Latkes, latkas or kartoffelpuffer… it's all the same dish: the mighty potato pancake. Not the same as hash browns, they look similar, since both dishes are based upon fried, grated potatoes. The big difference is that the potato pancake employs eggs as well, while hash browns are usually used as a side dish to eggs (or other staples).
Though "Latkes" are served during Hanukkah, they are not generally recognized as Jewish in origin. Some imaginative variations on the potato pancake have been fostered through this pleasant custom, using zucchini, apple, spinach, rice, leeks, mashed potatoes and cheese. But usually the mighty potato pancake is simply made from grated potatoes, egg and grated onion, fried in a pan with oil.
DOWN-HOME POTATO PANCAKES
(The Authentic Mighty Potato Pancake Recipe)
Makes 6 potato pancakes
Put two cups grated potatoes and one medium grated onion into a strainer to drain excess liquid into a bowl beneath the strainer. After the starch settles, pour off the water and return the starch back to the potatoes mix. (Leftover mashed potatoes can be substituted with reasonable success.) Scald ¼ cup of milk and pour over the mix, then add one beaten egg. Sift 2 tablespoons flour with salt, pepper and parsley to taste and a teaspoon of baking powder. Heat up about an inch of oil in your pan and drop the mixture into the hot fat, frying on both sides till golden. Drain the pancakes on paper towels before serving.
Potatoes are, of course, mighty all over the world. Here is an interesting recipe for potato pancakes from Korea:
KOREAN POTATO PANCAKES
Use Red Potatoes, for an exotic touch!
Makes 8 small pancakes
1. First, peel 225 grams of red potatoes (about a half a pound or a quarter of a kilo) and place them in water, which will prevent them from becoming discolored. Peel and chop 25 grams of onion (almost an ounce). Mix 1-1/2 tablespoons of corn flour with salt to taste, beat one egg and set these aside.
2. Grate the potatoes into a pulpy mixture, then add all the other ingredients and stir well. Be sure to cook the pancakes right away, or they will turn a disagreeably dark color.
3. Grease your pan and heat it up on medium. Spread the potato mixture into the hot oil and tamp it down a bit with a spoon. Cook the pancake till golden brown, flip and cook the other side. (Some pans will allow you to cook more than one pancake at a time.)
You can also try any of these spices to make this recipe: Ginger, Green Chilis, Garlic or ½ teaspoon of Tumeric. For an authentic Korean Dipping Sauce, combine in a bowl: 1 clove garlic, 1 chopped up spring onion, 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and a tablespoon each of sesame oil, sugar and roasted sesame seeds.
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