I love the look on people’s faces when I say “South American Jew” It’s like a mix of confusion and sometimes – intrigue. Most times? Pure confusion.
Shouldn’t you be Roman Catholic?
Yes, it is possible that people from all around the world can be of different faiths. Including Italians, Indians, Ethiopians, Asians. Etc. If I’m your first “interesting” Jew…well, then, it’s nice to meet you! My mother’s side of the family is from Colombia, South America and my father’s side – Argentina. I mainly grew up surrounded by the Colombian & Jewish cultures, and I am proud of both.
While in school I always struggled by not being “Latin” enough ( My fair skin, my mixed accent, and my maiden name) or not being “Jewish” enough (not fully keeping kosher, not observing every law, and then ironically – looking “Spanish”?)
Over the years, I became more and more comfortable in my responses and prouder than ever. I know my daughter will get to learn Spanish from an early age, dance Salsa in the kitchen, all while making latkes and playing the dreidel. This year, my birthday is during Chanukah (in Hebrew) Hanukkah (English) and that just means one more reason to celebrate!
I hope I do dance salsa with my daughter in the kitchen, play the dreidel and make more of these delicious latkes. They are a nod to my South American background and use a non traditional ingredient: Green plantains. For Chanukah – or any time of year, these are a tad sweet, crunchy and delicious when dipped in a garlicky sauce.
Latkes De Plátano + Salsa De Ajo (Plaintain Latkes + Garlic Sauce)
Makes approx 12 latkes
Salsa De Ajo:
- 2 Tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped (I also added fresh dill because I had it on hand and it was surprisingly good )
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 Green Plantain, shredded *To peel the plantain, cut a slit down the entire side -shown in the picture above. If it is not very ripe, and difficult to peel this way, you can drop them in boiling water for a few seconds and that should help.
- 1 small onion, shredded
- 1 small russet potato, shredded (can omit and double the plantain)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tbsp red or green pepper, shredded
- Salt, pepper & enough vegetable oil to pan fry. *Start with less than you think. If the latkes are thin, they will crisp up in a small amount of oil and you will get the result without making them soggy.
- While your garlic sauce is sitting, mix all latke ingredients in a bowl and mix well. On a very low flame, heat a frying pan with vegetable oil (start with a low, even layer across the entire pan)
- Next, wring out the latke mixture in a kitchen towel, a little bit at a time to remove excess liquid. *this step makes them crispier and they come out better, but they will still be delicious if you skip this step. Just make sure they are thinner, and smaller, so they cook faster.
- Make small little mounds into the hot oil (raise the heat to medium) and cook until golden brown on one side. (picture above)
- Blot on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.