Saturday, June 30, 2012

Buckwheat Kasha

Blog's Category: USSR-era Recipes, My Staple Food

Everybody who was introduced to GOOD (I mean it - good) buckwheat kasha from childhood, hooked on it forever. Yes, I swear every single Russian or Ukrainian loves it, kids adore it. Although you have to have nice roasted buckwheat groats to start with. Here, in US, it's available exclusively in Russian stores, only. Buckwheat offered from other sources is usually raw organic buckwheat that is just not going to work. Just using buckwheat "made in Russia/Ukraine" you will get that great Buckwheat Kasha where each groat stays whole and separated from each other. Proper buckwheat kasha is not a grayish muddy mush as you could think after having the first experience with a local buckwheat. Nice kasha rather reminds bulgur in a texture but lighter and softer than bulgur and has great unique flavor which is hard to describe.

Too bad that such a great product is just not available, not promoted and not wildly cultivated here, in US. It has great nutrition qualities to it: gluten-free, with a high number of amino-acids in it, low calorie and just plain tasty if proper groats are used.

Also, I found out that it cannot be wildly produced just because commercial fields are commonly treated with nitrates and buckwheat negatively responds to nitrites (opposed to corn and wheat that "love" nitrate)...[sigh]  Honestly it would be the most missed food for me... But things are a little bit different - we are happy and eat our buckwheat kasha :)
So, if you have Russian grocery around - go ahead and get that buckwheat and try out this kasha - you'll be surprised how good it is.

- We like to eat simple buckwheat kasha as a side dish, cooked with a plain water (not a broth). But some people like breakfast version of it cooked with milk and sweetened.

Taste Description
"Right" buckwheat kasha is loose, each grain (well, technically it's a seed!) is separated, texture is light and airy, taste is unspeakable, very flavorful.

How to Serve
Serve it as you would serve rice.  First add butter or olive oil into your buckwheat and then top it with any kind of cooked meat, fish, mushrooms or vegetables - it would be great if they would have some kind of sauce, buckwheat loves sauces.
Although to find out true taste of buckwheat - just add decent amount of butter and taste it. You may not want anything else on it - it's that good!
Buckwheat Kasha

Serves 4 as a side dish

2 c buckwheat groats
4 c of tap water
1/3 to 1/2 tsp salt  
unsalted butter to serve with 

- Wash your buckwheat groats to remove some dust and couple random hull specks.

- Put pot with buckwheat, tap water and salt on a heat. Ratio buckwheat to water has to be 1:2. As a buckwheat kasha pro-cook I do not make any measurement - I cook it in a bigger quantities and have water level 1.5" above the buckwheat groats. For the first time, you may want to stick to the ratio above.

- Bring water to a boil. Let it boil on a medium-high heat until water level comes down to buckwheat (or vice versa, buckwheat comes up to water level :)) It will take about 15 minutes. Then turn heat on the lowest setting, cover with lid and cook for 15-20 minutes. Turn heat off, let it stay for 10 more minutes (if you are patient enough!) and serve.

- Spoon some kasha to a bowl. Add butter. I have to mention that there is Russian folks proverb "butter will never spoil the kasha" - do you see what I mean? :)  And enjoy! Let me know if like it. I'll be happy if it happens, really! When I experience something great I want other people to know how great it is :)

- If you despite my precautions to use buckwheat from Russian store, only, (no commercial interest here, really :), if you will use some kind of organic raw buckwheat, you may need to add more water during the cooking. Also be careful in this case about your kasha burning in a bottom. Trust me - I've being there. Well, I'm almost encourage you to try first Russian store's buckwheat (first please!) and then raw, organic, such as Bob's Mill brand - you will see the difference, it's huge.

Buckwheat pack from Russian store (sorry, buckwheat itself is not in there - it's already in a pot..)

Buckwheat in a Russian store comes roasted so it has nice brownish tint to it. BTW I never had the same result trying to roast raw buckwheat at home...

It's ready to go on a stove.

Water and buckwheats are leveled up now and I am about to get lid on it and turn heat to very low.

It's ready!

Today we ate it with cauliflower and chick peas stew - heavenly tasty. Tomorrow my men will get kasha from a  fridge and pop it in a microwave with some chicken kotlets I've made yesterday - quick and easy meal. This kasha will serve us as a side dish for a couple more days - no complains.. ever!

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