Well, it has been a while, just haven't been at the cooking thing enough lately. But, it is the holiday season, and where I grew up, this was always a mix of kids doing Hanukkah, Christmas and home cooking. One of the funny things that always struck me was the tradition that some Jewish families had, of going out for Chinese dinner on Christmas day. This dish, is an quirky way, is a synthesis of that fascination. Yes, the latke meets the wok.
I like to use an old recipe, that I found in an old issue of Bon Appetit, back when it was all about cooking. This recipe is long since altered beyond attirbution, plus, I have no idea the cook who wtote it down. I use a Microplane box grater now, which gives me wide strips of potato and a weird chunky mush of onion, which works curiously well. Anyways...
4 parts grated ribbons of potato
1 part grated onion chunky mush
1/2 part binder (properly, matzo meal, improperly, panko)
1 medium egg
Create a salty water bath, enough to cover the potatoes you are cooking. It should taste like pasta water. Grate potatoes into the brine and let sit for 15 minutes. Place in salad spinner and work until dry. Alternately, you can place the potatoes into a dish towel and wring it until dry. Immediately wash the towel or the starch will stain it lavender and gray, and not a pretty lavender and gray. Mix the next three ingredients with the now dry potatoes to make the 'batter'. It will be stiff.
Fry in 325F to 345F oil one each side, they should be golden brown and crisped. Since I prefer to shallow fry, I make then the 'batter' into balls then flatten once in the oil. Hold in a 300F oven while you finish the cooking.
The Pak Choi...
I like to use baby pak choi for this dish. By pak choi, I mean the ones with the white stems and dark green leafs. I wash and separate the stems from the leaves. I julienne the stems and set aside. The leaves are torn such that they are mostly the same size. Set these aside.
I use just a few slivers of yellow onion, sliced very thin, these need to be thin to cook fast. I also prepare shiitake mushrooms, for this dish, I wanted to use fresh mushrooms, as what I was looking for was the more delicate flavor and softer texture of small, fresh shiitake. Dried or larger ones are a little tougher and offer a stronger flavor, it is a tradeoff. Anyways...
6 to 8 baby Pak Choi, washed, stems reserved, ends trimmed
4 slices shaved from medium yellow onion
8 to 10 baby or small fresh shiitake, stemmed, washed
In a hot wok, add 2 tablespoons high heat oil (I used grapeseed) and coat wok, toss in julienned stems of pak choi, toss until wilted, add onion and mushroom, toss until onions melt and shiitake are cooked (around 3 to 4 minutes, unless you have a wok burner) toss in green parts of the Pak Choi and toss, adding 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and a little hot sesame oil. Toss for a minute and remove from wok.
Plate latkes, place greens alongside, or on top, but, that ruins the crispy latke. Then top with a fried egg. I added a little Tonkatsu Sauce, cause I love the stuff.
It was an excellent combination. The egg was probably overkill, but, added a richness and moisture and who doesn't love a fried egg? The vegetal and savory nature of the pak choi and soft texture of the mushrooms and egg worked beautifully to contrast the crispy latkes.