Buckwheat Pancakes with Whey (No Whey?!)

About these pancakes: These are borderline savoury pancakes- I’ve been able to happily eat them with both jam and with sharp, aged Cheddar. If you’re expecting a mild, fluffy, sweet American pancake, you might want to add more sugar. These are more yogurty, more sour-doughy, more…complex. And awesome.

Yesterday, I made home made ricotta cheese. Now, if you happened to read the whole brutally long post, you may recall two key things.

  1. We ate the whole batch in one go last night
  2. I saved the whey when I drained the curds


And you may be asking yourself, why on earth is she saving that… stuff? Why did she subject poor Doug to a barely-sealed, leaky Tupperware container of thin, watery liquid placed awkwardly on top of a bunch of other things in our already too-full half-sized Chinese fridge? I mean, we could have fit three whole beers there!

Well, I wanted pancakes. Buckwheat pancakes, to be precise.

Why buckwheat pancakes?

Well, because I happen to have a bag of buckwheat flour and have been trying to figure out what to do with it. Last week I managed to make egg noodles with 25% buckwheat flour and they turned out lovely and smooth and chewy. The other day it dawned on me that I could make buckwheat pancakes so I googled the recipe. Since I’m algorithmically lazy, I chose the first one that came up, which was thankfully from AllRecipes.com and not from BuyMyPancakeMixBiatch.com.

This is what they called for:

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons butter


And this is what I have:

  • A big bowl of leftover whey
  • A half empty litre jar of home made plain yogurt (the bacterial kind)
  • A big plastic jug of sunflower oil
  • A big bag of Chinese flour, probably all-purpose
  • A small plastic bag of buckwheat flour
  • Clumpy dark brown sugar
  • Clumpy table salt
  • Baking soda!
  • More sunflower oil


According to my dictionary, buckwheat is 乔麦粉 and baking soda is either 小苏打碳 or 酸氢钠的苏打水

Now, you may say to yourself, well, dagnabit, she’s already screwed up the first ingredient on the list. No buttermilk. How does she expect to find buttermilk in China?  To this I nod sagely and say, yup, you probably can’t find buttermilk in China- at least not in the shops, as far as I know. I don’t even know the word for buttermilk in Mandarin.

However, I do have whey and I do have bacterially active yogurt and if you take a spoonful of yogurt and mix it into the whey, you get pretty much the same effect. You just need the soured milk thing to react with the baking soda.

To make these pancakes is quite simple.

  1. Get two biggish bowls. I used one big soup bowl and one sauce pan.
  2. In one bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Whisk with a fork or with two chop sticks if necessary.
  3. In the other bowl (the bigger one if you have two different sizes), mix together the dry ingredients. Make sure the sugar unclumps and that the baking soda is evenly spread throughout. Mine was very lumpy and I had to really break it up.
  4. Pour the contents of the wet bowl into the dry bowl and mix until they are incorporated and you don’t see any big lumps of dry ingredients. You don’t want to be eating pockets of flour or baking soda.
  5. Let it sit. Buckwheat pancakes are actually better after resting a while. You can even put the batter back in the fridge and make them the next day. They’re like sour dough bread that way.
  6. When you’re ready to make them, pre heat your wok on a medium low flame. Add a blorp of oil or butter if you have it.  Test the heat of the pan by spooning in a little batter: If it sizzles, it’s ready. If it just sits there soaking up oil, it isn’t ready. If it starts smoking, turn down the heat.
  7. Scoop about 1/4 of a cup of batter (2 table spoons or 30ml) into the center of the hot oiled wok. Tilt the wok in a circle once to spread the batter out a bit so it isn’t too thick.
  8. Watch the bubbles form and then burst on the surface.
  9. When the bubbles have popped, flip it over and cook for another minute.
  10. Eat it. With jam or honey or cinnamon sugar or whatever.
Let me show you.
If you have butter, by all means melt it and use it instead of oil
I mix my pancakes with my friend, Arthur the Pig
Wok cakes!
I realized after I roughly and rakishly added the jam and butter that I forgot to take the pancake money-shot. I need a food stylist, I think.


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  1. Angie says:

    wow i so need to try this out ! Cant wait !

  2. Tracyann0312 says:

    Taste delicious. Pancakes is one of my favorite breakfast my mom always prepares. Thank you for sharing the recipe and the procedure to cook it. I can’t wait to ask my mom to cook it.
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