{recipe} Pea and Leek Pancakes with Black Pepper Crema

Last week I shared my favorite potato pancake substitute, the Korean vegetable pancakes known as jijims, but seeing as there are still 5 more days of Hanukkah left this year, I thought you might like another non-traditional latke stand-in: the pea and leek pancake.

I like to serve it with a side of Mexican crema that’s been pumped up with freshly cracked black pepper. I like the crema because it’s so much richer and tangier than run-of-the-mill sour cream and milder than Greek yogurt. If you can’t find it, you can substitute creme fraiche, which is basically the same thing but usually comes a little thicker. In San Francisco you can buy crema at many grocery stores, and if you want to try even more country-specific crema varietals, La Palma Mexicatessen offers the Honduran and El Salvadorean varieties too, which are yellower, more buttery, and undoubtedly even more fattening than the Mexican kind. But hey, we’re talking about a holiday that celebrates oil, so I think you can justify it.

Recipe: Pea Pancakes with Black Pepper Crema
serves 4 as a side or appetizer


  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 Tblsp olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, sliced thinly (white and light green parts only) and rinsed well to remove all dirt
  • 2 large shallots, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tblsp melted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • About 3/4 cup crema for serving


  • Heat a small pot of salted water. When it boils, add the peas and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until peas are tender but not mushy. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
  • Heat about 2 Tblsp olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add leeks and shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not brown, about 10-12 minutes. (Lower the heat if they brown too quickly.)
  • Add peas and parsley to the pan with 2 large pinches of salt and the cumin. Cook to combine and heat through, about 3-5 minutes. Use a potato masher to smash the peas so they are broken up and their skins are split.
  • Meanwhile, whisk egg with 1/3 cup water and the melted butter. Add 2 large pinches of salt, flour, and baking powder, and whisk to combine well. Stir in the pea and leek mixture and mix well to combine.
  • Heat about 3-4 Tblsp vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Spoon batter into the pan to form small pancakes and cook until browned on one side. Flip and continue cooking until evenly browned on both sides. You might need to lower and raise the heat throughout the process to ensure even browning.
  • Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Make stacks with more paper towels and more pancakes and that will help keep the bottom ones warm without making them too greasy.
  • Combine crema with several grinds of freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Serve pancakes warm with the crema.

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