Scallion Latkes with Scallion Dipping Brushes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Yield:

    4

    servings

Appears in

Hot, plump, they glisten, the latkes, with pearls of fat, and they jump on the fire like newborn little babies when they are slapped with the hand. We watch the cook as though she were a magician.

“Havah, the thick latke is for me, isn’t it?”

BELLA CHAGALL, BURNING LIGHTS

Not even Merlin, though, could make the magic of a potato pancake last the full eight days of the holiday, and after a while, my search for something different turns into an obsession.

These scallion latkes, reminiscent of those savory little pancakes served as dim sum, make use of ancient Chinese wisdom. The bracing, clean flavors of ginger, vinegar, and soy provide a sparkling antidote to the oily richness, as well as welcome respite from the ubiquitous sour cream. Of course, if you prefer, you can still serve the latkes with sour cream or yogurt cream.

Ingredients

Scallion Brushes

  • 10–12 thin scallions
  • Ice water

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice, Chinese black, or cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Asian toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • Chili oil to taste (optional)

Latkes

  • 2–2½ bunches of scallions, white and light green parts, trimmed and thinly sliced ( cups)
  • 2 tablespoons mild olive or vegetable oil, plus additional oil for frying
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • teaspoons soy sauce
  • About pounds Yukon Gold or russet (baking) potatoes, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons matzoh meal or all-purpose flour

Method

  1. Make the scallion brushes. Cut off and discard the roots and all but 3 inches of the green part of the scallions. Using scissors or a small paring knife, cut slits about ½ inch deep into both sections of each scallion stalk, creating a fringe. Carefully fan out the fringed edges. Place the scallions in a bowl of ice water, and refrigerate for 2 hours or until the fringed edges curl up.
  2. Prepare the dipping sauce. Stir together all the ingredients and let the flavors mingle for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Start the latkes. In a large skillet, sauté the scallions over moderately high heat in the oil until tender and just beginning to brown at the edges. Stir in the ginger, garlic, and soy sauce, and cook, lifting and turning, for 2–3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool briefly. Make the latkes following the directions for Crispy Shallot Latkes with Sugar Dusting, stirring in the sautéed scallions instead of the shallots. (You will need salt here—the soy sauce merely flavors the scallions. Putting in enough soy sauce would make the latkes too wet. Figure about 1 teaspoon of salt.)
  4. When ready to serve, pat the scallion brushes dry. Guests should use the brushes to coat each latke with dipping sauce, then top the latke with the brush.

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