Happy Hanukkah! In honor of the holiday, here’s my new favorite way to make latkes. Kimchi latkes are the happy result of having made an enormous batch of kimchi a few months ago. I’ve been putting kimchi in rice dishes, in sandwiches, in scrambles, in soups… if this hadn’t used up the rest of my kimchi (and some store-bought kimchi too), I might have teetered on the brink of kimchi french toast and kimchi cookies. (Although there are napa cabbages and radishes in my fridge waiting to be made into you-know-what.)
First, the kimchi. I’ve been making my own using this really tasty recipe. Before that I got great kimchi at the University District farmers market from the Woodring stand. But if you’re cooking with kimchi, I recommend using a less specialty kimchi, either part of your giant homemade batch or a simple one from a grocery store. Kimchi House in Ballard sells containers of their made-in-house kimchi.
Second, the latkes. It turns out potatoes and kimchi are delicious together. I served these with sour cream to which I added small amounts of other flavors: sesame oil, sesame seeds, scallions, kimchi juice, salt, and maple syrup. Don’t add too much of anything liquid or your sour cream will lose thickness. It helps to start with a thick brand, like Wallaby.
You can adjust the quantities in this recipe to suit your tastes. But too little kimchi will make the taste get lost in the latke, while too much will make the latke hard to fry and keep together.
Kimchi Latkes with Sesame-Scallion Sour Cream
(scale recipe up or down as needed)
- 6 small Russet potatoes, or 3 large ones (about 3 pounds), grated
- 1.5-2 cups kimchi, chopped up into small bits (You can reserve some kimchi to serve them with too.)
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds (or more/less to suit your taste)
- 3 small leeks or 2 large leeks (You can substitute a two bunches of scallions or a small onion.)
- Salt (about a small handful)
- 1/2 cup sticky rice flour/sweet rice flour
- 2–3 large eggs
- high oleic sunflower oil, chicken fat, or your favorite frying fat
- toasted sesame oil
- Thick full-fat sour cream, 1-2 cups as desired
- Salt to taste
- A few drops of Sesame oil
- A few teaspoons of sesame seeds
- A few drops of kimchi liquid or other spicy/hot sauce
- A few drops of maple syrup
- 2-4 scallions, a.k.a. green onions
- 1 very large mixing/salad bowl, preferably with a flat bottom and wide sides that widen as they go up.
- 1 colander (optional but very helpful)
- Grating equipment (food processor highly recommended)
- Large frying pan (cast iron, stainless steel, or non-stick as you prefer)
- Metal spatula, plus optional extra large metal spoon to help you flip the latkes
- Plate with paper towels
- Knife and cutting board
1. Grate potatoes and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle liberally with salt.
3. Clean and grate leeks and add to the potatoes, removing any of the tough outer or green parts. You can substitute two bunches of scallions or a small onion, but if you grate an onion press the water out before mixing it into the batter.
2. Chop kimchi and mix it into the potato mixture. Add the sesame seeds, adjusting the amount as desired.
3. Add two of the eggs and mix in.
4. Add the flour and mix in. If the batter really doesn’t look sticky, add a third egg now.
5. You now have kimchi latke batter. It might start releasing liquid, which we don’t want in the latkes. Here’s the magical solution (which can be used with any latke batter): Scoop all the batter into a colander. Then, set that colander back into your mixing bowl. Excess liquid will drain out into the bowl, from which you can dump it into the sink occasionally. You can press on the batter to expedite this.
6. Heat 1/8″ or so of oil in your pan. Add a dash of toasted sesame oil. When it’s hot, take a palm full of latke batter, press it gently from above with the palm of your other hand, and place it in the oil. Arrange 3-4 of these in the pan. Let that side cook until brown, and don’t poke them too much.
7. When one side is brown, use a metal spatula to flip the latke. I like to flip it two-handed with a large metal spoon in the other hand. Fry the second side until crispy brown, and then place on a waiting plate with paper towels.
8. Is your batter holding together properly and not too moist? If it’s falling apart, you can mix in another egg in. You may also want to taste a test latke at this point to make sure the batter has enough salt.
9. Repeat until batter is used up, replenishing your oil frequently as you go. Serve hot with sesame-scallion sour cream and/or more kimchi.
1. Chop scallions fine. Add to sour cream, reserving a few for the top.
2. Add sesame seeds and salt to taste. Reserve a few sesame seeds for the top.
3. Very carefully add small drops of the wet ingredients, mixing after each. Taste. You want enough to flavor the sour cream, but not so much that the sour cream gets liquidy.
4. When the sour cream suits your taste, sprinkle a few scallions and sesame seeds on top.