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“Paj-kes” – Korean Latkes

By: 
Becky Jaye
pajkes

Growing up, my mother made these latkes for our family during Hanukkah. They were such a hit that we started serving them at all of our holiday gatherings, including Thanksgiving dinner and family parties. Her recipe includes elements of pajeon, a Korean potato pancake often made with scallions and other vegetables. Pajeon is sometimes served as a single, large pancake, cut into smaller pieces for a family to share.

As we made pajeon and latkes over the years, I realized that they started to become more like one another – and eventually, the two met in the middle! These latkes, for me, represent the harmonious integration of two cultures and traditions brought together by a common love for food and one another.

In this recipe, I’ve added my own spin (carrots!) to the pajeon/latke amalgamation that has filled my family's tummies and hearts with love for decades. When I eat these latkes – or paj-kes, as I call them – I think of the beauty of my parents' worlds coming together, and how each has highlighted the best attributes of two cultures I am immensely proud to call my own.

Cook Time: 45min | Makes 20 to 30 paj-kes (depending on size of medallions)
Ingredients: 
5 lb. shredded Idaho potatoes
2 large, shredded sweet yellow onions
6-7 shredded orange carrots
3 bunches of scallions, quartered length-wise and sliced diagonally in lengths of 1 to 1.5”
5 eggs
1.5 cups Korean pajeon potato pancake flour, for example, Beksul Korean Pancake Mix, available in Asian grocery stores and online (Note: You may substitute the same amount of regular flour, though your pancakes will be less like pajeon and more like latke
3 tbsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp of rice vinegar
Minced garlic, chopped scallions, and sesame seeds to your liking
Directions: 
  1. Combine all shredded vegetables, keeping any liquids that come about from the shredding process in the mixture. The starches will help the shape and form of the latke stay put.
  2. Add eggs. Fold in flour and seasoning with hands until all is incorporated.
  3. Heat generous amount of frying oil (e.g. avocado or vegetable oil) in a deep frying pan. Spoon out latke recipe into oil once it is heated. Make medallions roughly 3-4” in diameter, or the size of your palm. Fry until golden brown on both sides.
  4. Serve warm with optional accompanying sauce. These latkes also pair well with kimchi or sour cream and chopped scallions.
  5. Enjoy to your heart's content, and share with love. Happy Hanukkah!

Want more from Becky? Check out “Kimchi and Latkes,” our interview with her on the podcast Wholly Jewish.

Becky Jaye is from Brooklyn, N.Y. and is a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. She completed her B.A. in American studies and creative non-fiction writing at Yale College and, after working as a Yale-China Association Teaching Fellow in Zhuhai, China, for two years, continued her studies at Yale Divinity School, where she completed an M.A. in religion, focusing her studies on interfaith dialogue and Sephardic Jewry.

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