Smoked Salmon Latkes from 'The Grand Central Market Cookbook'

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Here’s a touch of luxury for your holiday entertaining: crisp-tender fluffy latkes topped with herb-flecked smoked salmon, creamy creme fraiche and trout roe! It’s just one of the many stand-out recipes from the cultural smorgasbord that comprises ‘The Grand Central Market Cookbook’.

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As an unabashed foodie, I’m always eager to explore food destinations. The Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles is one such place. Since I have yet to visit in person, I delighted in the opportunity to learn about its history, vendors (such as the cheekily-named ‘EggSlut’), and breadth of delicious ethnic dishes through the self-named cookbook.

The Grand Central Market opened in 1917: a destination uniting independent vendors such as bakers, fishmongers, butchers, produce vendors, florists and delis. The market went through up and downturn cycles: it flourished in the 1940s, floundered in the 1960s (a combination of residents preferring to live in suburban neighborhoods over city centers and exacerbated by Watt riots violence), and reached 40% vacancy by the time of the 2008 financial crisis. In 2012, the owner, Adele Yellin, saw new life  – promising new restaurants and a growing population of young professionals – flowing into downtown LA, and put together a team to rejuvenate the market. The team rallied and created the present-day market around the motto “From food, community” and marketing tagline “Amazing Food. Amazing Place”.

The ‘Grand Central Market Cookbook’ is a heart-warming collective of recipes from each of the market’s vendors. It merrily criss-crosses culturally across El Salvadorian pupusas, Mexican nopales salad, Thai pad kee mao, vegan artichoke hot ‘wings’, Japanese karaage and Southern-style banana pudding. I would imagine that such a mish-mash of recipes would feel disorganized and awkward. Instead, as I read page to page, the vivid photos of vendors and dishes and backstory about many of them made it feel like a leisurely stroll through the market, with warm greetings and the gift of each proud food provider’s secret recipes. In short, it was absolutely delightful and felt like a fantastic substitute to visiting in-person.

Some of the recipes may sound basic on first glance at the ingredient list, but their value is within the technique-sharing. The latke recipe below is one such example. A standard grated potato and onion pancake transforms into a cloud-like fritter with a dual parboil and deep-fry cooking process. Gilding it with lox, creme fraiche and caviar instead of applesauce elevates it from a warming breakfast to a decadent indulgence. I love the contrast in textures and temperature: the fritters lightly-crisp warmth, the creamy coolness of the creme fraiche and the refreshing pop of the bright trout caviar. I’m fairly sure that you’ll enjoy it just as much!

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Smoked Salmon Latkes (adapted from ‘The Grand Central Market Cookbook’)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1/2 t garlic salt, plus salt for water
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • grapeseed oil, for frying
  • 1/2 lb lox (I used Trader Joe’s pastrami-style smoked salmon)
  • 1/2 C creme fraiche
  • 2 ounces trout roe
  • chopped fresh chives for garnish

Instructions

  • Grate the potatoes and onion with a box grater (or a food processor with a grating disc)
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potato-onion mixture and blanche for 45 seconds. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water, and squeeze to release as much water as possible. Spread the mixture on a sheet pan and refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cooled potato-onion mixture with the eggs and flour. Season with the garlic salt and pepper.

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  • Heat 1/4″ of oil in a pot (I like to use this tempura fryer because it requires less oil to deep-fry) over medium heat. Shape ~2T dollops of the potato-onion mixture into a flattish shape and slip into the hot oil, working in batches and being sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for 2-4 minutes per side, or until golden and crispy. Drain on a paper-towel-lined tray.
  • To serve, place latkes on a platter. Top with a slice of lox, a dollop of creme fraiche, a spoonful of caviar (make sure to use a non-metallic spoon), and a sprinkle of chives.

These tasted as good as they look, and I’m looking forward to vicariously experiencing the best of the Grand Central Market through many of the other delicious-sounding recipes in the book. :9

xoxo and aloha,

lauriel2

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