For someone with a love affair with interesting grains, the bulk food bins at Whole Foods can provide many a happy hour. I only knew of kasha through the descriptions of MFK Fisher (it is through her writings that I have experienced many of the finer things of life) so I was instantly tempted when I spotted the pretty toasted grains at Whole Foods. A few internet searches later, I was ready to go. Well, my first attempt was kind of a disaster. The whole thing turned into some kind of awful pasty mush and since I had no idea what it was supposed to taste like I kind of made my way through the batch and then had no inclination to cook up the rest. Somewhere in the back of my mind though, I knew kasha had to be different and good. MFK Fisher would not lead me astray. So tonight I gave it another go, this time being careful to try it at different stages of cooking and stopping it when it seemed right to me. It turns out, kasha has a nice nubbly texture and wonderful nutty flavor. To go with, I fixed up a batch of Chinese eggplant (using Japanese eggplants of course), winging it the way my mom taught me. Together with some homebrewed beer gifted by some friends and I have dined!
Combine 2 cups of water with 1/4 tsp salt and bring to boil in medium saucepan. Add 1 cup of toasted buckwheat groats, lower the flame to miniscule and clap a lid on. After 10 minutes, give it a stir and taste. If there's a lot of water left, cook a few minutes longer. But check as you go and taste so it doesn't turn to mush on you. I like the grains to be tender but separate and nubbly.
Depending on size, a few Japanese eggplants. I used 3 big ones. Cut into manageable long rectangles, each pieces should be 2-3 bites maybe. If you cut too small they tend to disintegrate on you. Coat the pieces with some oil using your hands and throw into a dutch oven. Put the lid on top and turn on a low flame. Every so often go and stir everything up so it doesn't burn but keep on cooking until the pieces are quite soft. If it looks like it might be burning, turn the flame lower. When soft, toss in a few chopped scallions, swirl in soy sauce, water, and sugar to taste. Mix a heaping tsp of corn starch with a splash of cold water and add a bit at a time until you achieve a thickness you like. I wish I had more precise directions but this is a pretty forgiving dish I think. If it tastes too salty, add more sugar and vice versa. If too dry and you feel you've already added a bunch of soy sauce, add more water. Ditto if it got too thick.