Waste-not Ginger-Scallion Potato "Not-kes"

By • September 3, 2013 2 Comments

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Author Notes: Full of flavor--even eaten cold the next day--these mashed-potato cakes have been under construction for some time, and here is the fine-tuned and yummy result. Cilantro, ginger, scallions and garlic add full flavor, while mustard seeds add crunch. You need to follow the directions closely as to the adding of the flour and the way they are fried--this batter wants respect. If you do, however, you will be rewarded at first bite (note that the first batch is a little tricky to flip, but subsequent batches will brown beautifully as you get the hang of it).

This recipe came about when I had one or two baked potatoes and half a package of fresh peas that I didn't want to go to waste. I had just made Panfusine's delicious "ramp-tramp potatoes", a family favorite, the night before (http://food52.com/recipes/11724-ramps-fingerling-potatoes-curry-an-indian-ramp-tramp-contagion), and a printout of anu's recipe for Poha with Potatoes and Peas (http://food52.com/recipes/7180-poha-with-potatoes-and-peas) lay on the counter as inspiration; finally Madhur Jaffrey's spicy tomato sauce from her book, World of the East Vegetarian Cooking, with its fragrant mustard seeds, garlic, ginger, and cilantro, was kicking around in my head. Whether eaten by themselves with a squirt of lime juice or with the condiments listed, these griddle cakes are what we call P.D.G --Pretty Darn Good--at our house.


Makes about 26 3-inch griddle cakes

  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced and mashed
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 small fresh hot red or green peppers, seeded, the ribs removed, minced
  • 4-5 scallions, minced (the white part and some of the green)
  • a pinches salt
  • 1/2 cup steamed fresh or frozen peas
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, minced
  • 2 large russet potatoes, 11-14 oz. raw weight, baked and cooled (preferably day-old)
  • 2 cups cooked red or black quinoa, drained very well and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek or Bulgarian yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4-7 tablespoons all-purpose flour, or more or less, as needed to bind batter
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • safflower oil for frying
  • Plain yogurt and chipotle salsa or harissa thinned with lemon juice or other hot sauce as accompaniments
  • lime wedges as an accompaniment
  1. In a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, heat 2-3 tablespoons oil over a medium flame. Add mustard seeds and, when they begin to sizzle and pop, add garlic and ginger, shallot and red pepper. Adjust heat to medium-low, and saute until softened and fragrant; shallot should be just transparent and pepper brightly colored. Add scallion and the pinch of salt, saute until fragrant. Add peas, stir for just a few seconds until peas are warmed through, then remove from heat and add cilantro. Scrape mixture into a bowl and set aside to cool a little. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel.
  2. Scoop flesh from baked potatoes into a medium bowl and mash with a potato masher. Reserve the shell of the potato for another use (or brush with oil, season with salt, dried herbs, garlic powder, and hot red or regular ground black pepper and toast in the oven until crisp as a snack for the chef). Add quinoa--it must be very well drained or the pankcakes will fall-apart--yogurt and pea mixture to potatoes and fold in. Add salt and taste for seasoning, adding more salt as needed. Add eggs to potatoes and fold in. Add flour by tablespoons. Flour should bind the ingredients, so add more if needed; squeeze a small fistful until it sticks together to check. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in same skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking (toss in a tiny bit of potato mixture--it should sizzle). Fry in batches (do not crowd pan) forming mounds of about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of batter. Flatten gently and gracefully with back of spoon as if putting the dimples in cake frosting--the batter wants to stick. Saute until well-browned and crisp on edges, adjusting flame as needed--oil should bubble and sizzle actively at edges. Ease pancake turner under potato cake: if batter smooshes together, it is too soon and cakes will fall apart. Wait a minute or two until firm enough to flip, then turn in one fell swoop to brown second side (cakes will release when they are browned enough for flipping--I promise). Drain well on paper towels. Add oil to skillet as required between batches.
  3. Serve hot either plain with a lime wedge or with salsa, harissa or other favorite hot sauce, and plain yogurt as accompaniments.

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