Fried Buckwheat Groats

friedbuckwheatpj

Fried rice is the most extraordinary leftover meal I can imagine. It’s easy, quick, versatile and it often tastes better than the meal for which the rice was previously cooked. I had been convinced that nothing could replace good white rice here until I tried buckwheat groats. This experimental, fusion version of this popular Asian dish was a revelation.

Buckwheat grains/groats (sometimes called “kasha”, the word which in reality refers to “groats” in general and not necessarily buckwheat groats) are dried, slightly triangular seeds of a plant (Fagopyrum genus) which is not a grass, nor a cereal, even though it looks like one and is not related to wheat. They are very rich in protein, contain minerals, antioxydants, iron and are gluten free, so they can be consumed by people who don’t tolerate it or try to reduce it.  Apart from all these healthy sides, buckwheat grows very quickly and easily. That is why it can be cultivated in cold climate and crops can be easily multiplied in hot regions. Buckwheat grains, in their roasted form, are widely consumed in certain Eastern and Central European cuisines (such as Russian, Polish or Ukrainian). In Japan, India or France, often only buckwheat flour is known (although the grain form called “soba gome” is sometimes also eaten in Japan). If you have ever had soba noodles or French “galettes” (savoury crêpes), then you are familiar with buckwheat flour. Japan produces also soba shochu (alcohol distilled from buckwheat seeds).

I grew up eating buckwheat much more often than rice. It was usually served with meat in sauce (it absorbs sauces in a marvellous way) and even though I have never disliked it, I felt I could happily live without it (I have certainly never seen it as wonder food, the way in which it is made popular now by nutritionists in many countries). Taste buds change with age and the older I get, the more often I crave buckwheat’s nutty, strong fragrance and its curious, partly crunchy, partly soft texture. I eat only roasted, light brown buckwheat groats and would strongly advise everyone to try this version first, because the roasting process gives them a unique nutty aroma and a slightly bitter – but pleasant – taste (see the TIPS).

Unlike white rice I always use, buckwheat groats are not overwhelmed by bold-tasting products, such as garlic, chili or smoked meat, and are absolutely irresistible with miso. The choice of ingredients in this dish was mainly dictated by the content of my fridge (just like it happens when I prepare fried rice), so feel free to put any meat, vegetables or spices you prefer. I have opted for a miso and garlic sauce, but a simple addition of soy sauce would work great here too. The below recipe should be treated only as an example of what can be added to fried buckwheat which is certainly a pleasant change for those who eat rice on a daily basis.

TIPS: In many countries, where buckwheat is not traditionally consumed (such as France or Switzerland) buckwheat grains are sold in health/organic shops often only in a “raw” dried form in which they have a pale greenish colour and bland taste. For me (and several buckwheat fans I know) such buckwheat is simply inedible (especially when you know how marvellous it becomes once roasted). To tell you the truth, the only time I bought such pale buckwheat groats, they ended up in the bin because I couldn’t force myself to eat them. You can apparently roast them on your own in a pan (I have never tried it though), but the best idea is to look for the brown, roasted groats sometimes also sold in organic shops and practically always available in Russian and Polish grocery shops.

If you don’t have miso, you can simply omit it. It is far from being obligatory.

Preparation: 20 minutes + about 40 minutes (buckwheat cooking time)

Ingredients (serves one):

80 g (about 1/2 cup) roasted buckwheat groats + 250 ml water + 1/2 teaspoon salt or 250 ml/1 cup leftover cooked buckwheat groats

1 small courgette

2 thick slices of smoked bacon or other smoked meat (I have used smoked pork loin)

1/2 small onion

1 chili pepper

1 egg

Garlic miso sauce:

1 flat tablespoon miso

1 garlic clove (grated or crushed)

1 teaspoon sake

1 tablespoon soy sauce 

chili oil

sesame seeds

Cook the buckwheat:

Pour the water into a pan. Bring it to the boil, add the salt.

Throw the buckwheat grains into the pan, give them a stir and let them cook partially covered at medium heat for about ten minutes.

Lower the heat and let it simmer, this time completely covered, for about 5 more minutes.

Put the pan aside, leaving the cover on and leave the buckwheat for 15 minutes in a warm place.

Cooked buckwheat can be kept in a closed container in the fridge for several days and reheated in a microwave.

Combine the sauce ingredients.

Slice the onion and the chili pepper.

Cut the bacon and the courgette into bite-sized pieces.

Fry the onion in a heated pan with oil.

After 3-4 minutes add the chili pepper.

Fry it on medium heat for one minute.

