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Easy Kimchi Latkes

Our easy Kimchi Latkes recipe adds a Korean twist to the traditional Jewish holiday food favorite. Once you make these creative pancakes for your Hanukkah celebration, you’ll want to eat them all year round.

Cut Kimchi Latke with Gochujang Sour Cream
This isn’t your grandmother’s latke. Our Korean twist takes it to another level.

Kimchi latkes represent the evolution of our culinary journey.

We both grew up eating potato latkes each December during Hanukkah celebrations in Atlanta (Mindi) and Philadelphia (Daryl). We each helped our mothers grate potatoes and chop onions as part of the traditional latkes recipe that also includes eggs and flour. Then we’d eat the latkes topped with either applesauce or sour cream.

Fast forward to the future. After marrying in 2007, we later became nomadic in 2016 and didn’t celebrate Hanukkah for three years while we were on the road, though we ate plenty of Asian food. After we moved to Lisbon, we discussed creating an Asian pantry for a year but, as happens, we were too busy traveling to follow through on that plan.

Three Kimchi Latkes with Gochujang Sour Cream
One potato is enough to make four kimchi latkes. Somebody must have eaten the fourth latke before this photo was taken but we’re not saying who it was.

Then came 2020. Once we were grounded by the global pandemic, Daryl fulfilled his dream by purchasing a carbon steel wok and filling our cabinets with sauces and spices from China, Korea, Japan and Thailand. And now we’re ready to celebrate Hanukkah yet again.

What Are Latkes?

Kimchi Latke
Typically paired with sour cream or applesauce, latkes are a key part of any Hanukkah celebration.

Latkes are fried potato pancakes that Jewish people have been eating as part of the annual Hanukkah celebration for centuries. The traditional latke recipe includes onions, flour and eggs in addition to potatoes. Recipe variations include ingredients like sweet potatoes, beans and cheese.

Our latke recipe contemplates these traditions but takes a left turn. Not only do we add kimchi, but we also incorporate a non-traditional cooking method recently introduced in Joan Nathan’s “Pure Potato Latkes” recipe in the New York Times.

After following her recipe and topping the resulting potato latkes with sour cream and smoked salmon, we agreed that Nathan’s recipe was nothing short of a latke game changer. However, adding kimchi and dollops of gochujang sour cream is our Asian twist to this modern latke recipe.

What Is Kimchi?

Kimchi in White Prep Bowl
Homemade kimchi gives an extra zing to many dishes including latkes.

Anybody who has previously eaten Korean food has probably eaten kimchi. The fermented vegetable dish is an integral part of Korean cuisine.

Some over-achieving cooks create their own kimchi by fermenting vegetables like cabbage, carrots and radishes along with Korean spices like gochugaru to make kimchi in their home kitchens. Others buy the Korean food staple at Asian food markets or online. As for us, we were gifted a jar of homemade kimchi from the owners of our favorite Lisbon pizza joint, Tozzi.

→ Click here to order a jar of kimchi from Amazon.

Kimchi Latkes Ingredients

Kimchi Latke Ingredients
The mis en place for this kimchi latkes recipe includes potatoes, kimchi, freshly ground black pepper, salt, vegetable oil, sour cream and gochujang. Not pictured: optional herbs like chives or scallions.

We like to create easy recipes and this one is no exception. Accordingly, our kimchi latkes recipe only requires the following ingredients:

  • 2 Russet Potatoes
  • Kimchi
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Sour Cream
  • Gochujang

Pro Tip
Though not required, herbs like chives or scallions add a nice touch.

How to Make Kimchi Latkes

Cutting Potatoes
We used a Japanese chef’s knife to slice Portuguese potatoes for this Korean-inspired Jewish recipe.

Making kimchi latkes is both easy and fun. The process starts with baking two russet potatoes in the oven. The next step is to slice the baked potatoes in half.

Grating a Potato
Hand grating potatoes is both quick and efficient with no need to wash a food processor.

Once the potatoes are cut, the next step is to grate the flesh of the spuds using a large grate setting. We use a box grater to grate our potatoes.

As always, we’re careful not to cut ourselves, using the flat palm of our hands against the skin of the potato during the grating process.

Kimchi Latke Ingredients in Mixing Bowl
Mixing the kimchi latke ingredients is an easy but necessary step in this recipe.

You’ll just need a medium mixing bowl and a spoon to mix the grated potatoes with chopped kimchi, salt and freshly ground pepper.

While we recommend adding both salt and pepper to your personal taste, there’s no need to add too much of either since kimchi provides a funky burst of umami.

Pro Tip
A good pinch of kosher salt will do if you’re unsure about the quantity.

Raw Kimchi Latke
Daryl did an excellent job of forming our kimchi latkes.

The next step is where the fun comes into play. This is when you literally roll up your sleeves and form the latkes.

Although this step only takes a few minutes, the kimchi latkes need to chill in the refrigerator for at least four hours but no more than 24 hours before the step that elevates these Korean potato pancakes to Golden Brown Delicious (GBD) status.

