Keftes de prasa are de rigeur at most holiday celebrations on the Sephardic side of my family. Rosh Hashanah, Passover, Hannukah--it doesn't matter. Any excuse is good enough reason to enjoy these simple leek fritters. Not much more than leeks, eggs, and breadcrumbs, they are deceptively delicious and addictive. Almost like latkes but with leeks instead of potatoes.
Like latkes, they are great fun at a celebration, but after sitting out for too long, they lose that perfect crispness that makes fried food really special. If you make them for a small group and serve them fresh from the pan, I guarantee your guests will be begging for a return invitation.
In this recipe, I've actually synthesized a couple different traditions. In my family, the leeks are boiled. I found a very similar Syrian-Jewish recipe for Ejjeh b'Kerrateh in the superb Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck, where she sautees the leeks, producing a stronger, better oniony flavor. The Syrian version also adds subtle flavors of allspice, cinnamon, and hot pepper, which I've listed as optional ingredients. I like them, but my wife found them distracting. On the other hand, the Syrian version doesn't use any breadcrumbs, which I think are an important textural element.
If you are nice, maybe someday I'll tell you about serving keftes de prasa in a sandwich, like falafel. (By the way, you may find keftes called kyeftes, keftedes, or kifticas. Our family pronounces them koof-teek-az.)
Keftes De Prasa (Leek Fritters)
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only (about 12 ounces), halved lengthwise, sliced thinly and washed in 3 changes of water
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (for Passover, use matzo meal)
- 3/4 teaspoon allspice (optional)
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (or Aleppo pepper if you have it) (optional)
- vegetable oil for shallow frying
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over a medium-high flame. (You can use the same skillet to finish the fritters.) Add the leeks and salt and saute for about 5 minutes, until quite wilted.
In a bowl, combine the sauteed leeks, salt, eggs, breadcrumbs and the Syrian spices if you are using them. Mix thoroughly. You should have a rather wet batter, not something that you could form into a ball, but with some body. If it is too thin, add a bit more breadcrumbs; or if it is too dry, add another beaten egg. If you are in doubt, fry a test fritter in step 3, then adjust.