How To Liven Up Your Buckwheat Ideas | Eastern European food and drink

I see buckwheat in many recipes. What is the best way to cook it? Mine turned out soft.
Zeena, London SE24
When Alissa Timoshkina was little, buckwheat was a staple food: “We had it for breakfast with milk and sugar, as an accompaniment to savory dishes, or as a filling for pies or cabbage rolls,” says the Russian author of Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen and co-founder with Olia Hercules of the Cook for Ukraine fundraising campaign. “Not only is it comforting because it tastes like childhood, but it’s also nutritionally good.”

The first thing to note is that buckwheat comes in two forms: green (or unroasted) and roasted (known as kasha or kasza in Polish). “It makes a big difference,” says Timoshkina. While the toasted stuff “has a lovely nutty quality,” the green has a habit of “coming out sticky and almost gooey.” That said, Zuza Zak, author of Pierogi: Over 50 Recipes to Create Perfect Polish Dumplings, keeps both in her cupboard: “Sometimes I want that tangy toasted buckwheat, and that’s really the taste of Eastern Europe, but other times I want the milder taste of unroasted buckwheat.”

What you don’t want, however, is a mushy texture, and one explanation for Zeena’s spoiled buckwheat could be that it got soggy before cooking. “It will collapse if you do that,” says Timoshkina. “It’s such a tender bean.” It’s much better to add it directly to the pan or, as Zak does, give it a quick rinse under cold water first. Other mush culprits could be cooking it in too much water, or just overcooking it: “Keep an eye on it and keep testing,” says Timoshkina.

So what is the best way to cook buckwheat? Timoshkina treats hers like couscous, puts it in a saucepan of boiling salted water “just above the ‘grain’ level,” then covers it and leaves it overnight: “Buckwheat absorbs all the salty water, but don’t overcook.” Of course, this requires a degree of planning ahead, but when dinnertime rolls around the next day, all that’s left to do is incorporate the buckwheat into herb salads or a mushroom stir-fry, or stuff it into cabbage rolls. .

Another strategy that requires a bit of forethought is one Zak learned from his grandmother, which involves cooking the buckwheat in salted water for about 15 minutes (until the liquid is absorbed), then covering. “Wrap it in a tea towel so the lid is secure, then wrap it in a large towel or blanket. Then Grandma would put the bundle under the duvet in Grandpa’s bed for an hour.”

However, if you don’t have the time or inclination for such behavior, Zak suggests cooking it like rice. Again, he tops the slurries with salted water (“maybe 1½cm on top”), brings to a boil, covers and simmers until the water is gone. Remove from heat and allow to steam for 20 to 30 minutes, which makes all the difference: “It’s the secret to good kasza,” says Zak. “If Zeena does this and it’s still soft, then she must have poor quality kasza and I wouldn’t buy that one again.”

If you’re still in doubt, Timoshkina’s “foolproof option” would be to cook the slurries in “twice as much salty water” and then, once al dente (remember, taste, taste, taste), strain. Alternatively, use buckwheat in a risotto instead of arborio rice. She is removing things.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button