|Vegan latkes use flax seeds as binder|
Since I'm about 99.9% vegan these days (I do still create and sample non-vegan recipes but I don't inhale), I thought I'd try adapting my latke recipe so I could scarf them up just like everybody else. The recipe worked well and the non-vegans who sampled the test batch liked them just as much as I did. The flax seeds gave the latkes a faintly nutty taste that was very pleasant. Since the symbolism of the fried potato pancake at Chanukah is all about the oil, not about the egg, a vegan latke is perhaps unorthodox but still in keeping with holiday tradition. If you would like the recipe and technique to make the more traditional latkes, please click here.
Serves 6 as a side dish, if this is a main course serves about 4. If you are feeding folks that like to grab the hot latkes right out of the fry pan for a little taste or nosh, yield will be significantly less.
I use flax seeds that come preground. I don't peel the potatoes. Shredding the onions with the potatoes is alleged to help retard browning, however once the potatoes are fried, any discoloration can't really be seen.
4 Tbs. ground flax
3/4 cup of water
3 lbs. of russet, Idaho or other baking potato, peeling optional
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Canola or other frying oil
Mix the ground flax seeds with the water. Stir or whisk until combined. Let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thick and gelatinous.
Shred potatoes alternating with onion. (Larger shreds produce lacier latkes with rougher edges. Fine shreds or grated potatoes produce more "pancake"-like latkes.) Squeeze dry and discard liquid. Stir in garlic, salt, pepper and flax seed mixture. Mix well. Let sit for a few minutes so mixture can bind.
In a very large skillet (the heavier the better) over medium-high heat, heat oil that is about 1/4-inch deep until it is very hot. (I drop a bit of batter in to see if it sizzles with bubbles all around.) Take a handful of the batter (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup depending on how large you want the pancakes) and press the the batter between two hands to make a patty, squeezing again to remove any moisture. Place carefully in the hot oil, pressing down with a spatular on the latke occasionally to flatten it some what. Do not over crowd the pancakes in the pan. Fry them until browned on both sides and crisp on the edges, adding more oil as needed. Drain on parchment paper (see note below). Repeat until all latkes are fried. Keep cooked latkes warm in a low (250 degree) oven if desired.
Note: The flax seeds not only "glue" the potato shreds together, they also cause the latkes to stick to paper towels or brown paper bags (the usual medium for draining them). Use the parchment paper instead to avoid or lessen the problem or pat the latkes with a paper towel and set them directly on the serving platter.