Buckwheat is an exceptionally nutritious pseudograin that's rich in complete protein and minerals. In contrast to most whole grains, which have low mineral availability due to phytic acid, buckwheat contains a high level of the phytic acid-degrading enzyme phytase. This makes buckwheat an excellent source of easily absorbed minerals, as long as you prepare it correctly! Phytase enzyme works best in an acidic environment, which may be part of the reason why so many cultures use sour fermentation to prepare grain foods. My original recipe included a sour fermentation step.
But there's a problem here. Buckwheat doesn't ferment very well. Whether it's because it doesn't contain the right carbohydrates, or the right bacteria, I don't know, but it spoils rapidly if you ferment it more than a little bit (using a strong sourdough starter helps though). Others have told me the same. So here's my confession: I stopped fermenting my buckwheat batter about a year ago. And it tastes better.
In the end, I don't think it matters much, nutritionally speaking. Why? I came across old research by our friends Drs. Edward and May Mellanby (discovered vitamin D, the mechanism of rickets, and the nutritional consequences of phytic acid) suggesting that grains that are rich in the enzyme phytase
(e.g., rye) rapidly digest their own phytic acid even without fermentation, if the raw grains are ground into a fine batter and allowed to sit for a couple of hours. That should also apply to buckwheat, as long as it's ground raw, as it is in my recipe.
Here's my updated, simplified recipe:
Ingredients and Materials
- RAW buckwheat groats, 3 cups (does not work with kasha)
- Salt, 1 tbsp
- Food processor or blender (blender is best)
- Cover buckwheat with a large amount of water and soak for 9-24 hours. Raw buckwheat is astringent due to water-soluble tannins. Soaking in a large volume of water and giving it a stir from time to time will minimize this. The soaking water will get slimy! This is normal.
- Pour off the soaking water and rinse the buckwheat thoroughly to get rid of the slime and residual tannins.
- Blend the buckwheat, salt, and water in a food processor or blender. Use enough water so that it reaches the consistency of pancake batter (I usually add water until it's just above the level of the buckwheat in the blender). The smoother you get the batter, the better the final product will be.
- The batter is done! Put it in the fridge if you aren't going to eat it immediately.
- Cook it! In a greased or non-stick skillet, cook the batter at whatever thickness and temperature you prefer. I like to cook a thick 'pancake' with the lid on, at low heat, so that it steams gently. If I'm feeling fancy, I'll make a thinner crepe cooked at higher heat, and fold it over a filling. It will develop a delicious crispy bottom if you cook it on higher heat.
Thanks to Christaface for the CC-licensed Flickr photo.