The popularity of the buckwheat is slowly increasing in England along with the fashion of the "whole grains". Although, technically, buckwheat is a seed of a flowering plant, despite its taxonomy, buckwheat is widely considered as a whole grain. Buckwheat seed has no relation with wheat, therefore it is used in variety of gluten free products.
Buckwheat, in its toasted form, has been and still is a very popular product is Eastern Europe. It has a distinctive smell and taste so it may be slightly off-putting for the first time user. To be honest, I couldn't stand buckwheat while I was a child. The breakthrough happened in my early twenties when I had some digestion problems. Suddenly my body decided that I needed a buckwheat. I have no idea where this came from but I did enjoy my first bowl of simple buckwheat porridge.
Now I use buckwheat a lot, not only for its health benefits but also for versatility. A little while ago toasted buckwheat groats were not available in supermarkets, only raw. Now supermarkets are offering "world foods" sections that make shopping easy. You can buy everything from one place. If you're shopping online, search for "kasha", "buckwheat" or "buckwheat groats". Sainsbury's has a massive isle of Polish food, you will definitely find there.
Okay, so how to cook roasted buckwheat? If you know how to cook rice, you will know how to cook buckwheat. Simple as that. I do not soak buckwheat overnight nor I wash it before boiling simply because it comes very clean these days. Another reason, I like to prepare buckwheat in a deep pan as I would do risotto.
Toasted buckwheat and prawn recipe
- 1 cup of toasted buckwheat
- 1 medium onion
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1/2 of red chilli no seeds
- 1 cube of vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 cups of boiled water
- 1 cup of raw king prawns
- 2 large tomatoes
- Generous pinch of fresh dill
- Splash or two of olive oil
Take a deep pan that comes with the lid and splash a little olive oil. Add finely chopped onion and cook until soft. Add finely chopped garlic and chilli and continue cooking for 1 minute. Do not allow garlic to burn. Reduce the heat and add another splash of oil if needed. You have to have enough oil to cover all buckwheat.
Add buckwheat and allow it to absorb oil and flavours from garlic and onion. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring every minute. In the meantime, mix water with stock and be ready to pour over the buckwheat. Cover the lid, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
When you see buckwheat expanding and most of the water absorbed, add tomato wedges. Cook for another minute. Make sure you still have a little water left, if need more just add a dash of boiled water. Always have it ready by your side.
Scatter prawns over the top of almost cooked buckwheat and allow prawns to cook. When prawns have changed their colour from grey to pink they will be cooked. There is nothing worse than overcooked prawns. Don't leave the pan, just watch over the lid how prawns change their appearance. Once prawns turn pink, have a little taste and, if you need, you can add more salt, a little pinch of black pepper and sprinkle with fresh dill. Remove pan (keep the lid on) from the heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
It tastes great with a good company and a nice glass of wine:) Enjoy!