood. In other words, it’s highly probable that I don’t have the DNA to make a good latke. I tried anyway.
I had a few things going against me. Some my own doing.
- They needed to be vegan.
- Rather than using two potatoes I decided to use one potato and one white-fleshed yam.
- I was of the opinion that latkes were nothing more than Jewish hash browns. What could go wrong?
It turns out, quite a bit can go wrong.
If vegan latkes means no eggs to bind them what will keep them from falling apart? The choices are varied: chia seed, flax powder or aquafaba. Ben’s brilliant sister – who knows her way around the kitchen – squeezed the water from her shredded potato, allowed it to settle, and then used the starch at the bottom of the bowl plus one half of a banana to bind. My sad choice? Flour. In my defense I was referencing a recipe I found online. I said to myself, “That’s odd” but pulled the organic flour from the back of my kitchen cabinet anyway. A more skilled cook might have gotten away with it. Me? Not so much.
It was going well at first. I grated my tubers (the joke goes latkes are “Grate, Grate, Great!”) and spooned the results into a milk bag to press out as much liquid as possible. I returned the dried lump of spud and yam (spam?) back to a bowl and added half of a finely chopped shallot, a bit of baking powder, a splash of plant milk, salt and pepper and, of course, the flour. I can’t provide precise measurements for two reasons:
- I don’t have precise measurements.
- I referenced the online recipe. I didn’t exactly follow it.
Over-confidence got the better of me. When I could turn my batter into little patties I thought to myself, “I’ve got this.” When I put two test latkes on a slightly oiled griddle and watched them turn golden brown I smiled. But something wasn’t quite right. Instead of my latkes looking like this:
After they were fried they looked like this:
Although Ben insisted that all latkes are different and some even look like mine, I didn’t believe him primarily because I could serve the darling man baked brown paper bag and he’d insist it was the best brown paper bag he ever ate.
While they were somewhat crunchy on the outside, they had the consistency of grade school paste on the inside. Next year? This Gentile is sticking to hash browns.