Monday, 7 March 2011

buckwheat pancakes - crepes au Sarrasin

When I lived in Paris I sometimes liked to walk part of the way home, down the Champs Elysees and then along the river. I rewarded myself with a sarrasin pancake from a stall outside the Samaritaine department store - not the building by the Seine that you saw on The Bourne Identity, one of the buildings to the rear. I liked it with Gruyere, especially on a cold evening.

Sarrasin is the French name for buckwheat, grain or flour, although it isn't clear where buckwheat originally came from, the name started with the Romans and it has stuck. It's used in Japan to make soba noodles.

Buckwheat flour is gluten free, and looks a little bit grey. The flavour is a little bit rooty, some say musty, but I think it's like a sweeter version of rye flour. The flour feels very fine between your fingers. It is sometimes mixed with wheat flour, to give more elasticity, however in a pancake it works fine on its own. I will quite happily eat sarrasin pancakes with sweet as well as savoury fillings, although I think it is usually used for the latter.

You can get buckwheat flour in health food shops, and some supermarkets.


250g buckwheat flour
50cl/1pint milk (about a mug and a half)
2 eggs
pinch of salt

Beat the eggs and flour together. Add the milk slowly. When combined add a pinch of salt and set aside for a couple of hours (if you have time).
If the mixture becomes a bit thick, add a little water, to make it spread more easily.

Cook in the usual manner.

Grated cheese.
Ham and cheese.
Sliced chorizo.
Flaked smoked mackerel (with a dollop of sour cream, pepper and a twist of lemon).
Mushrooms, spinach and onions (softly fry onions in a dab of butter and add sliced mushrooms and a few spoonfuls of water, add washed, chopped spinach, and cook until wilted).

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