Michele Young-Stone lives in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with her husband and son and is the author of two novels. Her newest, Above Us Only Sky, is out now from sister company Simon & Schuster and available wherever books are sold.
When I think potato pancake, I think about Mom’s leftover mashed potatoes. She’d fry them in a pan the morning after Thanksgiving or Christmas. A little flour and egg held the buttery cakes together. Mom’s were the best, but there are more, lots more.
The potato pancake is an international sensation, found in cuisine all over the world, from Vietnam to Lithuania and everywhere in between. India, Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine, Germany, India, Russia and Ireland all have a variation of this recipe. Here are just a few iterations you might want to try.
The key to every potato pancake, regardless of nationality, is lack of moisture. You want to use cheesecloth or paper towels to strain any water from the potato, the dryer the better. This is what makes the fried cake crispy. If you want it sweet, serve with mango, jam or applesauce. For savory, serve with sour cream, a pepper jelly or spicy mustard. The sky is the limit.
Here is a simple recipe to get you started.
Makes four potato pancakes
- 4 potatoes
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 c. cooking oil
- salt, pepper, and any other spices you’d like
- Grate your potato and using cheesecloth or paper towel, strain the liquid from the potato.
- Mix potato, egg and flour together. You may need to increase the amount of flour if the mixture is too watery.
- In a skillet, heat ¼ inch oil over medium high heat.
- Drop about ¼ cup of mixture into the oil for each cake.
- Turn cakes once, making both sides golden brown.
- Remove from heat and let the oil drain on paper towels.
- Keep the cakes in a warm oven until you’re ready to serve.
- Jewish Latke– Made with grated potato, flour, and egg and sometimes spiced with onion or garlic. Delicious!
- Lithuanian Bulviniai Blynai– Most often served with sour cream, and you don’t want to use a food processor with this treat. You want a Lithuanian grater like your Grandmother used to use.
- Polish Placki Ziemniaczane– These potato cakes can be served salty or sweet.
- India’s Aloo Paratha– Most often eaten for breakfast.
- Vietnamese Cha Khoai Tay– Lemongrass and curry powder are essential to making the Vietnamese potato pancake.