Soba noodles, made from buckwheat flour
Naengmyeon, Korean cold noodle soup made with buckwheat flour
A traditional Breton galette, a thin large buckwheat flour crepe
The fruit is an achene, similar to sunflower seed, with a single seed inside a hard outer hull. The starchy endosperm is white and makes up most or all of buckwheat flour. The seed coat is green or tan, which darkens buckwheat flour. The hull is dark brown or black, and some may be included in buckwheat flour as dark specks. The dark flour is known as 'blé noir' ('black wheat') in French, along with the name sarrasin ('saracen'). Buckwheat noodle has been eaten by people from Tibet and northern China for a long time as wheat can not be grown in the mountain regions. A special press made of wood log was built to press the dough into hot boiling water when making buckwheat noodle. Old presses found in Tibet and Shansi share the same basic design features. The Japanese and Koreans might have learnt the making of buckwheat noodles from them.
Buckwheat noodles play a major role in the cuisines of Japan (soba), Korea (naengmyeon, makguksu and memil guksu) and the Valtellina region of Northern Italy (pizzoccheri). Soba noodles are the subject of deep cultural importance in Japan. In Korea, guksu (noodles) were widely made from buckwheat before it was replaced by wheat. The difficulty of making noodles from flour that has no gluten has resulted in a traditional art developed around their manufacture by hand.
Buckwheat groats are commonly used in western Asia and eastern Europe. The porridge was common, and is often considered the definitive peasant dish. It is made from roasted groats that are cooked with broth to a texture similar to rice or bulgur. The dish was brought to America by Russian and Polish immigrants who called it "kasha" and mixed it with pasta or used it as a filling for knishes and blintzes, and hence buckwheat groats are most commonly called kasha in America. Groats were the most widely used form of buckwheat worldwide during the 20th century, eaten primarily in Russia, Ukraine and Poland. The groats can also be sprouted and then eaten raw or cooked.
Buckwheat pancakes, sometimes raised with yeast, are eaten in several countries. They are known as buckwheat blinis in Russia, galettes in France (savoury crêpes which are especially associated with Brittany), ployes in Acadia and boûketes (which are named after the buckwheat plant) in the Wallonia region of Belgium. Similar pancakes were a common food in American pioneer days. They are light and foamy. The buckwheat flour gives them an earthy, mildly mushroom-like taste. In Ukraine, yeast rolls called hrechanyky are made from buckwheat.
Farina made from groats are used for breakfast food, porridge, and thickening materials in soups, gravies, and dressings. In Korea, buckwheat starch is used to make a jelly called memilmuk. It is also used with wheat, maize (polenta taragna in Northern Italy) or rice in bread and pasta products.
Buckwheat contains no gluten and can consequently be eaten by people with coeliac disease or gluten allergies. Many bread-like preparations have been developed. However, buckwheat can be a potent and potentially fatal allergen by itself. In sensitive people, it provokes IgE-mediated anaphylaxis. The cases of anaphylaxis induced by buckwheat ingestion have been reported in Korea, Japan and Europe where it is more often described as a "hidden allergen". A recent article by Heffler E et al. showed that allergic reactions, even severe ones, induced by accidental ingestion of buckwheat as "hidden allergy", are not so rare as previously described.
Buckwheat is a good honey plant, producing a dark, strong monofloral honey.