It’s essential to celebrate Hanukkah (Janucá) in Argentina with a batch of crispy potato latkes. My favorite Argentine-Jewish mother, chef/owner Clarisa Krivopisk of La Crespo, shows me her spin on the festive potato pancake.
“I make latkes like a Jewish mother. I don’t follow a recipe. I add a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and that’s it. Jewish cooking is simple,” Clarisa Krivopisk told me as she eyeballed salt in her hand to season a large bowl of grated potatoes and onions. La Crespo may be known for serving the best hot pastrami sandwich in Buenos Aires, but this family run Jewish deli in Villa Crespo has mastered the art of the potato pancake.
It’s tradition to ring in the Hanukkah cheer with deep fried foods, paying tribute to the importance of oil and the Menorah, which miraculously burned for eight days instead of one. At La Crespo, Clarisa not only prepares the Ashkenazi favorite to perfection during the holidays, but puts latkes on the menu all year round. “In the Old Country, our families struggled to find food for many years. Because of that, food is important to Jews. It’s part of who we are,” Clarisa said.
Unlike latke recipes in the United States, where the potato pancake is served with apple sauce and sour cream, La Crespo appeals to a more local Sephardic-Ashkenazi palate and tops the latke with something savory: a hummus dollop and slice of salmon gravlax. “Argentine Jews don’t put apple sauce on latkes, it would be way too sweet,” Clarisa explained.
The secret to La Crespo’s latkes? The technique and ingredients. “I only use high quality fresh ingredients, and I make sure to drain all the liquid out of the shredded potato and onions. It’s that simple,” Clarisa told me. “Escucháme, my grandchildren eat here, so I serve every customer as if they were family.”
- 4 large potatoes, grated
- 1 large onion, grated
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Vegetable oil for frying
Original recipe published on The Latin Kitchen