From classic to topped with squid and kimchi, and everything in between.

By Kelsey Youngman
Updated January 02, 2020
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At Marjie's Grill in New Orleans, Hanukkah is the cue for the restaurant’s locally beloved annual festival of fried potato pancakes. For each of the Eight Nights of Latkes, chef Marcus Jacobs offers a new variation on latkes inspired by pancakes from around the world. One evening, a scallion-studded latke gets topped with barbecued duck; the next night, there’s a brisket latke with crème fraîche and dill. A perennial favorite is the bagel latke sprinkled with everything bagel spice and crowned with a smoked Gulf fish spread and scallions.

Victor Protasio

Jacobs and general manager Caitlin Carney started Eight Nights of Latkes to bring their shared Jewish heritage to the seasonal, Southeast Asian–meets–New Orleanian menu at Marjie’s. “Latkes are probably the most approachable and familiar Jewish holiday cooking,” says Jacobs. “I’ve made them my whole life.” At the restaurant, Jacobs starts with a basic latke technique, hand-grating potatoes and onions for a crisp, light, never gummy latke. His simple ratio of one onion to three potatoes is just right and makes the recipe easy to scale for celebrations of any size. Since neither the restaurant nor the chef keep kosher, not all of the suggested toppings will fit everyone’s celebration; mix and match as desired.

1. Peel and Grate Potatoes and Onion

Victor Protasio

Peel potatoes and onion; cut potatoes in half crosswise. Grate potatoes and onion on the large holes of a box grater to make long strands.

2. Drain Grated Potatoes and Onion

Victor Protasio

Transfer grated potato-onion mixture to a col‑ander placed over a large bowl; press mixture firmly to release liquid. Let stand 5 minutes.

3. Squeeze Dry

Victor Protasio

Transfer potato-onion mixture to a square of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel; twist and squeeze to remove excess liquid, and discard liquid.

4. Make the Batter

Victor Protasio

Stir together potato-onion mixture, flour, eggs, and pepper in a large bowl. Just before frying, stir in salt. (Salt draws out moisture, so adding it last ensures the mixture doesn’t become watery.)

5. Fry the Latkes

Victor Protasio

Heat 1/8 inch schmaltz in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium. Spoon 2 tablespoons batter for each latke into hot schmaltz, spacing 2 inches apart. Press lightly with a spatula to flatten.

6. Flip and Finish

Victor Protasio

Fry until golden and crisp on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Use two spatulas to carefully turn latkes; fry until crisp on other side, about 3 minutes. Drain; season with salt, and top as desired.

Get the full Master Latke Recipe here.

8 Ways to Top Your Latkes

Classic

Top each latke with about 1/2 teaspoon sour cream and 1/2 teaspoon applesauce.

Scallion Pancake

Stir about 1/2 to 2/3 cup chopped scallions or garlic scapes into potato mixture before frying. Top each fried latke with a 1-inch piece of barbecued duck, quail, or chicken.

Marjie’s Special

Top each latke with 1/2 teaspoon sour cream and 1/4 teaspoon caviar. At Marjie’s, Jacobs uses Cajun Caviar, a local Louisiana bowfin roe.

Pomegranate and Honey

Top each latke with 1 teaspoon pomegranate arils, 1/4 teaspoon honey, and a pinch of flaky sea salt.

Ricotta and Orange Marmalade

Top each latke with 1/2 teaspoon ricotta cheese and 1/2 teaspoon orange marmalade.

Everything Bagel

Omit sprinkling additional salt after frying; instead sprinkle each latke with 1/4 teaspoon everything bagel seasoning. Spread each with 1 teaspoon whitefish salad; top each with 1/2 teaspoon capers, 2 small red onion slices, and a 1-inch piece of lox.

Brisket with Crème Fraîche and Dill

Top each latke with 1/2 teaspoon crème fraîche, a 1-inch piece of smoked brisket, and a dill sprig.

Korean Seafood

Top each latke with 1 to 2 small cooked shrimp, 1 to 2 cooked squid tentacles, and a pinch of kimchi. Serve with chopped fresh chives and soy sauce or tamari for dipping.