According to some, latkes originated in Eastern Europe, while others claim they evolved from Italian ricotta pancakes. Regardless, these potato fritters are made by home cooks for Hanukah in Israel and around the world. The ideal latke is plump and creamy on the inside and crispy and lacy on the outside. To get them that way, you need to squeeze out as much water as you can from the potatoes but re-incorporate the potato starch (with binding ingredients), and fry the patties in hot fat. To reheat, place the fritters on a wire rack on a baking tray and reheat for 3 to 5 minutes at 220 °C (425 °F).
Line one tray with a double layer of paper towels. Place a place a wire rack on a second tray. Set aside.
Shred the potatoes on the coarse side of a four-sided grater or using a food processor’s grating disc. Gather the shreds into a tea towel and squeeze out the liquid into a bowl, until the potatoes are dry—the more liquid you drain off, the crisper your latkes will be. Put the dried shreds into a second bowl and mix in the onions. If you’re concerned about the potatoes greying, mix with the cream of tartar.
In a few minutes, the bowl of potato water will separate into starch and reddish-brown water. Carefully pour off the water and stir the remaining starch into the potato mixture. Fold in salt, pepper and matzo meal. Add the beaten egg and mix again until fully incorporated.
Heat 1 cm (about ½-inch) of oil into a pan (cast iron, preferably) over medium-high heat until hot. Test both the oil temperature and the mixture by dropping a spoon of the mixture into oil. The oil is the correct temperature if the batter bubbles and fries immediately. If the shreds don’t hold together, add a little potato starch (about a ½-teaspoon) to the batter. Balance flavour to taste.
Scoop 60 ml (¼-cup) of batter and place into the oil and flatten slightly. Add more patties to the pan without overcrowding. Fry until golden (about 4 minutes on each side). Drain on the paper towels before placing on the wire rack. Let the oil return to temperature (and top up with additional oil, if necessary) before frying the next batch.