Taking Temperature of Oil in Frying Pan
350 is the magic number in this recipe. Not only is it the temperature for cooking the potatoes, but it’s also the temperature for frying the kimchi potato pancakes.

You guessed it. After waiting four to 24 hours, it’s now time to fry the pancakes. But first you need to heat the vegetable oil on high until it reaches 350°F or 175°C in temperature.

Pro Tip
Use an instant read thermometer to achieve the correct temperature.

Raw Kimchi Latkes in Frying Pan
Sizzle Sizzle Sizzle. Frying latkes is a major event in the Hirsch house during the holidays.

Upon reaching 350°/175°, drop the latkes in right away and keep the heat on high. The temperature of the oil will drop.

Pro Tip
We recommend cast iron for frying latkes because of its non-stick properties. However, any thick metal skillet should work.

Cooked Kimchi Latkes in Frying Pan
Hooray! Our kimchi latkes achieved GBD status.

Once the oil climbs back to 350°/175°, the bottom side of the pancakes should be brown. If you’re using a stainless steel skillet, as we did, the bottom of the pancakes should release from the pan without sticking.

Pro Tip
Fry four kimchi latkes at a time. This will give you adequate space when you flip each with a spatula.

Two Kimchi Latkes on Drying Rack
Is it just us or are these kimchi latkes beautiful?

You’ll be tickled pink with the final product though you’ll be tempted to eat the kimchi latkes before they cool on a rack. Don’t do it. You’ll also want to add dollops of gochujang sour cream before you take your first bite. That you should do.

Gochujang Sour Cream

Gochujang Sour Cream
Gouchujang sour cream provides an extra kick to our kimchi latkes.

Gouchujang, another Korean ingredient, makes our recipe pop. With respect to tradition, we mix the pungent red chili paste with sour cream, a staple of Eastern European cuisines. Daryl originally proposed mixing applesauce with sesame oil but Mindi thought he went a little too far down the Jewish-Korean rabbit hole with that rejected idea.

We highly recommend using gouchujang since it completes this recipe. If you don’t have any in your pantry, you can always order a tub online. Sour cream should be easy to find at most grocery stores.

→ Click here to order a tub of gouchujang from Amazon.

Four Kimchi Latkes with Gochujang Sour Cream
Chives added an extra touch of color when we plated these tasty kimchi latkes.

We also recommend pairing kimchi latkes with an amber craft beer, though any beverage will work. And don’t forget to eat donuts for dessert since the sweet treat is another traditional Hanukkah food favorite.

Kimchi Latkes with Gochujang Sour Cream Recipe

Kimchi Latke with Gochujang Sour Cream with Marble Background

Kimchi Latkes with Gochujang Sour Cream

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Our easy Kimchi Latkes recipe adds a Korean twist to the Jewish holiday food favorite.

Ingredients

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup kimchi, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • pepper freshly ground to taste
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons gochujang
  • chives, scallops or other herb, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F or 175°C.
  2. Cook potatoes on oven rack for 30 minutes. Flip potatoes and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  3. Remove potatoes from oven and let them cool for 30 minutes or until they're cool enough to handle.
  4. Split potatoes in half and grate the fleshy side of each half.
  5. Mix grated potatoes, kimchi, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl.
  6. Use your hands to form eight medium-sized kimchi latkes.
  7. Refrigerate kimchi latkes for 4 to 24 hours.
  8. Just before you're ready to fry the kimchi latkes, combine sour cream and gochujang in a small bowl. Stir until incorporated and set aside.
  9. Pour 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch layer of vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet and heat to 350°F or 175°C. (Use probe thermometer to determine temperature.) Gently lay four kimchi latkes in the hot oil. Let kimchi latkes cook until the bottoms brown and release from the surface of the pan. (Oil temperature should recover to 350°F or 175°C.) Use spatula and a spoon to gently flip kimchi latkes. Once second side is brown, remove kimchi latkes and place on cooling rack. Repeat the process for the remaining kimchi latkes.
  10. Plate fried kimchi latkes and add a small dollop of gochujang sour cream mixture to each.
  11. Optional - Sprinkle chopped chives, scallion or other herb garnish.

Notes

  • We were inspired to create this recipe after reading Joan Nathan's Pure Potato Latkes recipe in the New York Times.
  • You can double this recipe for four people. Alternatively, you can cut it in half for one person.
  • You can adjust the amount of gochujang based on your tolerance for heat.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 304Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 851mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 7g

Nutrition Disclosure: We used an online calculator to calculate this information. Though 2foodtrippers.com has attempted to secure accurate data, these nutritional figures are estimates.

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Try our recipe for Avocado Egg Toast with Chili Crisp.

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About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclosure

We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Nick

Saturday 19th of December 2020

Just made this with my wife and we loved it. The gochujang sour cream is the finishing touch. Thanks for sharing!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Thanks Nick!! We're glad to hear that you enjoyed the recipe and hope that you're surviving this challenging year.

Gochujang is one Korea's greatest contributions to the culinary world. I (Daryl) remember working an event called StarChefs in NYC featuring some of the best chefs in the world and, at the event, every chef received a swag bag that included a tub of gochujang. Mindi loved it.

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