Add the  bacon and the courgette to the pan.

After 5 minutes, add the buckwheat and the miso sauce.

Stir-fry until the buckwheat is well heated.

In the meantime fry an egg in another pan.

Serve the fried buckwheat with a fried egg on top. I loved it with coriander leaves, toasted sesame seeds and a splash of chili oil.

 

 


 

45 thoughts on “Fried Buckwheat Groats

  1. Barb @ Profiteroles & Ponytails

    I always love to learn something new — and boy did I by reading this post. Thanks for introducing me to a grain I knew very little about. This looks like a great weeknight meal that is easy and healthy. I would eat this after a long day at the office quite happily!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Barb. I don’t put the healthy part first: as I said I had it often as a child and not because it was healthy… It was just a carb 😉

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, A_Boleyn. You have probably heard about it from health-conscious sources and not people who, like me, look at it as a staple… As I have mentioned I had it much more often than rice or pasta as a child. It was just another carb my mum served. I discovered that it’s healthy only when I was about twenty. Believe me, this is not why I eat it regularly. I just like it.

  2. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    What a great recipe idea to share Sissi – many of my clients have adopted buckwheat as their gluten free grain of choice. Like most of the ancient grains, it is full of healthful properties and, I agree, wonderful, complex taste. I love your preparation here too – frying the groats likens it even more to rice and the warming properties are appreciated this time of year! This looks like such a dynamite lunch or supper and you can play around with the protein topping – I just picked up some adorable little white navy beans that would work splendidly in here too… Thanks for the great recipe idea Sissi! :).

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Kelly. I knew you would know well buckwheat 😉 I still cannot get used to the fact that it’s very healthy food product… I was really surprised how well it has replaced rice (I usually use it with meat sauces).

  3. Martyna @ WholesomeCook

    Hi Sissi, I love buckwheat and your idea of using it instead in fried rice is quite ingenious! I grew up eating all sorts of kasha growing up and miss the fact that it’s not as popular in Australia as it was in Poland.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Martyna, for the compliment. I have suspected that you liked buckwheat too 😉 I must say I was really surprised how good it tasted instead of rice. If I hadn’t had the leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, I would have never tried buckwheat this way. Now it opens for me lots of possibilities as a rice replacement.

  4. Mr. Three-Cookies

    Fried buckwheat? Thats creative. And I like the recipe for garlic sauce.
    Hearing the word buckwheat brings pleasant memories, its a pity its not common here. I think I bought it just once. I need to reacquaint myself with it:)

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Mr. Three-Cookies. I am sure all the Polish shops sell it and I think there are quite a lot of Poles in Sweden 😉 so I hope you can buy it soon. I’m sure you will have very creative ideas!

  5. Eha

    I too grew up and loved all kinds of kasha dishes. Am still in love altho’ I do use brown rice more often [4-5 x/week in some form]. Also use a lot of soba noodles. Like your recipe and shall follow it faithfully: quite a fusion twixt east and west 🙂 ! Thanks!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Eha. I must say I eat brown rice maybe twice a year 😉 I still haven’t found a dish where it tastes better or as good as white rice for me, so I hardly ever cook it.

  6. mjskit

    Buckwheat grouts is not very common in my neck of the woods, but I think I could find them at the co-op (organic store) where I shop. I’ve seen a couple of recipes with buckwheat recently and now I see a dish with an egg on top and know that I HAVE to try them! Anything that gets top with an egg has got to be good! Great dish Sissi! Isn’t it amazing how some of the best recipes come together by just working with what you already have in the fridge and pantry?

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, MJ. Remember only to buy the roasted buckwheat (brown not light green), otherwise it’s really not good and here many organic stores sell the non-roasted version. I must look through my grains an beans that stay for years in my cupboards and cook more than just rice and noodles.

  7. ray

    To be honest, I’ve never had buckwheat before. I’m sure it is a grain that I will enjoy. This looks like a very hearty bowl of yum. Have a good week, Sissi! 🙂

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Ray. It tastes a bit like 100% buckwheat soba noodles of course, but the consistency is rather crunchy and grainy and the aroma is stronger.

  8. Eva

    I’ve only recently tasted buckwheat and really live its slightly nutty flavour. And since I’m trying to cut out carbs this would be a perfect addition to our repertoire.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Eva. From what I have read buckwheat has almost as much carbs as pasta or white rice, but it contains lots of good things (and in my opinion, it tastes better than brown rice 😉 ).

