I prefer to use buckwheat groats for this batter, rather than buckwheat flour: they have a more intense flavour, as well as a more interesting texture. Pickle the onions the night before serving, if you can: their flavour and colour will both get more vibrant with time. If you want, top with a fried egg, though if you do so, you won’t need the extra ricotta to serve.
150g raw buckwheat groats, soaked in plenty of cold water for 3-4 hours (any less, and they won’t soften enough, longer and they will disintegrate)
150ml whole milk
20g parmesan, finely grated
50g basil leaves
2 eggs, whites and yolks separated
Salt and black pepper
140g ricotta (or just 60g if serving with fried eggs: see introduction)
40g unsalted butter, for frying
Pickled onion salsa:
60ml white-wine vinegar
2 tsp sumac
¾ tsp caster sugar
Finely shaved peel of 1 lime
1 garlic clove, roughly bashed with the flat of a knife but left unpeeled
½ red onion, peeled and cut into 2- to 3mm-thick slices
1½ tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
1-2 small preserved lemons, flesh cut off and discarded, skin chopped into 0.5cm dice
10g coriander leaves, chopped
- Start with the salsa. Combine the vinegar, sumac, sugar, lime peel, garlic and onion in a medium bowl with half a teaspoon of salt, then leave to pickle for at least three hours (and preferably overnight).
- To make the hotcake batter, put the buckwheat groats, milk, parmesan, basil, dill and egg yolks in a food processor with half a teaspoon of salt. Whizz on high speed until you have a uniform batter, then tip into a large bowl, stir in 60g ricotta and set to one side. Don’t worry if the batter discolours after a few minutes: it will brighten up again once fried.
- Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then, using a spatula, gradually and gently fold them into the batter: you want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible, so take care not to overwork it.
- Drain the pickled onions, discarding the lime peel and garlic, and put them in a medium bowl with the oil, preserved lemon, coriander and a generous grind of pepper. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Melt 10g butter in a large, nonstick frying pan on a medium-high heat. You’ll need about three tablespoons of batter per pancake, and you’ll need to cook them in batches of two or three at a time, spaced well apart. Once the pancakes are in the pan, fry them for about four minutes, turning halfway, until golden on both sides, then transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towel to drain. Keep warm while you repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter as and when you need it. (If you plan to top your hotcakes with fried eggs, make these once all the batter is cooked.)
- Serve two or three warm pancakes a portion with the salsa and remaining ricotta (if you’re not adding an egg) alongside. Add a final drizzle of olive oil and a generous grind of pepper, and serve hot.