Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sweet Potato and Kimchi Pancakes

The genesis behind this dish was that I wanted to make sweet potatoes latkes.  I'm not sure why I wanted to make sweet potato latkes, but I did.  I guess it stems from the latkes I had the other night at a friend's apartment on the last night of Hanukkah.  I tend to forget just how much I like latkes until I stumble across them somewhere.  So I started looking for recipes for sweet potato latkes online and found this recipe instead by Andrea Reusing.  Andrea is the chef at my all time favorite restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC - a place called Lantern Restaurant.  Sweet potato pancakes with kimchi?  Sounds delicious to me.  They're not exactly latkes, but that's ok.  Because they are super delicious.  The flavors of the sweet potatoes and the kimchi work brilliantly together.  My only complaint about the pancakes was that the batter was wet enough that it was pretty difficult to get the pancakes nice and crispy.  The texture was a little soggy.  Plus you had to be really gentle with the pancakes while forming and flipping them because the batter was so wet.  But on the plus side, I really don't think the flavor of the pancakes themselves could have been improved at all.  They were a little sweet and a little spicy, with great balance and freshness.  The sweetness and slight acidity of the Soy Vinegar Dipping Sauce really worked with the pancakes.  Pancakes and latkes both suffer from an inherent heaviness and doughiness, but somehow these pancakes avoided that trap.  Man I have to go back to Chapel Hill to eat at Lantern Restaurant again.    Andrea Reusing really knows her stuff.

Recipe after the jump!

Sweet Potato and Kimchi Pancakes
Adapted from Gourmet
October 2008
    1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
    1 cup packed kimchi (7 ounces), very thinly sliced and excess moisture squeezed out
    1 1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
    1 to 2 tbsp chopped fresh serrano or jalapeno chiles (including seeds; amount depends on heat of kimchi)
    1 cup thinly sliced scallions (from 1 large bunch)
    1 large egg, lightly beaten
    1 tsp kosher salt
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    About 1/2 cup canola oil
    Soy Vinegar Dipping Sauce (see recipe below)
    Stir potato together with remaining ingredients except oil. Let mixture stand at room temperature until wilted and moist, about 5 minutes, then stir again.
    Heat 2 tbsp oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Filling a 1/3-cup measure halfway full with potato mixture for each pancake and working in batches of 4-5, tap out into oil, gently flattening pancakes with a spatula to about 1/4 inch thick. Cook until golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Flip, adding a little more oil if necessary, and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep the pancakes warm in a 250 degree oven while you cook remaining pancakes. Add oil to skillet between batches as needed.

    Serve warm, with dipping sauce.

    Soy Vinegar Dipping Sauce
    October 2008
    1/3 cup tamari (preferably San-J brand)
    2 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
    1 tbsp sugar
    4 tsp rice vinegar (not seasoned)
    2 tbsp water
    1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
      Stir together all ingredients until sugar has dissolved.

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