Another year, another arguably sacrilegious take on potato latkes! Ben Mekler here, husband of Kirby and obsessive potato pancake tinkerer. In what’s become an annual tradition, every year I like to take my Grandma’s beloved latke recipe and throw in a curveball in a sometimes-futile attempt at elevating the humble snack into something more. Or at least something surprisingly delicious. A couple years back, it was the kimchi latke. Last year? Apple potato latkes. This year, I tried to find a savory-sweet balance using a fruit I go absolutely berserk for during its limited Fall/Winter window of availability in Southern California: the persimmon.
A little sweet, a little floral, with a bit of bite from warm spices and an extremely generous helping of black pepper – these latkes rule. Just make sure you grab the right persimmons! You need the firm Fuyu variety. If you grab the bell-shaped Hachiyas, you’ll wind up with something that’s impossible to grate, and either horribly bitter or grotesquely mushy. Seriously, don’t screw this up. Fuyu only. Tattoo it onto the inside of your eyelids if you have to. FUYU.
Anyway, here’s the recipe:
Persimmon Latkes with Black Pepper Sour Cream
- 4 cups russet potatoes
- 2 cups grated Fuyu persimmon (probably three persimmons, buy four to be safe)
- 1 small yellow onion
- 5 eggs
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp corn starch
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- a pinch of nutmeg
- Enough oil to fry two dozen latkes. A lot. A lot of oil. I like to use grapeseed, but sunflower or canola will work just fine.
for the black pepper sour cream:
- 2 cups sour cream
- 2 tsps black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- a bunch of pomegranate seeds (you can buy a pomegranate and remove the seeds yourself, or buy a cup of the seeds – this is your life and you need to make your own choices)
- Peel and grate potatoes into a large bowl using the biggest holes of a box grater. After grating, rinse the potatoes with cold water to remove excess starch. Squeeze with a towel to remove extra moisture. (You're about to add a ton of moisture with the persimmons.)
- Grate (but don't peel) the persimmons into the bowl with the potatoes.
- Peel the onion, and grate into the bowl using the finest setting on the box grater. You're basically adding onion paste.
- Add the eggs, cinnamon, cumin, salt, pepper, corn starch, flour, and nutmeg to the bowl. Stir together until well combined. You want a wet mix, but if it looks like soup, add a bit more flour (one tablespoon at a time). You need the latkes to hold together in the hot oil.
- Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add a quarter cup of latke mix at a time and let each latke fry for about four minutes on each side. You want a nice, light brown color. Be sure not to crowd the pan – you should be able to fit two or three at once, but will need to do many batches. If your first couple of latkes have trouble sticking together, you can add more flour or another egg to the mix. You'll almost definitely need to keep adding oil to the pan to get through all your latkes.
- Once fried, transfer each latke to a paper towel-lined plate to sop up the excess oil. (Careful not to stack too many latkes atop each other or else they'll get soggy again.)
- For the black pepper sour cream: whisk the salt and pepper into the sour cream. Pretty easy! Adjust to taste. You want a strong black pepper vibe, but you also want to enjoy eating it.
- Once everything's put together, place a couple of latkes on a plate and smear with sour cream. Delicately rain pomegranate seeds over the pile. Dig in and enjoy.
Alright, Kirby here. If you make these latkes, we hope you love them! Just a reminder – the first night of Hanukkah is Thursday, December 10th this year. So this Thursday. That should give you a few days to get the goods for these babies. Though if you’re a little late I won’t tell anyone!
If you do end up making these, let us know in the comments or on Instagram! We love a good picture, too, so feel free to share those.