Some things just belong together. Chanukah and latkes. Jews and fermented, well, anything. Christmas and Asian food. Lucky for us, Kimchi Quesadilla Latkes have got it all!
The inspiration for this recipe came to me back in May when I visited Southern California to teach at a Jewish cooking retreat. Afterward, I battled the infamous traffic and ventured a bit north to Los Angeles to spend some quality time with my college pal Mindy. But it was more than a friendly visit, we had a mission.
Our destination was Pico Boulevard aka kosher restaurant row. Smack in the middle of LA’s Jewish neighborhood are kosher dining options from deli to Mexican.
We partook in a self-guided kosher food “schlep” noshing on everything from falafel to halva to black and white cookies. It was all amazing. Even though we shared bites, we were about as full as one is post-Yom Kippur break fast bagel. Real full.
I didn’t think I’d need to eat for days, or at least hours, but wouldn’t you know by sunset we were getting a bit snacky. When Mindy suggested hitting up the popular Kogi BBQ food truck for kimchi quesadillas, I was as in as skinny jeans at ACL.
We got a little lost, and waited nearly an hour in line for our food, but it was worth it. Chunks of sour and spicy fermented cabbage between gooey cheesy layers. Delicious, but got me thinking. Wouldn’t this flavor combination be even better betwixt two fried potato latkes? I had to try.
I’ve done some weird latke interpretations before, but this one takes the cake. You can find kimchi refrigerated in the produce sections of most supermarkets. Or try your hand at making your own. Though one Chanukah miracle may be enough.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup kimchi
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and shredded into a bowl of cold water
- 1 tablespoon yellow onions, minced
- ½ clove garlic, minced
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon chives, minced, plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
- ¼ cup oil for frying (such as canola)
- Heat a medium sauté pan oven medium heat and add butter. Once butter is melted, sauté kimchi in the butter until lightly browned and heated through. Set aside.
- Place a sieve over a large bowl. Carefully drain water from potatoes through sieve reserving the water and squeezing moisture out of the potatoes. Let the white starch settle on the bottom of the water and then pour off water, reserving the starch. Place potato mixture back into a bowl, add onions and use paper towels to ring out as much moisture as possible. This will ensure a crispy latke. Then add starch back in and mix in garlic, egg, flour, chives, sesame seeds and salt. Mix to combine.
- Heat the sauté pan back up and add oil. Once oil is hot (latke batter should sizzle when it hits the oil) add in about half of the latke mixture and flatten to a round pancake. Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and fry the other side. Let drain on paper towels.
- Repeat with remaining batter. Fry one side, then flip and top with cheese, kimchi and other latke. Fry until latke is browned on the bottom and cheese is melted. Cut in half and serve hot!