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Jalapeño Latkes, aka the Best Latkes in the World

Food and prop styling by Renee Muller Photography by Moshe Wulliger
Jalapeño Latkes, aka The Best Latkes in the World

A few short lifetimes ago, before corona was anything but the name of a beer, our family had the good fortune of spending a vacation in the beautiful town of Hollywood, Florida. We found a lovely little shul not far from the house, aptly called the SHshteeble. (The name infers that they don’t like talking in their shul.)  On Shabbos, Mr. Ephraim Sobol, the founder and benefactor of this welcoming minyan, was selling aliyos, and loudly announced that he was auctioning off the opportunity to be the beneficiary of the world’s best latkes, namely his own. My husband bid. He won, of course.

A few months later on Chanukah, we got a phone call from the creator of the world’s best latkes himself. They were fried. Ready to go. The only thing was, logistically speaking, shipping latkes over a border could be a bit challenging. Have no fear! He would freeze them and keep them for us until our next trip to the sunny skies.

We decided this (and a few blizzards) definitely warranted a second trip during winter vacation. Fast-forward to mid-February, it was Erev Shabbos, and there was a knock at the door. Mr. Sobol himself came bearing individually shrink-wrapped large-sized latkes. I unwrapped them and placed them in an open foil pan in the oven and let them warm just like that, uncovered.

It was sort of like serving Pesach cake on Shavuos, but hey, families of recipe developers are used to eating holiday foods at all the wrong times of year anyway. No one even blinked an eye when I brought out a tray of crispy hot latkes with just a hint of that spicy kick that all teenagers love. Well, we all agreed that they just might very well be the world’s best latkes.

So here we are, in the middle of a pandemic, with sunny Florida skies but a dream, but Mr. Sobol was gracious enough to share his recipe, so we can enjoy them while the snow falls around us too.

Yields 20 medium latkes

  • 5–6 large potatoes
  • 3 large onions
  • 3–4 large jalapenos (depending on heat preference)
  • ¼ cup minced garlic
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1½ cups oil (olive or other)
  • canola oil, for frying

Cut up potatoes, onions, and jalapenos and place in a NutriBullet or blender together with the minced garlic. Puree until completely smooth. Drain excess water.

Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl and add eggs, flour, salt, and olive oil. Stir until well blended. Add additional flour if the mixture is too liquidy.

Heat canola oil in a frying pan and, using a large spoon, scoop large dollops of the mixture into the heated oil. Cook for 4–5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on a rack lined with paper towels.

I recommend neither sour cream nor applesauce for these latkes; they need no assistance whatsoever.

(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 721)

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