We love a good classic latke, don't get us wrong. But if we're really honest, the plain potato pancake trotted out each Hanukkah could use a little refresher. So we introduced it to a Chinese scallion pancake. The result is a scallion- and sesame-loaded potato mix, held together with panko and made superbly crispy with the help of sesame oil. The recipe makes one large latke that's easily sliced like pizza to feed a party.
And while we were at it, we thought latkes' typical accompaniments, applesauce and sour cream, could use little refresh, too. So we added Asian pear and star anise to our apples and laced our sour cream with some spicy sambal.
When cooking the latke, use a fish spatula to help loosen it from the skillet before flipping, so that you don't scuff its perfectly deep golden crust.
Latkes will never be the same.
Scallion Pancake Latke with Asian Pear-Apple Sauce
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: One 12-inch scallion pancake latke
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
For the Asian Pear-Apple Sauce:
2 medium Pink Lady apples—peeled, seeded and chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 large Asian pear—peeled, seeded and chopped into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
2 star anise
For the Sambal Sour Cream:
¾ cup sour cream
1¼ teaspoons sambal
For the Scallion Latke:
2¼ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and shredded (2 medium russet potatoes)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
¾ cup thinly sliced scallions, white parts only (from about 5½ ounces scallions)
⅓ cup panko bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil or schmaltz
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
1½ teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons roasted black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions, green parts only
1. Make the pear-apple sauce: In a large saucepan, combine the apple and pear pieces, lemon juice, water and star anise. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, occasionally mashing the fruit until they form a thick compote, 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Makes 2 cups of pear-apple sauce and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
2. While the sauce is cooking, make the sambal sour cream: In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and sambal. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
3. Make the latke: On a large, clean kitchen towel, toss the shredded potatoes with 1½ teaspoons of salt. Wrap in a bundle, twisting the top to close, and wring out the potato liquid over a large bowl. Discard the liquid and wipe the bowl clean, then transfer the shredded potatoes to it, along with the scallions, panko bread crumbs, egg and remaining salt, and stir to combine.
4. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the canola oil. When the oil is rippling hot, add the latke mixture in 1 even layer. Don't press down. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of sesame oil around the inside edge of the skillet where it meets the latke. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the bottom is deep golden brown and crispy, 15 minutes.
5. Cover the skillet with a large inverted plate and turn the pan over to transfer the latke onto the plate. Slide the latke back into the skillet, cooked-side up, and drizzle the remaining sesame oil using the same method as before. Cook until deep golden brown and crispy, 15 minutes more.
6. Slide the latke onto a cutting board and evenly drizzle the soy sauce over the top. Garnish with the black sesame seeds and green scallions. Cut into wedges and serve with the pear-apple sauce and sambal sour cream.