to its name, buckwheat is not a wheat. It is a member of the Polygonaceace
family which includes sorrel, bindweed, and knotweed and is closely related to
rhubarb. It is renowned for its hardiness and ability to thrive in very poor
conditions. The parts we eat are the seeds.
Buckwheat has been
grown and eaten for thousands of years in China and Japan, and was taken
to Russia by The Crusaders (who got it from the Saracens), where it quickly
became one of the staple crops due to its hardiness and its high nutritional
value. It is the best known source of high quality, easily digestible
protein in the entire plant kingdom, having even more protein than soybeans.
In Russian cuisine, Buckwheat
is used in a variety of ways such as savoury and sweet porridges, as a side dish
for main course, as a stuffing for fish and poultry and Buckwheat flour is used
to make blini (yeast pancakes).
seeds can come whole or ground, plain or toasted and the flavour is very intense
and ranges from nutty to earthy.