Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My new molcajete

I just picked up this molcajete at the San Juan de Dios market. The molcajete is an essential part of the Mexican kitchen, primarily used to make salsas. It's the Mexican version of a mortar and pestle, made of porous volcanic rock.

It's great for just about anything you want to smash: garlic, whole cloves, chiles, guacamole. It's also the name of a dish served in a molcajete: grilled meat or shrimp with nopales, onion, cheese and salsa, fired up in a hot oven and served with hot tortillas.

The molcajete is going to be dusty right after picking one up at a market, and will need to be cured before use. To cure a molcajete, rinse it a few times then throw in a handful of uncooked rice. Grind the rice to a powder, dump out, and repeat until the rice looks white and clean.

Alternative methods to cure a molcajete:
  • Do the same as above, but with rock salt instead of rice.
  • Boil the molcajete in water (no soap) for 30 minutes.
  • Grind a whole head of garlic in the molcajete, spread the garlic paste on the sides and leave overnight. Rinse off the next day.
  • Do the above (garlic), but instead of leaving overnight, bake the molcajete with paste in the oven for 30 minutes. You can also add onion and a bit of cooking oil to the paste before baking.
The molcajete seasons over time just like a cast iron frying pan.


Leslie Limon said...

Congrats on your first molcajete! You are going to love it! I have a small one that I use for grinding spices.

Refried Dreamer said...

I ♥ my molcajete... although hubby tends to use it more. Congrats!

Veronica said...

Beautiful molcajete! I have one and took me a long time to cure, but did not know of these alternative methods.

Meredith Veto said...

Thanks! I wasn't sure if the rice method was really cleaning it, so I ended up doing the garlic paste overnight, and boiled it the next day too! Should be good to go.

Luciana Tiberio said...

Mere I just love readeing eyour blog. I've never been to Mexico -something I hope to remedy some day soon- but I feel like I'm traveling again when I read this. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you.

paulstaley said...

I want one!