Celebrating Hanukkah With Latkes

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - November 28, 2007
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Chef David Koerner
Chef David Koerner

Meghan Goldman Buck has access to lots of recipes, since her mother is noted local cookbook author Sally Parker. When she decided to celebrate Hanukkah this year and draw on her late father Monte Goldman’s Jewish heritage, she needed to put out the call for instructions on how to make potato latkes.

These pancakes are a customary treat for the holiday, which commemorates the victory by the Maccabees over the Greeks, and their rededication of the temple in Jerusalem. When they sought to light the Temple’s menorah, they found only enough olive oil to last a single day, but miraculously the oil burned for eight days.

In commemoration of this miracle, the festival of Hanukkah was instituted.

The use of oil, in which the pancakes are fried, attests to the origin of the holiday, which is celebrated for eight nights starting Dec. 4.

Chef David Koerner, whose local credits ranged from positions at the Hilton Hawaiian Village to working for Sodexho at Saint Francis Medical Center, now lives in North Carolina with wife Debbie. A contemporary of Meghan’s, Chef David came to the rescue with his recipe for latkes.

Being attuned to health issues and now working for Sodexho in various Southern hospitals, Chef David says to put oil in a spray bottle instead of deep frying. Regardless of how you make them, potato latkes are a Hanukkah favorite.

This recipe is dedicated to Meghan, husband David and their precocious daughter Sylvia, as well as all the family members who will enjoy them during the “Feast of Lights.” It uniquely combines many kinds of potatoes and has a local twist.

To prepare the potatoes, scrub well; remove eyes and any traces of green.

Stored in a cool, dark and dry place, potatoes can keep for up to two months. Avoid storing in plastic bags, which increases the possibility of mold. Potatoes also may be kept in a well-ventilated area of the refrigerator.

About 20 percent of the potato is composed of an indigestible starch that is converted to sugar when cooked.

Happy Hanukkah!



* 3 cups grated sweet potato
* 3 cups grated Okinawan purple sweet potato
* 3 cups grated white potato
* 3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
* 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
* 1/2 cup Egg Beaters 99-Percent Egg Substitute
* 1 tablespoon canola oil

Mix all ingredients, except oil. In a skillet, heat oil; add 1/8 of potato mixture in a small circle and fry until brown and crispy on both sides. Repeat using all of mixture.

Serve immediately.

Makes four servings, two pancakes per serving.

Traditional garnishes include applesauce, sour cream or jelly.


(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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