When it comes to traditional Jewish food, people love to grouse about how it's really only worth eating when it's made traditionally. These are the same people who wax poetic about how it's impossible to find a good bagel outside of New York. "It's the water," they'll tell you. "You can't replicate New York City water."
Well I live in San Francisco and my water comes from the Hetch Hetchy dam, and it somehow produces Marla Bakery's bagels, which are the best I've ever had, in or outside of New York City. And speaking of defying tradition, I also happen to prefer sweet potato latkes to traditional potato ones.
I bring the heat to these latkes with straight-up sriracha (though you could use your favorite hot sauce) and my new favorite ingredient: sweet-hot chilies, also known as peppadews. I also add in one Russet potato, for extra starch, which helps make for crispy latkes.
It's also important to fry the latkes in a decent amount of oil. Like, more oil than you think you need. It's not deep-frying, exactly, but it's not not deep-frying. Medium-heat oil is best. It cooks the latkes evenly and thoroughly.
Draining the latkes well helps make for an even crispier exterior.
Keeping them warm in the oven encourages even more crispness, so these can even be made ahead of time. Just make sure you don't stack them. Stacking leads to sogginess.
Then just plate 'em up, put out bowls of applesauce and sour cream (see recipe for details), and crank up your favorite Hanukkah tunes. Happy Hanukkah!
2 medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, shredded (leave the skin on)
1 medium Russet potato, shredded (skin on)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sriracha (or more to taste)
5 green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
about 8 sweet-hot chilies (also known as peppadews), chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
vegetable, peanut, grapeseed, or coconut oil, for frying
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Spread the shredded potato and sweet potato on a clean dish towel.
Sprinkle with the salt, and let sit for 10 minutes (this helps release the moisture in the potatoes, which yields a crisper latke).
Gather up the corners of the dish towel, hold over a sink, and twist to squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the potatoes.
Transfer the potatoes to a mixing bowl.
Add the pepper, sriracha, green onions, and chilies and mix well with your hands or a wooden spoon.
Stir in the eggs and mix well.
Stir in the flour and mix well.
Cover a couple of large baking sheets with paper towels, newspaper or parchment paper. Set near the stove.
Pour 1/2 inch of oil into a large nonstick or cast-iron frying pan (or 2, if you are cooking a large batch and want to speed things up). I know it seems like a lot, but you'll need it.
Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees (if you don't have a thermometer, let the oil heat up until you think it's hot enough, then make a little test latke. If it browns nicely, it's ready).
Wet your hands with cool water, then form a little patty, using about 1/4 cup latke batter. Press it together in your palm to make sure it's cohesive.
Carefully slide the patty into the bubbling oil.
Working in small batches (you don't want to overcrowd the pan), repeat with the remaining batter. Depending on the size of your pan, you'll likely cook 5-6 latkes at a time.
Cook the latkes for 2-3 minutes per side, or until they are golden-brown and crispy. Don't be tempted to turn up the heat and rush the process—you'll get latkes that are burnt on the outside and raw inside. Add more oil as necessary.
Once the latkes have finished cooking, transfer them with a spatula to the prepared baking sheets. Once the sheets have filled up, transfer them to the oven to keep them hot.
Serve the latkes hot with applesauce and sour cream.