Latkes to die for, this Chanukah
PHOTOGRAPH BY SUZANNE BELLING
Pictured: Master Chef Alan Bender (centre) with Feigel’s team Patsy Dakes and Jos Zaslansky.
Brother and sister team Jos Zaslansky and Patsy Dakes entered Feigel’s, their mother’s family business in Rockey Street, Yeoville, 48 years ago. Jos and Patsy have moved to keep up with the changing demographics of the Jewish community and are now in Lyndhurst, with a satellite branch in Glenhazel.
“But I never cook at home,” says Alan. “My wife Gila does, because she cooks with love. I cook with passion.”
Alan has added spice and variety to his basic latke recipe “one of the few things my wife let me make in her kitchen”.
6 large potatoes peeled and left in water
1 large onion peeled
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup sugar (more or less)
½ to 1 cup flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
Oil for frying
1: In a large pan fill it one third of the way with oil, heating to a medium temperature.
2: Grate the potatoes and onion into a bowl and add everything else. Fry a tablespoon of mixture to test and taste to see if there is enough sugar, salt and flour, then adjust accordingly.
If the latke disintegrates, add a little more flour and if it’s a oily heavy lump, add a little more baking powder and up the heat of the oil.
3: Be careful of the hot oil. Wear long sleeves, always place the latke mixture in carefully and turn the latkes over away from you when one side is golden. Have a tray lined with absorbent paper to suck up the surface oil ready to receive the cooked latkes.
When turning the latkes, use a slotted spoon; it reduces the splash and helps the oil drain.
The potatoes will start to weep water the moment they are mixed. Don’t add more flour; just use your fingers or a slotted spoon to separate the potato mix from the liquid, discarding the liquid left over
Some variants on the latke
The classic American sour cream or apple sauce is great but we are South Africans, so try this on for size:
1: Slip some fried fish fingers into the latke mix just before frying and as it comes out of the oil, place a slice of cheese on top so it melts slightly.
2: Place a piece of cooked wors in the middle and top with chakalaka.
3: Mix some fine biltong powder with mayo and use that as a dip.
4: Smoked salmon and cream cheese make a classic topping.
5: Pulled (shredded) beef in a sticky sauce is delicious.
6: Just before you put the latke in the oil, sprinkle over some corn flakes for extra crunch.
- If you don’t feel like potatoes, replace with grated butternut, sweet potato, tinned corn (not sweet corn) or just about any vegetable as the flour and egg will turn it into a great latke.