  9. ping

    I doubt I’ll ever get to try this … not here anyway. I might find some in the health stores but I’m sure they’ll be dried stuff and from what you say, I won’t even bother. But it does sound really good esp the description of the nutty flavors, light crunch with a soft chewy center … like cooked whole wheat grains. We have a recipe using that with brown sugar and coconut milk. I so love the texture of the cooked wheat. I’d probably try frying it this way instead. Great idea, Sissi.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thanks a lot, Ping. Maybe in Japanese shops? Although I have heard that Japanese eat rarely buckwheat in this form (rather soba noodles). The brown sugar and coconut milk dish sounds fabulous. Will you post it one day?

      1. ping

        I will check out the Japanese stores. Thanks for the suggestion.
        I will try post the wheat/brown sugar/coconut thingy one day. I have yet to see how to make it look nice instead of a dull milky brown.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Zsuzsa for the compliments. I’m honoured to be considered a good cook by you (but I disagree about my photographic skills). I would have never thought it looked good (maybe curious?), so I’m glad you like it. I think buckwheat is not popular in Hungarian cuisine, is it?

      1. Zsuzsa

        No Sissi I am serious. But no, buckwheat is not high on my agenda. I don’t even know what it is in Hungarian and the only time I used it was when I had to do gluten free cooking and mostly in way of substitutions for one of my kids. Our gluten free life went on for 4 years, with a lot of closet gorging at Tim Horton’s so buckwheat doesn’t bring back happy memories for me. So it was a surprise to see it in an appetizing form and I was duly impressed. 🙂

        1. Sissi Post author

          Zsuzsa, I am not surprised… Buckwheat is not as easy as rice or pasta and it has to be used in certain ways in order to be enjoyed. This fried buckwheat was a risky experiment in my opinion, but luckily it was a successful experiment. It’s one of the staple carbs in Poland and it’s really delicious with meat in sauce (I think I will post soon a Polish recipe which is simply perfect with it). It soaks up the sauce in a marvellous way. It’s also used to fill dumplings and even to make sweet cakes (!) but I haven’t had the courage yet to try this unusual way.

  10. Maria

    I have recently discovered buckwheat flour (hubby has gluten intolerance) and made many time galettes, but I never tried the groats. If I ever come across them I will try your recipe 🙂

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, Maria. Groats have a similar taste to flour products but of course stronger and the texture is crunchy, very special. I hope you will like them.

  11. shuhan

    wow I learn something new everytime I come here. I have only had buckwheat in the form on noodles aka soba, but haven;t had buckwheat groats ever before, so it’s very helpful to learn about getting the right ones. very curious as to how it tastes now. one of my favourite grains when I get bored of rice is quinoa, and millet, both of which have a slightly earthier/nutty taste to it, which I imagine buckwheat to have. will try this out the enxt time I drop by the health food store! this looks yummy x

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Shu Han. If you want to experiment with buckwheat, remember not to buy the light green grains, only the roasted ones (brown). The non-roasted grains are really awful (in my opinion). No nutty taste, no deep aroma… If the health food store doesn’t carry them, I’m sure you have lots of Polish shops in London and they have it at 100%.

  12. Juliana

    Sissi, I like the idea of preparing the buckwheat like fried rice…looks delicious and super healthy.
    Hope you are having a great week and thanks for the recipe 🙂

  13. elisabeth@foodandthrift

    Sissy, this dish is so healthy and delicious! The only way I used to make buckwheat is the one which is the farfalle pasta with the buckwheat! Love your creative spin on this with the yummy sunny-side egg on top, and the spin of the miso, making it spicy! Just so delicious, and super healthy!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Elisabeth. I’m sure many health conscious people would say that my smoked pork and fried egg don’t make it healthy 😉 Which is ok because I didn’t try to make a healthy dish. I only wanted to substitute the white rice with something else and since I don’t like brown rice…

  14. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Sorry I’ve missed out this post and just found it in my inbox. When I think of buckwheat it’s usually soba but I know there are a lot of ways to eat it. Your fried egg made me remember our conversation on fried egg on top of food theory. This looks so good compared to one without egg. 😉

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, Nami. You have had a lot of things going on recently, so I understand. Thank you for coming back! I was wondering if buckwheat is frequently eaten in Japan… I have seen buckwheat grains (or groats) several times at Shizuoka Gourmet, but my Japanese friend from Tokyo has never even tasted it… and I have never seen it in any Japanese cookery book.
      Yes, there are different fried rice “schools”. Some people fry rice without the egg, some include the egg inside, but my favourite version is with the runny yolk on top of the rice 🙂

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