Have you visited any home in Mexico before? If you have, you surely found a well-loved stone mortar and pestle set sitting on the kitchen counter. Right there in front of you, staring at you in all kitchens is one of the most beloved Latin kitchen tools ever available.
This ancient tool is a must-have for Mexican cooking. We communly call it a molcajete from the Nahuatl mulcazitl. This word technically only refers to the round, three-footed bowl. The other part of the tool, the pestle, is called a tejolote.
While reminiscing her childhood, my Mexican American friend Silvia Pinto shares that In Mexico, molcajete sets are so prized that they are often passed down from generation to generation within your family.
If you’re not lucky enough to have an heirloom molcajete in your family, you will need to buy one in order to make traditional molcajete salsa or enjoy the distinctive flavor of guacamole en molcajete.
3 Reasons to Buy a Molcajete
Without a doubt, when you make guacamole in molcajete it tastes differently. Not only the flavor stands out, your dish becomes more authentic and there is not doubt, you serve with style.
The most obvious reason to buy a molcajete is to give your Mexican cooking a more authentic flavor. This happens because
the volcanic stone surface of the molcajete absorbs flavors from the spices that have been ground into it over the years, and
reflects these flavors back into the food you are preparing.
I don’t get tired to explain this reason becuase it is impossible to replicate this unique flavor using any other tool.
Buying a molcajete will put you in touch with the roots of Mexican cooking simply because our “cousins,” the indigenous people,
were using this tool before “Mexico” even existed as a nation.
Without a doubt, this time-tested design is efficient and the best way to grind spices, salsa, or guacamole.
Molcajetes just look beautiful to many. Don’t be ashamed to consider this as a reason for buying one! You can even get one
that is shaped like a pig or a bull. They are perfect to use as a serving dish for guacamole or salsa, giving the unique
Latin flavor to your dish.
Buying a Molcajete – What to Look For
When shopping for a molcajete, be sure to only look for authentic ones made in Mexico. Many companies make molcajetes,
but only Mexican artisans use the pure volcanic stone that gives the best results. That is the secret to a great molcajete
Beware of molcajetes that are made of concrete textured to look like stone–this material is too soft and when you grind
spices you will also grind off little bits of the concrete into the food.
Choose several sizes. They are inexpensive ennough to buy at least 2 that hold different salsas. pairing them at the
table simply gives a very authentic flavor to anything you are serving.
Preparing Your Molcajete for the First Time
Once you get your molcajete home, you will need to prepare and season it before you try to make your first batch
of guacamole en molcajete.
- First, soak the molcajete in water for a couple of hours.
- Next, throw a handful of uncooked white rice into the bowl and grind it into powder. It will look gray because little pieces of stone have also been ground off of the mortar and pestle. Repeat this process until the rice stays white.
- Now that you know that all the surface grit has been ground away, you can toss some garlic, cumin, rock salt, and cilantro into the bowl. Mash these spices up and let them sit in the bowl overnight so the rock can absorb their flavors.
- Clean the molcajete in the morning, and it will be ready to use.
Guacamole en Molcajete Recipe
- 1 ripe avocado, sliced into small cubes
- 3 tablespoons of white diced onion
- 1 teaspoon of diced jalapeño chile (remove the seeds)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
- 3 tablespoons diced tomato (don’t use the juice or the seeds)
- Place 1 tablespoon onions, 1/2 teaspoon jalapeño, 1/2teaspoon cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon salt into the molcajete.
- Turn these into a paste by smushing them against the molcajete with the telojote or the back of a wooden spoon.
- Mix in the cubed avocado.
- Add the tomatoes and the rest of the onion, cilantro, and jalapeño. Mix, don’t mash, so that you will have whole pieces of these ingredients in the guacamole.
- Taste your guacamole and add extra salt or jalapeños if needed.