I have very strong opinions on potato pancakes or kartoffelpuffer (or reibekuchen) as we call them in German. My grandmother used to make them for us and I was often allowed to help her grating the potatoes and onions for the batter. Of course, my grandmother made the best kartoffelpuffer in the world! I remember eating them with sugar and apple sauce and feeling very happy.
My grandmother died ten years ago and I was never able develop a vegan version of her potato pancakes which were made with eggs. Of course my mother (and my dad) make pancakes which are very close to my grandmother’s and I should probably just have asked my mom. But I never did because to me, the potato pancakes are connected to nobody else but my grandmother. Okay, end of nostalgic family history trip, fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I came home to a plate of potato pancakes.
P, who only met my grandmother once or twice and probably never ate her potato pancakes, had decided to make dinner for me. And guess what, P. is the reincarnation of my Oma when it comes to kartoffelpuffer.
His recipe is the easiest recipe in the world. Forget egg replacers, forget binding agents, forget starches. Just potatoes, onions, salt. The most important step in this recipe is to grate the potatoes very finely. They need to be half mashed half grated. And the potato liquid has to removed with the help of a kitchen towel. That is all.
I loved them so much that P. had to make them a second time. We didn’t eat them with apple sauce (But I swear, we will do this soon). Instead we decided to go for a savoury version with Terry’s chorizo (from Viva Vegan) and olive sour cream.
P. grated 700 g (1.6 lb) of potatoes and two onions. It is important to use a very fine grater, so the potatoes will release their liquid. It should look like this:
After grating the potatoes and onions, P. transferred the mixture to a kitchen towel and pressed out as much liquid as possible. The mass was almost dry:
Now season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium heat and lightly spray with oil. That is right. These pancakes won’t require much fat. If you want them really crispy and greasy though, feel free to fry them in more oil.
Slowly fry them until brown on each side. We served them with Terry’s awesome chorizo from Viva Vegan. I made steamed mini sausages by dividing the dough into 16 equal pieces and steaming them for 30 minutes. I let them cool down and fried them in a tablespoon of oil.
Also on the plate: mushrooms and olive sour cream. The sour cream is a wonderfully versatile dip, similar to the tofu fraîche, but even more flavourful.
Olive sour cream
130 g (4.6 oz) firm or super-firm tofu
55 g (1/4 cup) vegan mayonnaise
90 g (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) soy yoghurt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons lime juice
20 scrapes nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 black olives, pitted
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to one week.
Now I wonder what my Oma would have said. Did your grandmother cook for you? And if she did, what was your favourite food? have you ever veganized it?